Jayco Bay Cycling Classic
Wednesday 5th January - Sunday 9th January
(incorporating Australian Championships (Friday) & Victorian State Championships (Sunday))
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Day 5 - Melbourne Docklands
With the overall victory already sealed, Oenone Wood looked relaxed before the start of the Jayco Bay Classic Series final round at Melbourne's Docklands. But, she was in no mood to sit back and merely finish the race to take her successful defence of the title she also won on 2004. From the start, her team, Mercure on Swanston were involved in attacks and of course there was the matter of Skye-Lee Armstrong's green sprinter's jersey to secure.
Jessie Maclean went early on and stayed away for a couple of laps. Wood was to be seen 'policing' any moves from the bunch to bring Maclean back. Things were a little nervous in the bunch, a puncture to the unluckiest rider of the week, Kerryn Charman saw Jessica Tanner hit the kerb as a result of the inevitable wobble by Charman and Tanner somersaulted onto the pavement in the middle of the road. Both riders were soon up and back in the race - restarting where they left it (in position terms) thanks to the 'lap out allowed' criterium rule in operation.
A couple of laps later, Helen Kelly fell as a result of a touch of wheels. She was not seriously hurt, but decided to get her wounds dressed by the medics, rather than carry on. Just after this incident, Caroline Jackson, ex-pat Briton, now living in Melbourne went off the front and gained quite a distance before being pulled back by a concerted effort by the bunch which was beginning to think about the second intermediate sprint.
Bianca Rogers, Skye-Lee Armstrong and Caroline Jackson attacked together, but were chased down by Kate Nichols. Emma James was next to try her luck, she gained 15 seconds and stayed away for 2 laps - just short of the second sprint, which was won by Skye-Lee Armstrong, giving her the green jersey to take home. Second was Claire Baxter, third Kate Nichols.
Then it was the turn of Oenone Wood - having watched her team-mates go off the front of the race throughout the first 2/3, she stretched the bunch into a long line down the finishing straight. Another crash, this time on the corner saw Peta Mullens skid across the road on her back. Like the others, she was soon back up and racing again.
Amanda Spratt, repeating a tactic she has tried several times this week, attacked just before the '5 laps to go' signal. Although put some distance between herself and the bunch, it was not enough and as has been the case on previous days, her effort was neutralised.
With 3 to go, Skye-Lee Armstrong attacked - perhaps going for overall victory, perhaps taking the pressure off team leader Wood. Whichever, her effort was brought back. On the bell, as the riders crossed the line, Kirsty Bortolin attacked, followed by Spratt, but by the time they passed opposite the start/finish line on the back straight, the bunch was back together again.
The final corner saw the usual 'scrap' for position. Down the long back straight, Jenny Macpherson powered forwards in what looked like a repeat of last night at Geelong. But out of the final corner, Wood was stronger and faster today and easily took the stage win, with time for a salute before the line, whilst Macpherson and Belinda Goss battled it out for second and third.
Afterwards, Oenone Wood confirmed that she had been more relaxed today, but, she added "I still wanted to be part of the bike race.... its always more fun to be up there having a go". She had been enjoying herself today, although the celebrations will not last long, as the Australian National Championships take place next week - Wednesday for the TT and Friday for the RR.
Wood's win was a show of strength and speed, but the NSWIS team had helped inadvertently helped her "one of the girls from the Porsche Drapac team attacked with one lap to go and Amanda Spratt from NSWIS, who's been riding really strongly went across to her, with Kate Nichols on her wheel and I followed Kate across and then Amanda Spratt led me out. It worked out well for me!"
The rest of Wood’s season is already mapped-out. She rides the National Championships next week, returns to home - Canberra for a training 'block' before returning to Geelong for the World Cup, over to New Zealand for World Cup Round 2 a week later and straight to Europe from there. A change from AIS to the German Nürnberger team is something which Wood is obviously relishing. She sees the move as developmental and is quick to point out the quality of her new team-mates. “the quality of the riders in the team is just going to help me develop – I think you always step up to the level that the other team-mates are riding at, so I’m really looking forward to it.” WomensCycling.net asked whether Wood had been disappointed not to take the 2004 Australian Women's road cyclist of the Year award (it went to Olympic Champion, Sara Carrigan). Wood, who dominated the early season, won the road race and time trial double at National level and then won the World Cup was diplomatic in her response “That sort of thing is not really as important as winning on the road and if I had to choose, I’d win on the road any day.”
Catching up with Belinda Goss after the race, WomensCycling.net was curious as to how this track rider felt about two third places on the road in two days.... "It was a great start back into the season, I'm looking forward to the track Nationals in early February in Adelaide." About riding against the likes of f Oenone Wood, Rochelle Gilmore and Jenny Macpherson, she said "its great to actually have her in our country to race her at home. Its awesome." Goss is not riding the road or TT titles next week, instead, concentrating on the track this year. Now based in Melbourne, she is in the right place for track - the Vodaphone is the track used for World, National and other major races, whilst the soon to be opened Daribin Sports Centre has an indoor track which will be available for training on too. Goss is just starting the second year of a Business Marketing course at Melbourne's RMIT university.
Speaking to relegation of the week, Skye-Lee Armstrong afterwards, WomensCycling.net asked the youngster who had phoned her coach on Wednesday to tell him about her win, only to put her Mum on the line to convince him that she was not joking, how she felt about her week "I was realty surprised to start with a win - I went from the start gun and held off, the two others came across - Oenone Wood and Kate Nichols and I outsprinted them and that put me in the green jersey, Even though I was in the yellow jersey, I knew that Oenone would take that so I went for the green jersey. To come out with the green jersey when I'm still under 19 - is great. I looking forward to next year, go a bit harder and maybe the yellow jersey - I was fifth overall this year and didn't really focus on yellow, so perhaps next year...... It was a good race today and I had a couple of attacks. Amanda Spratt who is my good friend and usual NSWIS team-mate had a good week too, so I was pleased for her too."
What about the fact that she had finished at the back of the bunch in a couple of the stages and dropped out last night at Geelong? "I was tired after the first day. It caught up with us juniors - we don't have long tours, just 2 day tours, so this 5 race week is tiring, plus being out by myself for most of Wednesday just caught up with me."
And her reaction to riding for World Cup winner 2004's Oenone Wood's Mercure on Swanston team? "I can't quite believe I'm in the same team, racing with her is enough, let alone being in her team. She's a really good team leader and I've learned a lot from her."
Armstrong's next racing is in Adelaide in the Australian National track titles in early February - the selection races for the Track World Championships. She wouldn't commit herself to naming a discipline, simply stating that "points, scratch or keirin, to go for a World's jersey in any will be great"
Day 5 Race Result
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