Tour Down Under - Advertiser Women's Criterium Series
Defending Champion, Jenny Macpherson returns to Adelaide with a win
Jenny Macpherson returned to Adelaide to defend her overall victory from 2005 and started her campaign in the best way - with a win. She took a hard-fought sprint over Kate Bates to pull on the yellow Series Leader's jersey, which she will wear for Race 2 in Euchunga on Thursday.
The race conditions were hot (around 32'C) and sunny, with a reasonable headwind to cause trouble on the back straight for the riders. There were around 40 starters to this round of the series, in front of a huge crowd, which had come out early to watch the women's race.
There was action for the whole race - riders tried repeatedly to get off the front, but were brought back each time. Attacks would last a lap or so before being brought back again into the bunch. The main protagonists in the breakaway attempts were Kate Bates, Natalie Bates, Alexis Rhodes, Amanda Spratt, Olivia Gollan, Jenny Macpherson, as well as Jessie Maclean and Sally Cowman - in various combinations.
The first attempt went away in the second lap, with Amanda Spratt, Olivia Gollan and Jenny Macpherson trying their luck. They were brought back within a lap, but a couple of laps later, Kate Bates, Olivia Gollan and Kate Nicholls attacked. They got some daylight on the bunch, but that was all. Next it was the turn of the other Bates, Natalie, who took Kate Nicholls with her on their short journey off the front. No sooner were they brought back, than Amanda Spratt counter-attacked and managed to stay away for about half a lap. Olivia Gollan, Natalie Bates and Jenny Macpherson managed to get a decent (10 second) gap at the front as the race entered the final couple of laps.
Everything was all together at the bell and the bunch spent the final lap manoeuvring at speed for position. As they entered the finishing straight, Gollan and another rider pulled over to leave Kate Bates exposed at the front, with Jenny Macpherson sitting on her wheel. As they accelerated, Macpherson moved right and into her own space, the sprint was "full-on". About 10m from the line, Kate Bates threw her bike forward towards the finish line, whilst Macpherson was still sprinting. The lunge may have been slightly too soon, although all that Bates had left; the judges called for a review of the photofinish which revealed that Macpherson had taken the race by less than the width of a tyre. Bridget Evans sprinted well and was third.
Jenny Macpherson "I knew quite a few of the girls had good form, coming off the Bay Series and we were all looking forward to 'showing off' in front of the big crowds here in Adelaide. [Kate Bates] has the confidence and she won the National Road Race last week, so her wheel was one worth watching.... I left it as late as I could, I got on her wheel and just came through in the last 100 metres and luckily no-one could come past us and I had enough to keep it over the line. I was disappointed with tenth place at the road race last week, so this definitely makes up for it." Jenny Macpherson was forced out of competition and serious training mid-2005 after a fall, where she injured her shoulder. An operation fixed it, but she spent many hours riding the indoor trainer, "I was training on the stationary bike and the ergo three times a week, but the monotonous training is definitely paying off." Did she come back to Adelaide determined to defend her 2005 title? "Oh definitely, it was my first big win of my career. The thought of coming back here is exciting. The crowds here make it such an awesome event." A perfect start to her defence in Adelaide tonight!
The Advertiser Women's Series
The Advertiser Women's Criterium Series is the richest series in Australia. With over $10,000 prize money up for grabs, the competition is serious and brings the best riders to Adelaide for the races. The first race is run prior to the men's race in Adelaide's centre, whilst races 2 and 3 take place on a circuit at a town where the corresponding men's Tour Down Under stage will pass through. On Thursday, the women will race in Euchunga and on Saturday, at Snapper Point, near to Wilunga.
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