Commonwealth Games 2006
Melbourne - Road Events
Road Race - 100km, Royal Botanical Gardens, Melbourne
Natalie Bates takes gold
Bates (AUS) won the Women’s road race in a superb victory over compatriot
Oenone Wood who took Silver and Nicole Cooke (Wales) who had to settle for
Women’s road race weaved its way through the Botanical Gardens and out to
the Melbourne streets and along the Yarra River that winds its way through
estimated 100,000 plus crowd lined the route of the 11.13km course for the
100.17km race as the women wound their way round.
attacks started right from lap one with almost 10km covered the New
Zealander Toni Bradshaw initiated a move that took with her a representative
from almost every team including Natalie Bates (AUS), Mandy Poitras (CAN),
Emma Jones (ENG) and the Malaysian Noor Azian Binti
Alias who has been training in Melbourne for a couple of months to
prepare for this race. Of the contending countries in with a chance of a
medal, there was a notable absence from the current Commonwealth Champion
Nicole Cooke, who was the lone rider for Wales not benefiting from support
from other team mates.
break managed to forge a big lead gaining 2 minutes 45 seconds on the
peleton by lap 4. There were a number of attempts to close the gap to the
leaders but these were well marshalled by the Australian Olivia Gollan and
Canadian Amy Moore.
first casualty of the race came just after Nicole Cooke (WAL) attacked on
the climb to the start/finish area. The peleton rode over the crest of the
hill and Australian, Olivia Gollan, who had chased down Cooke, glanced back
to see if the peleton was with her and clipped the wheel of Cooke , who had
slowed slightly and swung over for Gollan to take the. Gollan hit the deck
and in visible shock of what was unfolding in front, Melissa Holt (NZL) rode
over Gollan. Holt was launched into the air; her bike came up clipped and
flew into the path of Rachel Heal (ENG). Unfortunate for Holt she did not
come out of the crash well fracturing her collarbone. The other two riders
managed to get themselves back onto their bikes. Heal though was not up
right for long, she over cooked it on the dead turn and slid to the ground.
The England team reacted by sending Nikki Harris and Wendy Houvenaghel back
to bring Heal up to the peleton. Gollan had to receive a substitute bike
while the mechanics worked to repair the damage to hers, switching it back
after one lap.
Bates spent most of the day out in front with the breakaway group. Although
she shared the work in the early race, she sat at the back to conserve
energy for most of the second half of the race. Emma Davies Jones (ENG) made
an attempt to get away, but Jones was quickly closed down by the New
Zealander Toni Bradshaw.
four laps to go the peleton was split by an attack from Nicole Cooke. She
powered up the climb on Punt Road taking only the strongest riders with her
amongst the group were the Australians, Carrigan, Wood, Gollan, Kate Bate
(AUS) and Gina Grain (CAN). The group came back together on the decent
towards the Botanical Gardens.
the same lap, Emma Davis Jones suffered a mechanical problem, her chain
locked. Fortunately she was not forced to chase the group up the climb as
they decided to wait for her. She managed to get back onto the group just as
the Malaysian rider Noor Azian Binti Alias quickly gained a 50m and 5 second
gap on the leaders. Jones showed her strength by moving to the front of the
group to bring her back.
Bates attacked with three laps to go and the other breakaways could
not go with her. She quickly gained 34 seconds on the chasers. There was no
reaction in the group of four and Bates was allowed to move away. She
quickly increased her lead to 2 minutes 42 on the chasers and held the bunch
around 4 minutes.
the bell Bates had increased her lead to 4 minutes, the chasers had appeared
to watch each other, none of them wanting to chase Bates. However Davies had
realised that the peleton were close and she attacked as they crossed the
start/finish line with one to go. The peleton were 28 seconds behind the
chasers and closed the gap on the chasers as they left the grounds of the
4 km to go Bates was starting to look like she was enjoying the moment. Only
a disaster would have stopped her from winning the Gold at that stage. As
Natalie Bates approach the 150m to go she celebrated her win, smiling and
waving to the crowd.
The chase for Silver and Bronze started at 1500m to go, Cooke attacked again taking 6 other riders with her. New Zealand’s Kiesanowski and Ulmer, Australian’s Wood, Kate Bates and Gollan and the Canadian Gina Grain. At 1000m Carrigan and Gollan (AUS) led out Wood (AUS) with Cooke on her wheel. At the line, Wood took silver and Cooke took Bronze.
medal winner, Natalie Bates
was overjoyed with her win “Only one person gets the gold medal, but
it was a really emotional win because of the last 12 months, I will not be
the only one on the podium. All of my team-mates will be with me. I was
completely boosted by the emotion of the event.” Talking about the
race “It was a really early break, I thought it was a good chance to
have a bit of a dig to set things up for later. When the New Zealand rider
had a go, I used that to launch. I was lucky that I was able to sit in the
break and look after myself a bit.”
whole team joined Natalie and Oenone on the podium and when asked about this
she added, “It’s unique. It’s a team sport and we are a
fantastic team. We were able to put it together on the day. Having everyone
on the podium was very special.”
