Jayco Bay Cycling Classic
Wednesday 5th January - Sunday 9th January
(incorporating Australian Championships (Friday) & Victorian State Championships (Sunday))
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Day 4 - Geelong
The racing at the Botanical Gardens is always hard – there is a long ‘drag’ of a hill out of the initial corners and then there is a steeper hill which climbs almost all the way to the finish line. To some, it might seem like there is no respite at all - the downhill is over so quickly.
Oenone Wood started the day in yellow, her team-mate, Skye-Lee Armstrong started in green. It did not take long for riders to start drifting off the back of the race. The first intermediate sprint was won by Oenone Wood. The pace then accelerated and with 18 minutes gone, the bunch was split into 2. The yellow jersey was in the front group and the green jersey in the second group. A few minutes later, Armstrong, who doesn’t enjoy the hills, called it a day.
The front group consisted : Jenny Macpherson, Emma Rickard, Oenone Wood, Belinda Goss and Amanda Spratt. There were about 9 or 10 in the chasing group. At the second intermediate sprint, Jenny Macpherson took the second sprint ahead of Wood.
With 5 to go, the leaders were still away and the time gap was pretty consistent at about 20 seconds ahead. There weren’t any significant moves in the leading group until two laps to go, when Amanda Spratt tried her luck, but to no avail. As the five approached the line, they were still together, Emma Rickard stated the sprint by leading out, Belinda Goss jumped – Oenone Wood went around the outside and looked to have the win sewn up, but a surge by Jenny Macpherson was perfectly timed as she took it victory just on the line. Rochelle Gilmore sprinted for 6th place at the front of the chasing bunch, ahead of Kate Nichols.
Jenny Macpherson, speaking afterwards, said that the VIS team had “expected a break to go on this course”. She had seen riders go and when the break slowed, she saw her opportunity to join it. The fact that there were 2 VIS riders in the break had been beneficial too, in taking the pressure off Macpherson, allowing her to save herself for the sprint. Also a help, psychologically, was the win over Oenone Wood in the intermediate sprint, on a day when Macpherson felt strong and was able to give a ‘big kick’ in the finishing straight.
Speaking to Jenny Macpherson afterwards, she told WomensCycling.net that “I’ve been dreaming for the last four years of stepping up to riding against the likes of Rochelle Gilmore and Oenone Wood.” Of her victory, she said that she felt “very emotional”. Macpherson is now training full time and puts some of her improvement down to that luxury, as well as experience of exposure to physiotherapy, massage and sports science backup which comes with a VIS scholarship.
Oenone Wood, happy to have a short chat with WomensCycling.net just before the team departed for their hotel. She seemed relaxed and thought that tomorrow “looks pretty good – its looks like we’ve got the overall and sprint classifications wrapped up, so it takes the pressure off, we can just go and win the round”. Of the ‘hotdog’ circuit at Melbourne Docklands, she predicted that it will be “pretty fast and technical. Everyone will be ‘gee-ed up’ for the last day”.
The yellow and green jersey competitions are led by Oenone Wood. With 10 points added to her total tonight, she puts herself in an unassailable situation with regards to overall victory. Her lead is not so clear cut in the green jersey competition, but she and Skye-Lee Armstrong will be working hard to ensure that it is presented to a Mercure on Swanston team member on Sunday, rather than VIS's Macpherson's or an NSWIS rider, such as Nichols or Gilmore.
1 Jenny MacPherson (Jayco VIS)
2 Oenone Wood (Mercure Grand Hotel on Swanston)
3 Belinda Goss (TIS-Cyclingnews)
4 Emma Rickards (Jayco VIS)
5 Amanda Spratt (NSWIS)
6 Rochelle Gilmore (NSWIS)
Full gallery now here