Australian National Road Championships 2008
Buninyong, 102km (10 laps of a circuit)
Oenone Wood regained the Australian Road Race title in Buninyong today. She last pulled on the Champion's in 2004. The Canberran, who rides for Team High Road sprinted to victory in front of relative unknown, Sharon Laws, who was competing in her 8th ever road race.
90 strong field of women rolled out from Buninyong and immediately a break
of four emerged. The group included the newly crowned U23 Time Trial
Champion Amanda Spratt, Myra Moller (NSW), Ruth Corsett (QLD) and Sasha
Griffiths (QLD). The group managed to extend their lead out to 2 minutes
32 seconds ahead of the peloton until Lorian Graham (Vrienden van het
Platteland) attacked on the climb half way through lap 5, splintering the
attack created a group of riders including Wood, Carla Ryan (QLD), Vikki
Whitelaw (ACT), Carrigan (QLD), Tiffany Cromwell (SA), Laws (VIC) and
Carlee Taylor (SA). The group quickly gained ground of the leaders and
left the remaining riders to regroup and for a chase.
leading four riders split on the decent of fifth time over the climb as
Spratt and Corset put on the pace, the other two were swallowed up by the
Graham bunch on the decent.
the time the bunch passed the start/finish line with 3 laps to go they had
caught Spratt and Corsett and whittled the group down to seven riders.
Victims of the increase in pace were Cromwell, Corset and Spratt. They
tried hard to hold on the group and were just a few meters behind.
two to go Ryan (QLD) attacked with Taylor (SA) and the pair managed a
small gap. It was Whitelaw who worked hard to close the gap and bring the
group back together. At the climb the lead groups of riders were riding
well and were managing to hold a gap of 43 seconds to what was left of the
chasing peloton that included Katie Mactier (VIC) the 2007 Road Race
Champion, team mate of Wood, Alexis Rhodes, Emma Rickards (JaycoVIS),
Kathy Watt (VIC), Bridie O’Donnell (JaycoVIS) and Jocelyn Loane (QLD).
the bell Sharon Laws (VIC) launched a solo attack Wood was able to go with
her. The pair worked hard together to secure first and second. Sara
Carrigan (QLD) just managed to hang on for third.
The U23 competition was won by Carlee Taylor (SA) ahead of Tiffany Cromwell (SA) and Grace Sulzberger (VIC).
Wood (Team HighRoad) was very pleased with her win. “This is unreal” said
“I was helped so much by Vikki Whitelaw from Canberra and my team mate
Alexis Rhodes. I felt good and I knew I had good legs, I just had to be
patient” said Wood.
“I was keeping an eye on the Queenslanders Lorian [Graham] and Sara
[Carrigan] but I just knew I had to go with any breaks on the last climb.
Sharon [Laws] and I worked together so well that by the time we looked
around, the group was not in sight,” said Wood. Wood paid
tribute to her rival Laws, “Sharon
had an incredible and really impressive ride. I am amazed at the quality
of the field today, I mean there is just a whole generation of young
riders now who are exceptionally talented and it’s unreal for Australian
women’s cycling that there are so many girls chomping a the bit to take
our places,” added Wood. “It was definitely quality not
quantity out there today, there are girls I have never raced against who
are getting on the podium, so we all have to be on the top of our game,”
the support she had from fellow ACT rider, Whitelaw. “Vickie
rode an incredible race today; she did everything she needed to do to help
me to get the win today. It wasn’t just my win, she put in so much work
today she really had an impressive ride,” said Wood.
Wood was asked
how difficult it will be for selectors to choose a team for Beijing given
the talent on show today. “At
the moment quite difficult, there at least half a dozen women with their
hands up and the those early season World Cups will make it tough to
decide who goes,” added Wood.
Wood is riding
the Australian National Mountainbike Championships soon, just for fun.
Giant, her Team High Road sponsor, has provided a new bike for her to
ride. She was wearing a lucky charm on her helmet today and was asked
where it had come from and if she felt it had worked. “My cousin in Holland gave me a lucky charm and I don’t normally use
lucky charms but if someone gives you a lucky charm it is unlucky if you
don’t use it. I did not wear it at the time trial this week and I had a
big mishap so I learnt my lesson and put it back on.”
Laws (VIC) is
little known and was racing in only her eighth road race. She led Wood
into the final stretch for home but Wood’s experience saw her counter
the challenge. “I can’t believe it, I am just stoked,” said an
overwhelmed Laws as the realisation that she had just beaten the current
Olympic Champion began to sink in.
cyclist, who has based herself in Melbourne, landed in Australia a little
over a year ago. She spends most of her time 'on the road' in her role as
an Environmental Advisor for a mining company. This has meant that she
could only compete in a handful of races within the year. Her decision to
race Nationals was only made after she won the Tour of Bright (VIC) last
“I love tours and love hills so after the Tour of Bright, I had some
time off work in December and came here and did some work up these hills,
“ said Laws. “So I think now I might go away and
re-adjust my work situation.”
most of her opponents knew little about her, the list of competitor
initials and race numbers written in pen down her arm revealed she also
knew little about them. “I
had never ridden with such large bunches or with any of these girls
before, so I had no yardstick,” explained Laws. “I
knew all their names but I didn’t know any faces. I tried to look at
some pictures, but couldn’t learn them all, so I had to writes them down
my arm. As you can see I knew no one as I ran out of room,"
was happy to be on the podium for the second time after placing third in
the time trial earlier in the week. “I made a few attacks to test
the other riders out but the girls were right on to it,” said
Sharon [Laws] and Oenone [Wood] went, I
tried to follow, but I couldn’t get back on.”
was very happy to have won the U23 competition. When Amanda Spratt
attacked she thought her chance of winning the title had gone but the
break was caught and Taylor has a chance as Spratt could not hold on. “It
is my first National title so I am very pleased with it,” said
Taylor. “It’s not often we get SA first and second either,”
referring to the second place of team mate Tiffany Cromwell.
Lorian Graham (QLD) tried hard to make a break and force a change in direction of the race from a bunch sprint to a break. “I did not want the race to be the way the race was last year. It had been quite negative until that point and I wanted to tune it into a positive race. My training has been going really well and I have 12 months under me now. This race doesn’t compare to my first race back last year but I was determined to give it a go and I feel I did. I certainly had tired a few legs out there on the fifth lap and got the field down to nice number of 10 riders. We had a lot of Queenslanders there on the day and all credit to Oenone [Wood] she rode a great race,” said Graham.
Graham has her
sights set on Beijing and joining her new team in Europe Vrienden van het
is Beijing or nothing, I am looking down the barrel of that and last year
went above my expectations so I am hoping that this year will too. I knew
that if I made the World Championships last year that I had recovered and
now I am following my Olympic dream,” added Graham.
Rhodes (Team High Road) rode
a solid race for her team mate and was very happy with the result.
“For me the race was great today,
Oenone [Wood] won it today by herself, she was really strong today. I am
happy with my form and have had a great week with my third place in the
this week too,” said Rhodes.
Photos Click on any image to enlarge >>
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