7 December 2009: Tour of Bright clean sweep
Vicki Whitelaw has finished 2009 in impressive style winning all three stages, the Mountain Classification and the General Classification of the Tour of
Bright over the weekend.
The Tour started with a 79 kilometre stage that climbed up Tawonga Gap before finishing just outside of Bright. Whitelaw pushed the pace on the climb and a
group of three moved off the front, with Whitelaw winning the sprint for the first stage and taking the yellow jersey by one second from Bronwyn Ryan.
The second stage followed just a few hours after the completion of the morning stage. It consisted of a 15.7 kilometre time trial over rolling terrain.
Whitelaw won this stage in last year's edition of the Tour of Bright and was looking for a repeat performance. "It's a tough little course. The small
starting gaps between riders and the huge number of competitors on the road [as all grades are run together] make this tt quite different from the norm.
Bronwyn [Ryan] and I had a really good tussle for the stage."
Whitelaw won the stage by 26 seconds, cementing her lead in the General Classification.
Sunday's third and final stage was the queen stage of the tour. Whilst only 55 kilometres long, the final 30 kilometres climb up to the
Mount Hotham ski resort making it a real test of climbing ability.
The riders were aggressive right from the start of the climb with numerous attacks firing off the front of the group. The decisive attack came when
Stephanie McGrath pushed the pace on one of the steep sections of the climb. Whitelaw was the only one able to respond and the two built a comfortable lead.
After the race Whitelaw said that she was "happy to let Stephanie set the pace. I had a good lead on GC and could afford to relax a bit. Towards the end
Lisa [Jacobs] started to gain on us so I upped the pace. Unfortunately Stephanie was beginning to tire and dropped off." Whitelaw finished 37
seconds ahead of Jacobs and 50 ahead of McGrath.
Her three stage wins meant that Whitelaw won the General Classification by 2.03 over Ryan with Jacobs a further 44 seconds in arrears. Along the way Whitelaw
had collected enough points to also claim the mountains jersey.
Whitelaw is hoping her results bode well for Nationals held in Ballarat next January. "It's been a good weekend, I always love coming to Bright. It's a beautiful place, not
that you get much time to enjoy the scenery, and the race organisation is first class. More importantly it shows my training is
on track for Nationals next month. I'm not at the top of my form yet - it's too far out - so to have a good ride here is encouraging. I had good form at
Nationals this year but also had some really bad luck. [She suffered a mechanical in the time trial that deprived her of any chance of a podium finish.] I
would really like a podium result next year... actually two would be good."
18 October 2009: Whitelaw wins Honda Hybrid Woman's Tour
HP Pinarello has dominated the inaugural Honda Hybrid Women's Tour by winning all three stages, the General Classification and the Young Rider's Classification.
The tour started with a 55 kilometre stage out of Anglesea which was won in a sprint by HP Pinarello captain Rochelle Gilmore. Her team mates Lauren Kitchen and Vicki Whitelaw
controlled the race, never allowing the multiple breaks to get more than a 15 second advantage over the field. Gilmore was first into the roundabout situated at 200 metres to
go and held the lead to the end, taking both the stage win and the red leader's jersey.
Stage 2 consisted of a 10.3 kilometre individual time trial through Eastern Park and along the waterfront in Geelong. The team's plan was for time trial specialist Vicki
Whitelaw to win the stage and take the lead in the General Classification. The first HP Pinarello rider to start was Kitchen who had to endure a torrential downpour that
began just as she left the start house. Despite this she flew around the course in a time of 16:51, setting a new best time and taking the lead in the Young Rider's
With the benefit of Kitchen's feedback about which corners were treacherous in the wet conditions, Whitelaw started smoothly and increased her speed through the race. "On the
first corner [a tight switchback] my rear wheel slipped a bit making me nervous. I was cautious for the rest of the race, not wanting to lose time with a crash." Whitelaw's
caution paid off with her taking the stage by two seconds over Amber Halliday (MB Cycles) and the overall lead by four seconds.
The third and final stage consisted of a criterium held on a tight course in central Melbourne. The HP Pinarello team's plan was to bring the stage to a bunch sprint for
Gilmore whilst protecting the classification leads of both Kitchen and Whitelaw. Whitelaw had some concerns going into the race: "We are only a small team and things were pretty
tight at the top of the GC. I knew I had to make sure that Amber didn't get any of the bonus seconds on offer in the sprints. There was the potential for things to go wrong for
us but we believed we had the strength to pull it off."
