April 29/03 10:09 am - Sue Palmer-Komar Interview
Posted by Editor on 04/29/03
This started out as an interview with Sue Palmer-Komar after she recorded her incredible second place at the Women's World Cup in Belgium last Wednesday (the Fleche Wallone). The text of that interview appears below, but equally important to this story is a casual remark Sue made at the end of the interview when we were just chatting.
"I'm going to put an ad in your Classifieds section - I have to sell my Commonwealth Games bike."
I was shocked - this is the bike that Sue rode to a silver medal in Manchester. Why would she ever sell it?
The answer is sobering: money.
"I need the money after all the racing this spring, there's a lot of bills to pay."
We then talked about the difference between Ontario and Quebec - where top athletes such as Clara Hughes receive tax breaks and there is a provincial program to match up athletes with corporate and private sponsors. Clara told me a couple of weeks ago (this interview will appear shortly) that the sponsorship of Bombardier and a wealthy individual are what allowed her to focus on her sport - which will quite possibly lead to medals in Hamilton and Athens.
"Quebec athletes are so lucky compared to the rest of the country" said Sue. "Right now I have to think about whether I can afford daycare for my daughter so that I can train."
So, after winning the women's division at the Paris-Ancaster, and finishing 11th overall (4 days after finishing second in a World Cup), Sue Palmer-Komar pulled out her Commonwealth Games bike at the finish line of the Paris-Ancaster and stuck a For Sale sign on it.
I'd like to hope that whomever purchases it will immediately give it back to Sue or, better yet, a company will come forward and say 'we believe what you are doing is important and we want to support you'.
Unfortunately, more likely someone will get a good deal on a one-of-a-kind piece of Canadian cycling history.
Sue Palmer-Komar Interview
On April 23rd, Sue Palmer-Komar finished second at the Fleche Wallone World Cup in Belgium, a scant four seconds behind Nicole Cooke. Other than Genevieve Jeanson's win at the same race in 2000 (and her World Cup win in Montreal), this is the best result ever for a Canadian woman in a World Cup. We spoke with Sue about her race after she got back from Belgium
CC - Congratulations! Tell us about the race, how it started.
SPK - Actually I was at the back a lot for the first part of the race (laughs). It was kind of nutty at the front, very, very aggressive. The European races are so much more aggressive than those over here, and I just wanted to stay back and let it sort itself out. I thought that there might be a break, but that the stronger teams would bring it back, so I stayed back to save energy for later in the race.
CC - When did you expect the important stuff would happen?
SPK - I remember from last year that the last four hills are the most important. They're really narrow, steep climbs and you have to be at the front. My plan was just to try and stay in good position.
CC - What about the team plan? (Palmer-Komar was riding as a member of the national squad with Lyne Bessette, Sandy Espeseth, Erin Carter and Julie Hutsebaut)
SPK - Lyne knew that we would help her if needed, but the rest of us weren't limited, we could ride our own race, and the others would help us too.
CC - When did the race really start?
SPK - On the third last climb Luperini's team (2002 Aurora RSM) really started to push the pace and split things up. Over the top there were lots of attacks, but it was windy and nothing could stick. It was a horrible descent but there was still a pretty strong group together at the bottom.
The second last climb was longer, but not as steep; it was a tactical climb. There were lots of attacks again, but everything was covered by the big teams, so there were still about 30 of us coming into the last climb to the finish. Luperini and her team went to the front; I was there, so was Lyne and Nicole (Cooke - ).
I don't really remember all the details of that climb. There was a strong attack, and I was just trying to ride very fast up the hill. I wasn't chasing anyone, just trying to be steady.
Before the top I could see Nicole, and I was actually starting to come back a bit, but she saw me out of the corner of her eye, I guess, and went harder. My legs locked up - they've never felt like that before - and I couldn't go faster.
CC - How does this compare to winning a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games?
SPK - This is probably the best result I've ever had. The Commonwealth Games was great, but this race was much tougher, and had all the Euros.
CC - How do feel now about your chances for Montreal (World Cup)?
SPK - Montreal is a longer hill, but this year I am the best prepared I have ever been - I rode November and December, so I have a better base this year. I think I have a great chance in Montreal.