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Australian National Road Race
Kate Bates takes her first road race championship gold medal
Kate Bates took the Australian National Road Race Championship in style at Mt Torrens. Following a final lap breakaway by Amanda Spratt, she crossed the gap and then rode strongly with fellow breakaway, Sara Carrigan towards the finish. Spratt did not have enough to stay with the pair as they headed towards the finish. As they came into sight of the finish line, Bates was ahead of Carrigan. A quick glance over her shoulder told her that she had the advantage and with a decreasing, but still worthwhile gap over the bunch, Bates was able to savour this, the win which she had said last week would be her "dream".
Bates will now have the honour of wearing the green and gold jersey for the remainder of the season. Her new European professional team, Nürnberger will have seen her perform only once in the blue and white jersey team jersey - she will now join the other champions in the team in wearing their special jerseys in the peleton. World Road Champion, Regina Schleicher and German Road Champion, Trixi Worrack also ride for Nürnberger.
The race 'hotted up' quickly with first lap break from Kate Mercer and Maryam Rogers. The pair gained a maximum lead of 45 seconds at the back of the circuit before being caught as the race was in the second of five laps. Mercer went again on her own during the second lap, but again was unable to create any kind of sustainable gap.
Jessie Maclean was the next to attack - gaining a maximum lead of 1 minute 45 seconds whilst out on her own. Maclean lasted for just about a lap before being brought back by an attentive bunch. The race then settled into its own pace, although there was enough speed in the main bunch for it to split into two - a main bunch and then a smaller, chasing group about 2 minutes down.
As the race approached the final right-hand turn on the circuit, just a kilometre or so from the start / finish line in Mt Torrens, NSWIS first year senior, Amanda Spratt jumped away. Her move was followed by Kate Bates and then Sara Carrigan, who sensed the danger in the break. Spratt did not have the legs to continue with such auspicious and on-form company and dropped back. Bates and Carrigan continued, working well together around the back of the circuit. Their lead went up to over 1 min 30 seconds. As they moved into the final 10 kilometres, the bunch started to wind things up and the gap began to drop. However it was too late and there was no doubt that it would be a two-up finish when the lead was announced at 45 seconds with 3 kilometres to go.
All eyes strained down the finishing straight to see the pair come into sight. As first the police outriders, then the service and commissaire cars approached the line, it was not possible to see the riders. Then, the head of Kate Bates appeared over the rise in the centre of the road, quickly followed by Carrigan at the side of the road. Bates had the advantage and sprinted in strongly to finish ahead of Olympic Champion, Sara Carrigan, who was clearly tiring.
Oenone Wood took the bunch sprint for the bronze medal ahead of Katie Mactier and Bridget Evans. Kathy Watt finished strongly in eighth place after her time trial win on Wednesday.
Kate Bates "I'm always finishing second so I opted to sit the time trial out because I thought I'm just going to give this a crack and if I don't win it, its 'cos I'm not good enough its not 'cos I've done another race before. Its great for the confidence, its fantastic actually, a new team, a new jersey!" When asked if there as going to be a family celebration (after sister, Natalie took a bronze medal in the time trial on Wednesday), she replied "Yeah, I think so. Natalie did so well the other day in the time trial and I was just so proud of her and she rode amazingly today. With 2 laps to go she actually had a really good break and I got excited for her and I think that feeling helped me on and if we can both make the (Commonwealth Games) team that's just be really something special." How did this medal compare to others on the track? "This is the best thing I've ever done. There's absolutely no question. To be National Champion is something special and to take the jersey with you (to Europe) is special and I know that I'm only just beginning to learn what I'm capable of and I think today is hopefully the start of what can be a big year on the road for me."
Bates has no plans for 2006 other than to settle in at new team, Nürnberger "I just want to integrate myself into Nürnberg really well and to help Oenone win another World Cup and we've got the World Champion (Regina Schleicher) as well, so its a pretty special team ad I just want to become part of that." she continued "I had a text message from our team director its said 'you must bring the jersey back' and I said to 'N'ones' (team-mate at Nürnberg Oenone Wood) 'gee that's pressure' and she said to me 'they're German, I think they just mean we'd like you to bring the jersey back'. Its a leap of faith brining me into the team, its such an impressive line-up, so to be able to take a National Champion's jersey over there is something which I think will impress them." How does Bates see her form at the moment, looking forward to the Commonwealth Games? "I'd say its a good sign. I'd say I'm on track to make the Commonwealth Games at my best."
Last week at the Bay Series, Bates told WomensCycling.net that it would be her dream to take the National Champion's jersey in the road race this week. How confident had she been of her form then? "I was very confident that I had good form, but road races are such that anything can happen. But when I'm feeling like this I tried to make the race my own a little bit and that's what I did today. I didn't wait for anyone else, I went out there and had a dig and I actually thought with 10 km to go 'if I don't win this, there's nothing I can do - I've done everything and I've put myself in the race."
Sara Carrigan (on achieving her second silver medal this week) "consistency, if you're looking for consistency. But I was going for the win today, but I'm very happy for Kate, she gets to take the Champion's jersey overseas this year and she was really strong today." How had she read the winning, break, know to go? "Kate hadn't done anything all day and then Amanda Spratt went and Kate bridged to her and I thought "jeez, that's dangerous, so I jumped out of the bunch as quickly as I could to get across and Amanda had already dropped off Kate, so I went passed Amanda and got onto Kate and we worked together really well to the finish. She was pulling really strong turns and it was always going to be a tough finish with Kate, she's an awesome sprinter and it suited her, slightly uphill and a bit of a headwind. I'm really happy for her. She wanted it badly today, she opted to miss the time trial specifically for this. I tried a bit of an attack around there on the back (of the circuit), but Kate wouldn't even have known, it wasn't going to work, I kind of half came around and well, decided to just try and work it around in the sprint, but she took it away and won by a couple of bike lengths."
Photos Click on any image to enlarge >>[2007/Gallery2006/AusNatOpenRoad/RR/PhotoIndex.htm]
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