Tour Down Under - Advertiser Women's Criterium Series
Euchunga, Thursday 19th January
Natalie Bates rode away with a terrific solo victory today in Euchunga. Finally breaking away from a small group which had slipped off the front of the bunch on an extremely hot day, she was away for several laps and was close to catching the bunch on the 600m circuit.
There were lulls in the chase by the others and the breakaway group was formed and reformed several times in the 30 minute race. Just as it seemed that there would be a mass sprint for second, National Criterium Champion, Alexis Rhodes, launched herself for a final effort with a lap to go. She didn't manage to maintain any daylight between herself and the group and it came down to a bunch sprint after all.
The race was active throughout, on just the second lap, Alexis Rhodes and Jessie Maclean tried to escape, but were only able to 'hang' just off the front of the group. Next it was the turn of Jenny Trew, Sally Cowman and Natalie Bates to go, they gained a 2 or 3 second gap before being brought back. Natalie Bates had clearly decided that this was her day and the next move involved her, Kate Nicholls, Jenny Trew and Leeanne Manderson. The race was only a few minutes old and there had been three attacks already.
Emma Mackie strung the bunch out a couple of laps later and some riders were dropped off the back with the reaction she caused. Next came the move which led to the break which Bates launched herself from. Kate Nicholls, Alexis Rhodes, Olivia Gollan, Jenny Macpherson, Bridget Evans, Sally Cowman and Emma Mackie were there with Bates. She sat for a lap or so in the group, whilst the race seemed to settle into 2 groups, then accelerated away, no to be seen again.
Bates kept her head down and worked hard to extend her lead. She was able to see the back of the main bunch (which included sister, Kate Bates) as she came into the finishing straight for the last few laps - she kept closing the gap. On her final lap, she was just a few seconds behind the group and had actually lapped some of those who had lost contact late in the race.
There was plenty of time to celebrate as she neared the finish. A 2-handed salute was accompanied by a huge smile and then time to roll off around the circuit for a warm-down before the chasers came into sight.
Jenny Macpherson defended her yellow jersey by taking second place, whilst Kate Nicholls showed a continued return to form with third.
The series lead remains with Jenny Macpherson as the series moves to Snapper Point on Saturday (11:30am, Snapper Point, Aldinga Beach).
Natalie Bates, who took bronze in the Australian TT Championships last week, gave an insight, perhaps, into her race tactic, when she admitted that .... "that's the kind of training I've been doing, a fair bit of time trial work. It's the stop and start of criteriums that really hurts me, in an out of the corners and the bunch sprints, where I don't stand too much of a chance so I have to kind of hedge my bets that way and try to hang on."
Jenny Macpherson was excited by the fact that Race 2 saw her in yellow "this is the first time that I've worn a leader's jersey in an event. She was confident about her chances of defending the lead in Saturday's race "I think I've just go to make sure I finish up there, its going to be tough with some of these riders around, but I'm looking forward to it." About her new-found sprint: "I think a week of working as a lead-out for my team-mates in the sprint (in the Bay Series) helped me, working hard into the wind, its starting to pay off now and realise that I've got the strength to be up there.
1 Natalie Bates (AA Drink)
2 Jenny Macpherson (VIS)
3 Kate Nicholls (Clarence Street Cyclery)
4 Alexis Rhodes (SAIS)
5 Olivia Gollan (Nobili Rubinetterie)
6 Bridget Evans (Fast Practice Bicycles.com)
7 Sally Cowman (NSWIS)
8 Emma Mackie (QAS)
9 Tiffany Cromwell (South Australia)
10 Vicki Eustace (ACT)
Photos More to come - check back next week - WCN is having some technical problems with this gallery which will not be fixed until after the weekend. Sorry
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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