Golden comeback for Alexis Rhodes
New Australian Criterium Champion is crowned
The third race of the Jayco Bay Series, encompassing the Australian National Criterium Championships, turned out to have a fairytale ending for Alexis Rhodes. Just 6 months after the horrific accident that took the life of team mate Amy Gillet and seriously injured Rhodes, she broke away with the help of team mate Kate Bates with 10 laps to go.
Rhodes showed a compelling level of strength and determination, she gradually increased her lead on the bunch to 25 seconds. The huge crowd could not hold back their show of support, for Rhodes and as the laps ticked by the volume from their cheers increased.
The bunch, lead by the Jayco VIS team, in particular Jenny MacPherson and Helen Kelly were doing all they could to bring the gap down and protect the series lead of team mate Katie Mactier, but Alexis was too strong. Rhodes increased her speed as she neared the finish, lapping the short circuit in under 1 minute. As she took the bell, she could not be caught, she completed the final lap in 53 seconds. With 50 meters to go, Rhode’s jubilation showed, she punched the air in celebration and enjoyed the cheers from the crowds as she coasted to the line with her arms raised above her head in a victory salute.
After the race Alexis Rhodes was very emotional. “Its’ been awesome, that last 5 laps, I didn’t want to celebrate too early, I was almost in tears, its really amazing. I had a lot of help today from all of my Pitcher Partners team mates, also the support of Lou, Katie (Nichols), Lorian (Graham) [also injured in the accident and present in Geelong today] and all the girls and of course Amy, I am sure she would be pretty stoked for me today.”
When told that it was very motivating stuff, that you could feel her adrenaline from the side of the road, Rhodes added “Yes it’s pretty emotional, I have all of my family here today and my boyfriend its just a great afternoon."
Asked whether there was going to be any chance of a place in the Commonwealth Games, Rhodes quipped “I’m not a selector, if I was then maybe, I still have a long way to go but I am coming back pretty quickly, so its great”.
Discussing the race and where the winning move was made. Alexis said “My team mate Kate Bates attacked and the bunch brought her back. We had an agreement that we were going to “one-two” them if that happened and I went, it was just perfect, it could have been Kate, but it was me that managed to get away."
Asked how that win felt deep down Alexis added, “Its amazing, the criterium is always my favorite event. I will wear this jersey with a lot of pride over the coming weeks, I will probably even train in it. I just very lucky today to get away, I love winning, this is a good stepping stone for me in my comeback, I won’t be celebrating tonight although I think my parents will be. I have the nationals coming up and a long season ahead to focus on”. Asked if this gave her confidence for the road nationals coming up Alexis reposonded “No, this is a flat course and there will be hills next week”.
Reactions from other riders to Alexis’ win were full of praise and admiration:
Bates “Didn’t I tell you the other day she was back?! its
awesome, very well deserved, she rode brilliantly today.”
Sara Carrigan “What a comeback I am so excited for her”.
Katie Mactier “That was a fabulous finish for Alexis, it wasn’t like we were giving it to her, we were trying to bring her back, she just has some great legs”.
Oenone Wood “ I am really proud of Alexis, she did a fantastic job today, I am really pleased she got the championship particularly after the year she has had”.
1 Alexis Rhodes (Pitcher Partners) 12 pts & Australian National Criterium Champion
2 Katie Mactier (Jayco) 10 pts
3 Oenone Wood (Mercure Hotel Welcome) 8 pts
Photos - click on any image to enlarge >>
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