In the end the ambitious plan worked to perfection with Whitelaw extending her lead in the GC by claiming two bonus seconds in the intermediate sprints, Kitchen defending her
lead in the Young Rider's Classification and both girls working together to lead out Gilmore for another stage win. "It has been a very successful week for us" Whitelaw said
after the race. "We took a clean sweep of the stages and two of the three jerseys on offer. I'm using this race to kick start my training after a couple of weeks off and I'm
hoping it is indicative of the year to come."
19 September 2009: Cycling Australia announces Worlds team
Cycling Australia has announced the team that will represent Australia at the World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland. Vicki Whitelaw has been selected for both the Time
Trial and the Road Race.
After a year of ups and downs Whitelaw was happy to make the team: "Given my year of upheavals, it’s nice to have finally got here. It certainly has been a really tough road."
Whitelaw's path to the championships has been bumpy right to the end. A good result (3rd) in the Memorial Davide Fardelli was promptly followed by a crash in the Rund um die
Nürnberger Altstadt round of the World Cup. Initially it was feared that Whitelaw had broken her wrist. "It was really painful. I couldn't open doors or, more
importantly, hold the handle bars properly." Further examination showed that Whitelaw was fortunate and had only suffered a sprain. She is hoping that the disruption to
her training won't affect her form in the race.
The women's World Championship time trial will be on Wednesday 23 September with the road race on Saturday 26 September.
The full Australian team is:
- Ruth Corset (Road Race)
- Tiffany Cromwell (Road Race)
- Rochelle Gilmore (Road Race)
- Emma Mackie (Road Race)
- Bridie O'Donnell (Time Trial)
- Alexis Rhodes (Road Race & Time Trial)
- Vicki Whitelaw (Road Race & Time Trial).
7 September 2009: Successful week in lead up to Worlds
In the space of a week Vicki Whitelaw (Vision1 Racing) has won a road race in Belgium and finished third in a time trial in Italy.
Last Sunday Whitelaw took part in the Zottegem-Erwetegem road race held in Belgium. Whilst it attracted riders from many of the professional women's teams it was
not a UCI registered race so the alliances were hard to spot. "It's a provincial championship which is highly prized among the Belgian girls. Because it
is raced along club rather than team lines it got a bit confusing with riders from the same professional team covering each other's moves and girls from
different teams working together," Whitelaw reported after the race. "I was without any team mates so decided I had to chase pretty much everything and be
as aggressive as possible."
Whitelaw's approach paid off - she and another rider formed a break off the front which lasted for a number of laps until Whitelaw attacked again. "The
other girl wouldn't come through. There was no way I was going to pull her to the finish so I attacked on a slight rise." A gap quickly formed with the
dropped rider drifting back to the bunch whilst Whitelaw increased her lead.
The time gap to the peloton stayed constant until it was clear that Whitelaw would stay away for the win. At that point riders in the peloton started to
position themselves for the sprint for second and the gap ballooned out to just over three minutes by the finish.
Whitelaw said that the win was welcome after a rough couple of months. "I've been scrambling to get to races since Vision1 cancelled its race calendar a
few months ago. I wasn't planning to do this one but I was on my way home from Trophee d'Or and had some time to kill. I thought this would be a good
training ride – it's great to take the win."
A week later Whitelaw took part in the Memorial Davide Fardelli individual time trial. Having finished second last year Whitelaw was feeling some pressure to
perform. "The course suits me – it's quite technical and a lot of time can be made or lost in the corners. I was really hoping to do well again."
Whitelaw's preparation was interrupted by a training crash in the week leading up to the race. "I didn't do any serious damage - I took some skin off and
cut my elbow. Still, it took energy to recover and I was stiff and sore for a few days."
Whitelaw again finished on the podium, taking third behind two time World Time Trial and defending Fardelli champion Karen Thürig (Bigla Cycling Team) and current World
Time Trial Champion Amber Neben (Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung). After the race Whitelaw said that she was "happy with the result. I'm closer to Karen than I was last
year so I guess that shows I'm continuing to improve."
Whitelaw now waits for Cycling Australia to announce the team selected to represent Australia at the World Championships in September. When asked what she
thought of her chances, Whitelaw said that she was pretty confident of gaining selection for the road race but that she was "having a real tussle with
Alexis [Rhodes] for the last spot in the time trial – I guess today's result won't hurt my chances any."
The final team selection is expected to be announced in the next week.
