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Team Univega warms up in the rain
Carnegie's club criterium dominated by Swiss pro squad
Emma Rickards first woman in years to win 'B' grade outright
On a morning which deteriorated sufficiently during the 'B', 'D' & 'E' grade events for the 'A' and 'C' grade events which were to follow on the same circuit to be cancelled, Emma Rickards took overall victory in the mixed men's and women's race by virtue of a long, strong sprint to the line.
The 'B' grade race was dominated by Team Univega, who are in Melbourne ready for the Geelong Tour, which starts on Tuesday. The Tour precedes the Geelong World Cup - the first of the season and thereby marking this week as something of a season-opener for the women's road peleton. Warming-up for Tuesday's first 2 stages in Portarlington, Team Univega showed an impressive display of teamwork which resulted in the win.
Early in the race, Priska Doppmann was involved in a breakaway of 5 riders. They drove the pace and gained a couple of hundred metres' lead with 15minutes to go. Then, as the rain became much heavier, the bunch began to peg-back time and although the break went into the bell lap with a small advantage, it was clear that the race was going to end in a sprint.
As the leaders cornered with 150m to go, the pace increased. The sprint looked to be taking place on the left hand side of the road, but a small, lone figure on the right hand side was keeping pace with those at the head of the dash for the line. Emma Rickards was in the right hand gutter and challenging for victory. As they neared the line, she accelerated and was clearly ahead, but looked to be tiring and slowing. Rickards, however, ignored the pain and kept going, hanging on to take the first outright women's win in 'B' grade since Anna Wilson did so several years ago.
Doppmann finished safely in the bunch, job done, with the rest of the Univega team.
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