Tour Down Under - Advertiser Women's Criterium Series
Snapper Point, Saturday 21st January
final race of the Advertiser Women’s series turned out to be an exciting
event. The temperatures at the Snapper Point, Aldinga Beach criterium rose
to over 37 degrees. Within one lap, the attacks started with Jessie Maclean
ACT attempting to get off the front. Unfortunately the bunch reacted and
Maclean was brought back in. The next attack was the decisive one of the
race, Olivia Gollan, riding in her new Nobili Rubinetterie team colours,
attacked off the front after two laps, the only rider to react was Sally
Cowman (QLD). The two worked well together and managed to gain 15 seconds
lead on the chasing peleton within a few laps.
The leaders managed to hold a 15 seconds lead right up until lap 8, when Alexis Rhodes, current Australian Criterium Champion, managed to bridge the gap to the leaders and added some much needed support. Within two laps the lead had stretched out to 30 seconds, this was despite the constant driving in the peleton, in particular from Natalie and Kate Bates (NSW), Bridget Evans (QLD) and series leader Jenny Macpherson (VIS).
With five laps to go, the lead had stretched out to one minute, the pace set by the leaders was extraordinary considering the heat during the event. This pace caused a number of riders to pull up and leave the race, whilst as they approached two laps to go, a few of the back markers were lapped by the leaders.
the bell, the gap was steady at one minute; the peleton seemed to have
accepted that they would be fighting out the minor places. These minor
places would be critical to the top placed riders in the series, in
particular Jenny Macpherson, who would have to finish in the top 6 to secure
her series win.
With the finish line in view, Olivia Gollan showed her world-class form by clearly outsprinting Rhodes and Cowman, despite having to sit up just after she began to wind it up when her sunglasses slipped off her nose and towards her chin. The result, though, was unaffected : Gollan took first, then Rhodes, Cowman third. A strong sprint from Jenny Macpherson was beaten by Kate Bates, who took fourth with Macpherson fifth.
There was a ten minute wait whilst the officials confirmed the series result. Jenny Macpherson had carried the yellow jersey all the way through the series to win, Sally Cowman was second and Bridget Evans, third.
1 Olivia Gollan (Nobili Rubinetterie)
2 Alexis Rhodes (SAIS)
3 Sally Cowman (NSWIS)
4 Kate Bates (Equipe Nurnberger)
5 Jenny Macpherson (VIS)
1 Jenny Macpherson (VIS)
2 Sally Cowman (NSWIS)
3 Bridget Evans (Fast Practice Bicycles.com)
Speaking after the win Olivia talked about the race; “After the first two laps I had the opportunity to attack, luckily Sally came with me and we managed to work well together, then Alexis joined us and we shared turns on the front." Asked about the finish, Gollan added “It was great to get in front as there was a big head wind on the finish line, I nearly lost my glasses in the sprint”. Asked if she had enjoyed the week’s racing Olivia said, “I rode out here this morning (80km) and I was aggressive in the race, I needed to do both. I have the Commonwealth Games, Geelong and New Zealand World Cups coming up. I have to step up my pace for Europe, we have a strong team going into the World Cups this year, and the races are going to be tough”.
WCN managed to catch up with Alexis Rhodes and Sally Cowman after their second and third place finishes repsectively: Alexis Rhodes was pleased with her ride “I knew they were a dangerous pair and once they got a gap it would be all over, I waited for the bunch to bring them back a little and jumped across, it was perfect really”. Had she suffered in the heat? “Obviously being from Alice Springs I have a bit of an advantage over the other girls, although I struggled as much as anyone”. Asked about her current form and about the next few months Alexis added “Criteriums are my thing, if I can’t do well in these I’ve had it, I have track nationals coming up, then Geelong tour and both World Cups, I hope to have a go in the Geelong prologue and some of the road stages.” Asked about plans to go to Europe this year, Rhodes added with enthusiasm "Yes I am going over but only to do some small races, I don’t want to burn myself out. I will be going with the AIS team and it should be another great experience, compared to last year. For me there is not pressure this year, it is just to see where I am at.”
Sally Cowman told “it was pretty tough in the heat I don’t like the heat, it was good to be in the break they attacked me towards the end in the back straight so I had nothing in the sprint. It was a good ride by ‘Liv’. Had it been a crunch race for her today? Yes, I could have clinched the series but at least I have stepped up a place on the podium overall, it was a good day for me I did what I set out to do so I am pleased”, asked what was next on her schedule she outlined, “home to Sydney and preparation for the Geelong World Cup”.
Bridget Evans finished third in the series talked to WCN “To be honest I am disappointed with today, I was hoping for second (in the series), today I had to watch the couple of riders below me go away, I knew Cowman was there and the points were close, and if they went up the road I had to make sure I watched them, I could not go in the break, the heat was incredible today, I come from Brisbane and I am use to racing in 35 degrees of hot and humid but the heat today was incredible and unbearable.” Asked if she plans to return to Europe this year Bridget added “I plan to be back for the European season, I don’t plan on riding for a women’s pro team this year, I hope to get some good results. I have been in a French and Italian team for the past 8 years; I am hoping to taste success for myself this year.”
One of the new young riders showing form already this year is Amanda Spratt (NSWIS) after the race she chatted about her weeks racing. “It has been tough this week, especially after the heat on Thursday. I think I was still recovering today, I was just pleased to support the team today and please with the result”.
Jenny Macpherson secured the series for the second year and said this about her win “It’s brilliant, I love racing here in Adelaide, it’s also great to have such a well supported race. The Advertiser (sponsors of the series and the $10,000 prize fund) has provided great support and coverage and photos for the races this week” Asked if she was worried about the break in the race “a little, I knew that I had to finish in the top 5 or 6 to secure the series and felt good during the race” On preparation for a race in the heat, Jenny said her preparation was “movies, shopping and lots of water yesterday and today I normally ride out to the race but today I drove here and just rolled around for a few laps”. On her plans for this year Jenny added, “I have a scholarship for the AIS this year so I will be heading out to Europe for a couple of trips, April to May, back in June and then back out for July to August. I am concentrating first on road preparations for the Geelong World cup first though; I have decided not to go to the track Nationals this year so that I am ready for Geelong.”
Photos Click on any image to enlarge
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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