Vicky Whitelaw happy with Worlds debut performance
Canberra's Vicki Whitelaw has finished 16th in the time trial on debut at the
UCI Road Cycling World Championships in Varese, Italy.
Whitelaw, 31, posted a time of 35min27.58sec for the 25.15km course which was
1min36.23sec off the pace of newly crowned World Champion, Amber Neben of the
USA. Neben was one of only two riders to crack the
34 minute mark crossing the line in 33min51.25sec to claim gold ahead of Austrian
Christiane Soeder who was 7.56sec slower. The bronze medal was claimed by Germany's
Judith Arndt who completed the distance in 34min13.12sec.
"I gave 100 percent, the best I could do for where I'm at so I'm really
happy," said Whitelaw after the race. "I couldn't have done any better
and it gives me a lot of incentive to be up here with the best girls in the
world and see where I can improve and where I can go from here."
Whitelaw, who is an exercise scientist and soft tissue therapist, won the National
Road Series in 2006 and 2007 and claimed the Oceania Time Trial title last year
as well. She was selected for the Australian team for the 2007 World Championships
but had to pull out due to illness. This year racing with the Australian team
in Europe she collected a win in the time trial stage of the women's Tour of
Italy, the Giro d'Italia Femminile.
"This is my first 'world champs' and my first year riding overseas and
consistently performing well and to finish off like this and culminate in the
World Championships and finish in the top half (of the field) I'm really happy,"
Vicky Whitelaw in action during the Hills Classic in August.
Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen
The Varese course is literally down the road from the Cycling Australia-AIS
High Performance Program's European base and Whitelaw says knowing the course
certainly helped her today.
"For me I broke the course down into four sections so in the hill section
I was trying to get under 12 mins and the ones on the podium were really fastest
over that section," she explained. "The descent which is winding and
quite techical but not too bad and not wet so we could really dig into that
"Then the back section with the cobbles and then the home run where yesterday
we saw through the tunnels a couple of the boys crashed so I was playing it
a bit carefully there and then the final little rise over," she said. "I
had it in my head broken down to make it more manageable."
The event was raced in perfect conditions with temperatures around 18 degrees
celsius and no wind.
The reigning Oceania and Australian Time Trial Champion, Bridie O'Donnell, 34,
clocked a time of 36min08.08sec to finish 23rd at 2min16.73sec off the winning
time. O'Donnell, a sports physician who was a former rower and ironwoman, is
a product of the Australian Sports Commission's 'Women with Big Engines' project
that was created in September, 2006, to bolster Australia's chances for success
in road time trial competition and says the conditions today made the course
a lot quicker than the riders had expected.
"I don't really remember very much but it was quite painful and quicker
than in training so perfect conditions really," said O'Donnell. "It
was lucky the roads were dry so it meant you could really have a go on the descents."
Australia's third rider in the event was 23 year old South Australian Alexis
Rhodes who placed 24th in 36min12.46sec and agrees prior knowledge of the course
was an advantage.
"It was really, really quick and a lot quicker than in training and it
was nice knowing the descent before coming into racing because you could pick
your lines and have a real dig," said Rhodes.
Tomorrow three time World Champion, Michael Rogers, and reigning Australian
Time Trial Champion, Adam Hansen, will line up for Australia in the men's elite
time trial over 43.70 kilometres.
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