By Marianne Werz O'Brien
UCI women’s peloton will contest round two of the World Cup series on Saturday,
March 20, 2004 in the 118km Primavera Rosa which travels from the coastal town
of Varazze to San Remo in Italy.
For the second straight year an Australian will
contest the Primavera Rosa wearing the World Cup Series leader’s jersey. The
first round of the women’s World Cup took place February 29th in Geelong,
Australia and the amazing Aussie Oenone Wood was victorious.
The Geelong WC race was essentially flat, as is the first half of the
Primavera Rosa, but then come the three climbs of Capo Berta, the Cipressa and
most famously - the Poggio. (For more on the Poggio please see “The
Poggio – Springboard to Victory”) This should not put Wood in any difficulty
however, as during the Geelong Tour road race she was powering up Mount Wallace
while other riders were forced to walk their bikes.
The Primavera Rosa follows the last 118 kilometers of the men’s Milan-San
Remo course. The pace of the race is usually quite fast and in recent years the
climbs have indeed been a deciding factor in the outcome. Last year’s winner,
Zoulfia Zabirova, made her move on the Cipressa and managed to escape from the
peloton, riding solo into San Remo.
As always, la Primavera Rosa has attracted a field of exceptional quality.
This year 162 riders will participate (27 teams of 6 riders each). Eleven
national squads will attend, representing Finland, Australia, Great Britain, New
Zealand, Holland, Polonia, Russia, Spain, Switzerland Germany and Italy. The
remaining eleven teams include women who are Dutch, French, Belgian, Japanese
and American as well.
The pre-race favorite, reigning Australian National Road Race and Time Trial
Champion Oenone Wood, has 13 wins already this season including the Geelong World
Cup, Geelong Tour, and just this week the Giro Frazoni / Trofeo Citta de
Rosignano. This tiny tornado has blown away competition all year, but now that
the European ladies have more races in their legs, her wins are less decisive. In Citta de Rosignano, Wood held off Regina Schleicher by a mere three seconds for her victory, with Edita Pucinskaite, reigning two time World Champion
Susanne Ljungskog, Fabiana Luperini and Alison Wright all coming in at the same
Unfortunately at la Primavera Rosa we will not get to see the first showdown
between Welsh wonder Nicole Cooke and Oenone Wood. Cooke, who won the overall
women’s World Cup series last year, has had a late start to her training and
will begin her race season next week at the Vuelta De Castilla y Leon. She has
no plan to defend her overall series title however saying, "Because of the late
start to my winter training I'll hit form a little later this year, so with five
of the races in the first half of the season the World Cup is not an objective.
That's not a problem though because I'll be aiming to reach my peak in August
for the Olympics, so I'll take it steady to start, with no pressure."
This weekend she'll attend la Primavera Rosa with her team but won't be
racing. She will however be riding the course as training and take the
opportunity to watch the men's Milan-San Remo race.
Zoulfia Zabirova, last year’s winner here at la Primavera Rosa, is another
rider without plans to defend her previous victory. She is racing alongside
Fabiana Luperini but has no great personal ambitions this year due to some
setbacks in her training. As always Susanne Ljungskog and Mirjam Melchers must
be considered serious contenders. Both women have previously won this race,
Melchers in 2002, Ljungskog in 2001.
Also watch for Regina Schleicher who so nearly pipped the Citta de Rosignano
win from Wood last week. Schleicher has had two world cup victories in her
career and placed second here last year. Another strong rider in a field full of
fabulous women is Petra Rossner. The 2002 overall WC series winner has to be
considered one of the favorites here. She has shown that she is on form already
this season by placed 2nd in the Geelong WC. Rossner has won seven World Cup
races in her career but never la Primavera Rosa.
Please visit the official race site
2003 Zoulfia Zabirova (Rus)
2002 Mirjam Melchers (Ned)
2001 Susanne Ljungskog (Swe)
2000 Diana Ziliute (Ltu)
1999 Sara Felloni (Ita)
Geelong World Cup #1 Result
1. Oenone WOOD (AUS – AIS) 3hr10min49sec
2. Petra ROSSNER (GER – Team Nurnberger) st
3. Miho OKI (JPN) st
4. Alison WRIGHT (AUS - Nobili Rubinetterie-Guerciotto) st
5. Rochelle GILMORE (AUS – Team SATS) @ 0:00:01
6. Hayley RUTHERFORD (AUS – SC Michela Fanini Record Box) st
7. Rachel HEAL (GBR – Farm Frites) st
8. Priska DOPPMANN (SUI) st
9. Sara CARRIGAN (AUS –QAS) st
10. Tanja HENNES (GER Next 125) @ 0:00:02
See also the
Women’s World Cup Round One, the
Geelong WC Preview, and the
2004 Women’s World Cup Preview.