Bates was asked if her Dutch team would b please with her win “Next week I’ll be with my team riding in Flanders. I reckon they’ll be pleased because they’ll know I’ve got good legs.”
Silver medallist and close friend of Bates Oenone Wood, shared the emotion of the win ‘We knew she (Natalie) could look after herself and we could sit in the bunch. In the end it got tough in the bunch, but I knew Nat could win. Nicole Cooke really gave it to us today, but the Aussies were in numbers and we were too strong in the end.”
talked about the team plans for the race “Our goal was to win gold
today. Going into the race as favouites put a ot of pressure on us. To have
Nat it the break was perfect. When Nat broke away and got some time, we were
able to chase the rest of the break and go for the silver. It was a whole
team effort. Neither of us would have a medal today if we didn’t have the
team behind us.”
was pleased with her ride “ it means as much to me to get a bronze
medal as getting gold in Manchester. I’m happy with myself. I think we
should put a notice out there though ‘Five Welsh Cyclists needed’. They
(Australians) rode a perfect race. They were strong and I knew I wouldn’t
be able to cover all of their moves.”
Cooke had not included herself in the points race or Time
Trial events earlier in the games, rumours had circulated she would also
decide to miss the road race. "When
I broke my collarbone last year I had limited time to train, so I had to
choose my best event and that is the road race," she said.
Cycling is getting stronger and I think it's only a matter of time until we
are just as dominant as the Aussies - I hope!"
Kate Bates slammed her brakes on as she reached the area where Natalie was keeping cool watching the finish. She jumped off her bike, shoved her sister in the back and gave her a huge hug. “I’m more emotional than Natalie. Nat works so hard and it’s not often she is on the top of the podium. I wanted to stop with a lap to go to see Nattie win. It’s so exciting, Natalie, really deserves this. It was a fantastic ride by the team. Any one of us could have won today but I’m really glad that it was Nat. These games have been amazing for sisters, I think we have all medalled.”
As Olivia Gollan greeted Natalie Bates, she exclaimed “I bled for you”. Gollan was over the moon about the teams’ performance and a little embarrassed about her crash “It was my fault I know, I’m an idiot. I am so pleased my best mate just won the gold medal and it’s the best moment I have ever had, its brilliant. At least I made the news” she said to the waiting media.
Sara Carrigan joined in the team celebration “It was awesome today, I am just so glad we won.”
came into the race with a back injury, asked if she was disappointed with
the ride “I’m tired, sore, disappointed, everything. When we lost
Melissa Holt, it was a huge loss of horsepower to our team. We were backing
Toni (Bradshaw), to tell you the truth, I was a bit unreliable today and not
quite good enough. It’s just one of those bizarre weeks. Sometimes the
team has no momentum and you can’t do anything right and other times you
can’t do anything wrong. I tried to lead Jo (Kiesanowski) out for the
sprint but that didn’t come off either.”
about her plans after the games and whether she will be taking a break from
the bike Sarah added “Oh hell yeah, I’ve got to get the body right
so that I can start dreaming of September (World Road Championships).”
of the most important people for the Women’s Road team is the women's
coach Warren McDonald. He has
been with this team for over two years and has experienced some very low and
very high moments all, of which have cemented his relationship with the
riders. The team has won five out of a possible six medals in the road
events, which marks an amazing performance for the team. The team's efforts
in Melbourne are a remarkable tribute to McDonald's efforts, but talking to
him, he still refuses to recognise his contribution to their success,
although he willingly recognises the contribution of the other members of
the coaching and support team and riders’ commitment.
he labeled the six women selected for the Commonwealth Games road team as
saying, "It's the strongest team we've fielded at a Commonwealth Games and even a
world championships and it's going to be exciting!" Today, the
team lived up to all expectations
"These girls are so experienced. I'm more of a consultant. With the girls we can come up with a plan. It wasn't my race plan it was more the girls' plan. My job is very much about communication. I asked Nat how she felt and she said she felt brilliant so we supported that. It was her decision to break away from the break”. She (Natalie) said 'I'm going to go next lap' and she timed it perfectly. That's the thing. They all race overseas and they know what to do. Yesterday's meeting was the best meeting I've had with an Australian team. They all had good form. We had three riders to use for opportunity. Nat, Liv and Sarah are all strong break away riders, so we knew putting a rider in an early break was a good scenario for us. She (Natalie) went away and she looked great. I just told her to keep it smooth. We knew Nat was strong. I think she was a bit of a dark horse to the other teams, but she's a very strong rider and I don't think we've seen the best of her yet."
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