2 August 2009: Vicki 2nd in Bochum Criterium
Vicki Whitelaw has claimed second place in the Bochum Criterium after following the attack of Elizabeth Armitstead (Lotto-Belisol
Ladies Team) on lap 6 of the 34 lap criterium. The pair worked well together, increasing their lead to a maximum of 1 minute 25 seconds.
Whitelaw was aware of the risk Armitstead posed. "I knew I had to jump on Elisabeth's attack. If you let someone like her go you could well not see them again before the end
of the race. Once the break was established I spent the whole time thinking about how I could beat her. I tried a couple of attacks in the last few laps but she was straight
on my wheel every time. I'd noticed that each lap I was gapping her on the corner before the finish line so on the last lap I hit it really hard and started my sprint."
Whitelaw did open a gap but hit a bump which caused her rear wheel to skip, slowing her charge to the line. "Yeah, I did hit something. I can't say if it made any difference -
I think Elisabeth is a better sprinter than me anyway. I would have liked to have won but it was not to be. Second is not too bad I guess."
The bunch followed with Rochelle Gilmore (Lotto-Belisol Ladies Team) winning the sprint for third. Chole Hosking (Moving Ladies) and Kirsty Broun (Australian National Team)
rounded out the top five. With four Australians in the top five, today's Sparkassen Giro should be an interesting race.
24 July 2009: Whitelaw 4th in Stage 3 of Thüringen-Rundfahrt
In trying conditions Vicki Whitelaw finished 4th on Stage 3 of the International Thüringen-Rundfahrt yesterday and moved up to 8th overall.
A 125km loop near the town of Schleiz, Germany, the third stage was run in wet, muddy conditions. The rolling climbs and rough descents splintered the peloton into a number
small groups over the course of the race. A group of 15 riders broke away on one of the climbs with Whitelaw included in the selection.
Two riders were able to escape the group and ride solo to the finish. Whitelaw found herself sprinting for third place. There was a final corner 300m from the finish which the
rain made treacherous. After the finish Whitelaw said she "descended well and kept my focus on the right hand corner, careful to not
over analyse it but to take it wide and smoothly. I survived it and then was faced with an uphill sprint, trying to claw my way back to Eva. I was gaining on her, but ran out
of road and she crossed in third with me finishing 4th."
Today's stage consists of a 23 kilometre individual time trial. Whitelaw hopes to place high in the results to both move up the overall standings and strengthen her case for selection
in the Australian team for the world time trial championships later this year.
Stage 3, International Thüringen Rundfahrt
||Linda Villumsen Serup
25 May 2009: Whitelaw wins Sprint Classification in Tour de l'Aude
Vicki Whitelaw (Vision1 Racing) has won the Maillot Rouge of the Sprint Classification at the 2009 Tour de l'Aude.
Whitelaw won all three intermediate sprints on the first stage whilst on a 90 kilometre solo break that was caught within 4 kilometres of the line. This put her in the lead of
the classification, a position she never relinquished.
It was two days before Whitelaw actually wore the Maillot Rouge as she also held the Maillot Bleu of the Mountains Classification. The rules state that when a rider holds more
than one jersey the second is worn by the next available rider in the classification. The Maillot Rouge did not go far as Vision1 Racing's team leader, Nicole Cooke, held the
jersey on Stage 2 and team mate Christel Ferrier-Bruneau carried it on Stage 3.
Despite the significant lead Whitelaw achieved on Stage 1, she faced stiff competition from the 2008 winner of the Sprint Classification, Monica Holler of the Bigla Racing
team. Holler made every effort to defend her title, contesting the intermediate sprints and coming within 9 points of Whitelaw at the end of Stage 3. This was as close as she
would come with Whitelaw making the most of her climbing ability to take points on any sprint that came after a major climb.
The conclusion of the 8th and penultimate stage saw Whitelaw with an insurmountable 15 point lead, allowing her to enjoy the last day in the jersey without pressure. The final
Sprint Classification standings were:
Whitelaw was satisfied with her win: “I took the lead of both the Mountain and Sprint jerseys on the first stage. I was disappointed not to have won that stage, it was a close
thing, but that's the way it is when you have strong teams working to bring everything together. I knew I couldn't hold the climber's jersey but thought I had a good chance to
hang on to the sprint classification. I'm not really a sprinter per se, more of an all rounder, and I was worried by Monica. She beat me in every intermediate sprint on Stage
3 but I was able to fight back the next stage and increase my lead from then on. It has been great to be on the podium each day – hopefully the season just builds for here.”
