Geelong Women's Tour
Stage 2 Results
It has been an exciting Tour for the 'placegetters' (as they are called here in Australia) this week - first the prologue / leader changing as it did and then in this, the criterium, Rochelle Gilmore pulling her foot in the sprint and yet still managing to come third...
It was cool and breezy for the Geelong criterium which formed Stage 2 of the Geelong Women's Tour. The original 1km circuit was changed to a 2.2km circuit for the evening's racing. The decision was taken on safety grounds and seemed to be appreciated by the riders. In fact, Cathy Marsal (Nobi-Fani) commented to WomensCycling.net that it was a very responsible decision and one which would not necessarily been taken by race directors in Europe. Marsal, who arrived in Australia last week finished in the bunch today and like the other Europeans, concedes that the extra racing and warm weather training enjoyed by the Southern Hemisphere riders has set them up for this first portion of the season. Like many of the other riders here this week, Marsal and team-mates Alison Wright and Kim Shirley are looking for ranking points to help their route through to Athens. Marsal is impressed with the race and its organisation and has enjoyed the competition so far.
The riders lined up for the 35km race on the amended circuit, starting at 6pm exactly. They faced a less technical circuit than originally planned, but at the trade-off of a much longer climb back up to the start finish line each 2.2km lap.
As would be expected, the first lap was one of the slowest, covered in 3 minutes 34 seconds. The group was led over the line by Leonie Aisbett (NSWIS), Tina Mayola Pic (Jayco) and Naomi Williams (AIS). But there was no real action off the front of the race. In fact noone managed to get further than a few metres off the front all night.
A number of riders began to slide off the back of the bunch as the pace picked up. Lap pace rose to around 3 minutes 27 seconds up until the first sprint lap, which took place at half race distance, 8 to go. Although the sixth lap was particularly quick, led over the line by Oenone Wood and then race leader Kate Mactier in 3 minutes 20 seconds. A notable rider high up on GC who spent much of the evening towards the back of the bunch consistently, was Kathy Watt. She sat there, sometimes appearing to be struggling, but as the race closed into the final few laps, she had moved herself forward in the bunch.
Anyway, the first sprint lap was run out in 3minutes 24 seconds, with Kate Mactier (Jayco) taking the result from Bates and Barry (T-Mobile). The sprint awards were 3,2,1 points for the jersey, with time bonuses of 3,2,1 seconds also on offer.
Some further, consistent 3'25-ish laps led up to the second sprint lap which took place with 4 to go. Although, with 6 to go the SATS team were hovering at the back, bringing one of the team back into the main group after a mechanical. A confirmed mechanical was suffered by Miriam Melchers, riding for the World Team. She took a lap out at around the same time due to a broken spoke in her front wheel.
The second sprint, with 4 to go was taken by Hayley Rutherford (Nobi-Fani) from Sara Carrigan (QAS) and Petra Rosna (Nurnberger).
As the riders began thinking about the finish, the T-Mobile squad passed the start-finish area towards the front of the bunch with 3 to go and 2 to go - they were obviously driving things forward. Melchers tried to gain some daylight off the front - she was apparently concerned about the size of the bunch and the gallop which such a group would make. She was slightly off the front at the bell, but chased hard by members of the T-Mobile squad. By the time the race came around for the finish, Melchers had been swallowed up. A group about to be lapped pulled to the left as riders sprinted for the line. Oenone Wood was easily ahead with 25m to go, leading Kate Bates, whilst Rochelle Gilmore coasted over the line for third, having pulled her left foot out of the pedal with 35m - 40m to go. Riders in the top ten included Japan's World Team member, Miho Oki and New Zealand's Melissa Holt. Time bonuses for the stage finish are 10sec, 6secs and 4 seconds for third.
Speaking after the event, leader on GC - Kate Mactier (Jayco), was pleased to keep the jersey into the third day. With up to 50 riders who could win on the day, she said it had been important to watch all the moves and stay 'on the ball'. The sprint, she said, with such a large number of riders had the potential to be "a bit twitchy", but the course change had helped with the safety aspect. Mactier is pleased to be competing in what she called "such a fantastic field" and had commented earlier from the podium that she was grateful that the Geelong events gave the Australian riders the chance to showcase Australia to the visiting competitors.
The riders head away for Stage 3 Tuesday at 10:30hrs along the Barwon Coast and Thirteenth Beach Road.
General Classification After Stage 2
Jersey holders :
General Classification (blue) - Kate Mactier (Jayco)
Under 23 Competition (yellow) - Katherine Bates (NSWIS)
Sprints (red) - Hayley Rutherford (Nobi-Fani)