Woman champ overcomes odds to enjoy sweet repeat victory
It was not easy. To contend with your partner going down on Day 3 and the fact he was out of the tour and the emotions around the uncertainty of whether he was going to be alright.
It was not good mental preparations in high-strung situations, where the demands of the course alone was enough.
And there was still the toughest 100km Challenge stage to ride to finish the Tour. But in the end, Rebecca Marley was equal to the task.
She rode her tired self from Asau to the finish at Amoa Resort in Faga on the final race stage, to claim her second Tour victory in the Ford Tour of Samoa. Her partner Christian was out of the tour.
The day before the finish was calamity day.
Being a Time Trial stage on day 3, Manase to Asau, meant the earlier starters like Rebecca were already at the finish at Vaimoana Resort. It is the shortest stage of the Tour at 37kms.
When she was told that Christian had been hit by a car, she froze with terror.
She thought he was dead. That confrontation would play itself out in her head even after seeing that he was not dead, but alive, with a mangled wing.
Rebecca spent the overnight rest period between stages to tend to Christian before riding the final 100km Challenge stage.
That in itself is a massive emotional challenge that impacts more than energy levels. It is emotionally draining. But she did it.
Crossing the finish line and finishing the final stage in 3hrs 33minutes, a very fast time. Her overall tour time of 11hrs 46minutes placed her eighth overall.
Rebecca paid tribute to her fellow riders.
“Congratulations to each and every one of the riders for being a part of the amazing Tour of Samoa 2016. Riders, supporters, family, sponsors and the amazing work from Samoa Events to make it all happen,” she said.
“I love the Tour of Samoa for the friends I have made both this year and last. We have kept in touch with most of the riders from last year and it was awesome to have Tim (Robertson), Brent (Thomas) and Wally (Collins) back.”
Rebecca went on to heap praise on the men’s winner, Tim Robertson.
“Tim – congratulations! You raced hard and raced fair. You are my hero and I look forward to next year.”
She also paid tribute to her fallen partner, Christian Wengler who was not able to defend his title for the third time.
“My star for the tour would be 1/3 Tim, 1/3 Dave Gorrie who is a real underdog and incredibly humble! The final third goes to the handsome and brave Wolfgang (Christian Wengler). He has taught me how to race. Therefore any success I have is truly ours both.”
Rebecca is already looking ahead to defending her title in 2017.
“I promise to bring more leg strength.”
The five women riders all finished the Tour, including the amazing Mary Lambie.
Women’s field in order of finish: Rebecca Marley (Christchurch), Anna Dungey (Christchurch), Debs Paranihi (Wellington), Mary Lambie (Auckland) and Sarah Begbie (Wellington).