Whitelaw will spend a week in Limoux training and then head to Spain for two races. Whitelaw again: “I've never raced in Spain before. I'm looking forward to the experience
and hope that Vision1 can continue the good results we achieved here.”
17 May 2009: Whitelaw leads QOM & Sprint Classifications in Tour de l'Aude
Vicki Whitelaw (Vision1 Racing) went on a 90km solo break in Stage 1 of the Tour de l'Aude, taking the lead in both the QOM and Sprint Classifications.
Stage 1 of the Tour de l’Aude was a 116 kilometre loop starting and finishing in Rieux Minervois. Run over rolling roads, the major obstacle was a Category 2 climb which
crested 55 kilometres into the race.
Whitelaw attacked after 23 kilometres and proceeded to stay away for the next 90 kilometres. At the start of the climb (kilometre 53)
Whitelaw had an advantage of 1 minute 45 seconds. The peloton chased hard on the ascent reducing Whitelaw’s lead, only to have her pull away again on the descent. At
Villegailhenc (kilometre 82) Vicki reached a maximum lead of 3 minutes 50 seconds.
Team Columbia-Highroad began to chase in an effort to bring the stage down to a bunch finish for their sprinter Ina Teutenberg. Teutenberg is quoted on
cyclingnews.com as saying “it was a real team effort today, in the last 40
kilometres all the riders had to work very hard to pull back a break… We made a decision before the stage, and the result was that half the squad essentially did a team time
trial today chasing down the breakaway.”
Whitelaw resisted but was slowly reeled in and caught 4 kilometres from the line. Teutenberg went on to win the sprint ahead of Martine Bras (Selle Italia-Guezzi) and Marianne
Vos (DSB Bank). Whitelaw finished 37th with the same time.
Whilst she missed the stage win Whitelaw didn’t walk away empty handed. She lead over all three intermediate sprints and the Queen of the Mountain (QOM) sprint on the first
categorised climb of the tour. Whitelaw goes into Stage 2 with the lead in both the Sprint and QOM jersey competitions.
16 May 2009: Tour de l'Aude on again
Yesterday marked the start of the 2009 Tour de l'Aude Féminin. The race began with a flat 3.9 kilometre time trial which was won by Linda Villumsen (Columbia – Highroad) with
an average speed of 48 kilometres an hour.
The tour runs for 10 days, finishing in Limoux on Sunday the 24th of May after covering a total of 858 kilometres.
Daily updates will appear on Vicki's blog.
28 March 2009: Vision 1 has successful camp
The Vision 1 Racing Team has just completed a two week training camp in Tuscany, Italy preparing for the first round of the World Cup series.
This camp was the first opportunity for all of the riders and support staff to come together in one place, get to know each other and prepare for the year ahead.
The riders took delivery of their new Focus Cayo road bikes equipped with SRAM Red group sets. Rider Vicki Whitelaw was impressed with the new equipment. “I really like the
Cayo. On only the second ride I was throwing it into corners like I'd been riding it for ages. It's solid and totally predictable.”
The SRAM group set took a little longer to get use to. “We hit the first serious climb and I just could not get into the small chain ring. Turns out it was operator
error – I've only ever used Shimano before so it's taken me a couple of rides to get my head around the SRAM lever set-up. After dragging up the hill in the big chain ring I
asked Nicole [Cooke] to show me how it works. A bit of practice and it's now like the bike – like I've been using it for ages.”
The middle weekend of the camp included three one day races in the Costa Etrusca region. There was no pressure to perform, rather the team used the opportunity to iron out
any bugs before the start of the World Cup series. Whitelaw especially appreciated the opportunity to settle into the team. “I've never worked with any of these guys before.
Each team does things a little bit differently but you don't realise what those differences are until you actually race. I think we have set a really good basis for the rest
of they year.”
Despite being the first races they entered as a team, Vision 1 Racing was able to secure three top ten finishes. Whitelaw placed 8th in the 'GP Costa Etrusca - Giro dei
Comuni Rosignano-Livorno' while Cooke placed 5th and 9th in the 'GP Costa Etrusca - Gran Premio Comuni di Riparbella – Montescudaio' and the 'Trofeo Costa Etrusca - Memorial
Tiziano Saba - GP Comuni di Santa Luce - Castellina M.Ma' respectively. These results bode well for the team given that none of the riders are in top form this early in the
With the camp concluded, the team has now relocated to northern Italy in preparation for the first World Cup race of 2009, the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, to be raced on Sunday.
