Race 5 - Docklands - 45 minutes
It was the most exciting end to the series ever! Hayley Rutherford and Oenone Wood went into the final race equal on points, with Rochelle Gilmore just 4 behind. Any one of them could win the series.....
The day was cooler than the previous 2 have been at Geelong - low 20's and slightly overcast. As has been normal all week, there was a reasonably strong headwind in the - today in the back straight of the 1km "hotdog" circuit at the foot of the Telstra Dome. There was certainly an excitement around the Docklands area as the women's race rolled out. It was fuelled by the announcement that the Lead Car was being driven by Australian TdF heroes from the FdJ team, Baden Cooke and Bradley McGee.
Early breakaways were quickly eliminated given the closeness of the overall classification. Although, the Victoria team's red jerseys were prominent in their attempts in the first half of the race.
With what eventuated as 12 laps to go, Frances Newstead went off the front and stayed away for 2 laps. She was brought back by the NSW team as the race finished neared and the stakes increased. Series leader, Hayley Rutherford tried her legs with 9 to go, but was quickly brought back by NSW working on the front of the bunch. With 7 to go, VIC's Kate Mactier attacked, but was quickly covered by NSW's Emma James.
The NSW team did not let anything go in the last laps of this race - they were controlling the latter stages for Gilmore. When Rutherford tried again with 4 to go, she was marked closely by Kate Nichols and brought back; "I tried to attack with a few laps left but the New South Wales team dominated. It was worth a try - the (VIC) team went down fighting and I got third today," was Rutherford's analysis after the race.
With 2 to go, Alison Wright attacked hard and made some space between her and the bunch. But, within 1/2 a lap, she had been reeled back in and the bunch was together as they took the bell with 1 lap remaining. The NSW team was on the front, controlling the race, followed by Wood and Rutherford. There was one rider missing, though. Kate Bates had sat up and was coasting around the last lap - she had secured the blue Sprint Ace jersey, done her job and rode around safely to the finish.
The pace of the final lap was high, on the final corner, Gilmore was led out on the outside by a team-mate. Oenone Wood came through on the inside and gained the advantage. She led up the finishing straight and was well clear by the finish line. Alison Wright sprinted hard to take second, whilst the effort and disappointment were clear on Hayley Rutherford's face as she took third. NSW's Jessica Ridder was fourth and Alexis Rhodes (SA) fifth.
After the race, Wood said that it had been useful not to wear the Leader's Jersey. "I didn't have anything to lose", she added. She was relatively confident today, with team-mate Wright "working well, I knew her position would be good, her lead out with 3 to go set up the finish." She said her tactic was to "watch Rochelle (Gilmore) and Hayley (Rutherford) - I knew I had to finish next after Rochelle if she beat me - she only needed 5 extra points to win herself."
The series started with NSW watching WA, next year, Wood thinks that ACT might be back with more riders to defend her title.
Next event on the calendar for most of the riders are the Australian National Championships - held at the end of next week. The series, according to Wood is good for racing form and regaining familiarity with the bunch. Her confidence is now good going into the Nationals and they will be a focus for the ACT team. Then, its over to Adelaide for the criteriums which support the Tour Down Under and back to Geelong for the first World Cup 2004 race.
The Jayco Bay Classic Series has been excellent - despite the at times chilly, breezy and wet weather. The organisation is superb and the whole thing is extremely spectator friendly. Each day, there have been cycling club stands selling BBQ sausages and drinks. Also available has been cycle clothing and accessories and various raffles for bikes. If you're in Victoria next year and this event takes place, take the time to watch a couple of days. The crowds have been building all week, Geelong was very well attended, with people taking advantage of the banks and hills to set up deckchairs and picnics with a view of most of the circuit. The Dockland crowd for the final day was larger than last year's for the final day outside the Crown Casino in Melbourne, according to commentator Phil Liggett.
RESULTS - Race 5
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1 Oenone Wood
2 Hayley Rutherford
3 Rochelle Gilmore
In detail :