11 March 2009: Whitelaw arrives in Europe
After spending her off season enjoying the Australian summer, Whitelaw arrived in Belgium yesterday in preparation for the start of the World Cup season.
Racing in Europe last season with the AIS/Australian National Team, this year sees Whitelaw join the professional ranks, riding for Vision1 Racing.
Whitelaw said she was “looking forward to the opportunity to work for and with Nicole [Cooke]” and believed that Vision1 “will be the perfect environment for
me to progress my cycling career.”
One major hurdle that Antipodean riders have to overcome is the sheer distance between home and Europe. Whitelaw flew from Canberra to Paris via Sydney and
Singapore then completed the journey by train. Door to door the trip took over 32 hours. Whitelaw said that she was “feeling not too bad given I didn't
sleep a wink but it's really going to hit this afternoon.”
Not only does the distance make for long travel times but it also means that Whitelaw is a long way from family and friends. “It's hard. If things go wrong
you can't just run home for support – you have to tough it out. I think it's one of the reasons that Aussie riders do so well in Europe. We have to be so
determined and leave so much behind just to get over here.” Whitelaw is not alone in feeling the separation - last year fellow Australian Oenone Wood
retired. At the time Wood stated that one of her reasons for what was widely considered an early departure from racing was her desire to spend more time
Arriving in Belgium came as a shock to Whitelaw after the Australian summer. “It's freezing! Four degrees and a grey, gloomy sort of a day, though I'm
assured that it was much warmer yesterday. All of 10 degrees.”
Fortunately for Whitelaw she will soon get relief from the northern spring with a Vision1 team training camp starting in Italy on Thursday. “I've got a
couple of days to get my new kit and bikes sorted and then we head to Tuscany. I'm looking forward to meeting the rest of the team there and doing some
racing to get the kinks out before we start the World Cup series. It should be an exciting year!”
Whitelaw has three UCI 1.2 ranked races in the Costa Etrusca region before the team's first major goal for the year, the Trofeo Alfredo Binda on March 29th.
11 January 2009: Australian Nationals over for another year
The Australian Open Road Cycling Championships has been held in Ballarat Victoria over the last four days. Vicki Whitelaw achieved two top five results but
wonders what could have been.
The Championships opened for the Elite Women with the 28km time trial starting and finishing in Buninyong, Victoria. Whitelaw started as one of the
favourites following her top 20 result in the 2008 World Championships. At the first (unofficial) time check at the top of the major climb Whitelaw was 8
seconds off the lead and sitting equal with the eventual winner Carla Ryan. Three kilometres later disaster struck.
"I was pushing down a slight descent when suddenly there was no resistance from the pedals. At first I thought I had dropped my chain but it turned out that
the wheel had broken - the pawls in the free hub wouldn't engage." A wheel change was required which cost Whitelaw significant time. "You never know how
much time a mechanical costs you, I mean you don't have a stopwatch running to measure it or anything, but it set me back by at least a minute. Probably
Whitelaw got underway again only to find that another couple of kilometres down the road her seat clamp started to slip. "It felt like the whole seat was
sinking but really it was the nose dropping. I had to keep trying to push myself back up the saddle. It was like I was playing a character in a farce."
Whitelaw eventually finished 5th, one minute nineteen seconds down. When asked whether she would have won the event without the mechanicals she refused to
speculate. "Look, you can't say anything like that with certainty! I think I would have been able to make the podium. The [unofficial] time splits I have
show that I was going really well on all the sections except for the one where I had the wheel change. But at the end of the day the only thing that matters
is the time it takes you to get from the start to the finish and that put me in fifth place."
The road race was three days later and again Whitelaw was named as one of the favourites. After two and a half hours of racing there was a group of five
riders off the front which included Whitelaw, Nikki Butterfield, Ruth Corset, Sharon Laws and Carla Ryan. On the last lap Ryan attacked and rode solo to the
finish. "When Carla attacked I couldn't go with her. There were two riders between us and there was no way I could get around them and get her wheel"
Whitelaw said. "Carla was really strong and deserves the win."
The remaining four sprinted for second with Whitelaw finishing fourth. "I was pushed towards the witches hats at the side of the road and had to hit the
brakes. That was the end of the race for me. It is frustrating to just miss the podium again but I have a full year of racing ahead of me and this week has
shown that I have some good form. I hope to carry it forward and get some good results with my new team Vision1."