Australian National Road Championships 2010
Road Race - Ruth Corset battles 40 degrees heat to become Australian Champion
Buninyong, 102km (10 laps of a circuit)
In the battle for the U23 jersey, Megan Dunn (NSW) who finished 7th overall, took the jersey ahead of Tiffany Cromwell (SA) and Loren Rowney (QLD).
With temperatures hitting the 40 degree mark when the women started their 102km race, it was the former rower Sally Robbins (QLD) led the bunch across the line to start the second lap. On the second ascent of the Mount Buninyong climb, the pace set by the leading riders ensured that the slower riders were shelled out the back.
As they headed for the top of the climb, Simone Grounds (QLD) attacked and six other riders went with her. Rochelle Gilmore (Lotto), Joanne Hogan (VIC), Rebecca Locke (VIC)m Belinda Goss (TAS), Lauren Kitchen (NSW) and Judith Arndt (Team Columbia-HTC). Over the top Arndt attacked the leaders and quickly gained an advantage on the decent. Arndt gained a maximum advantage of 2 minutes 17 seconds with 5 laps to go.
With 5 laps to go, the tarmac had started to melt in places as the road temperatures hit 47 degrees. The main chasing bunch was down to 30 contenders for the Green and Gold jersey. Arndt, if she had won, would have been awarded the medal and prize money only. On the climb for the fifth time, a leading group of 15 riders formed. This included some of the main contenders, Emma Mackie (Tibco), Corset, Vicky Whitelaw (Lotto), Tiffany Cromwell (SA), Megan Dunn (NSW), Alexis Rhodes (SA), Amber Halliday (SA), O'Donnell.
The gap to Arndt, started to come down and with 4 laps to go, the chasing group were joined by Rebecca Locke (VIC) and Rachel Neylan (SA) and the gap was at 1 minute 3 seconds. At the top of the climb half way through the third to last lap, Neylan attacked the bunch and closed the gap to Arndt. Sensing the danger as the leaders crossed with two laps to go, the remaining leading bunch of 15 riders started to launch attacks. The first of which came from Mackie (Tibco). Her speed put the rest of the group in pain and it splintered. Seven riders bridge the gap to Mackie, Corset, Hogan, O'Donnell, Whitelaw, Cromwell, Dunn and Halliday.
Corset immediately counter attacked and no one could respond. Corset bridge the gap quickly to the leaders and they worked together through to the climb immediately after the finish on the last lap. Corset took her opportunity and attacked just after the feed zone on Midland Highway. No one could respond.
Corset rode to the finish alone. In the chase behind, O'Donnell had bridged the gap to Arndt and Neylan and used all of her time trialling skills to move to the front. Arndt held on for third ahead of the very tired Neylan.
Ruth Corset (TIBCO) had the win of her career after she attacked the leading three riders on the final lap of the Australian Road Championship. "I am so happy about that win. I wanted this more than anything. I can't believe it. Emma [Mackie] did a great job to shake things up and gave me the opportunity to attack. i can take the jersey to Europe and my new team," said Corset.
Corset is a very proud mother of two and is very lucky to have the support of her husband Jason, "I can't wait to see my girls and Jason to celebrate," added Corset.
Emma Rickards (Team Director TIBCO) was very happy with the performance of her two riders, "This is perfect for us. To be able to take the Aussie jersey to the US and Europe is incredible," said Rickards
Bridie O'Donnell (VIC) worked hard to close the gap to the leading group. "I was in a really tricky position when Ruth [Corset] attacked, so I sat in tight with Tiffany [Cromwell] and Vicky [Whitelaw] and I got a second wind and attacked them just before the top of the climb," said O'Donnell. On the way to the finish O'Donnell had to work hard to beat Arndt and Neylan. "I knew that I could not catch Ruth or out sprint Rachel [Neylan] and Judith [Arndt] so I had to give it everything to try and get away from them on the run in, I just kept time trialling in to the finish" added O'Donnell.
Judith Arndt (Team Columbia HTC) rode the Australian Road championships for the second year inn a row. After a very frustrating 2009 [Arndt suffered three fractures, wrist, shoulder and arm], the Olympic Medalist and former World Champion gave it everything. "I don't really have form yet and I thought that I would get dropped when the good riders attacked in the final laps. I felt that if I was going to play any role I had to try to go early. When the group of 7 went away, I would have liked it better if it had stayed together but it didn't, so I just went for it," said Arndt.
Rachel Neylan (QLD) initiated the attack to cross to the lone leader, hoping that it would help her team mates, Alexis Rhodes, Tiffany Cromwell and Amber Halliday. She never expected to stay away to the finish. "Half way through the race I wasn't sure how I felt. I was trying to set something up for my team mates and i guess it just worked in my favour," said Neylan.
Megan Dunn (NSW) is one of the many young talented riders coming through the ranks. She was very happy to have won the U23 category and learnt some lessons during the race too. "I am very happy. I spoke to Gary [Sutton] this morning and he asked me how I was feeling, I said "i will be glad to finish", so to get a medal and a gold one is great," said Dunn.
Tiffany Cromwell (SA) really wanted to win and was gracious in defeat, "It is great for Megan [Dunn], she deserves the medal. I really wanted the win today. But I just didn't have enough in the end," said Cromwell.
Loren Rowney (MC Cycles) was the very unexpected third in the U23 category, "I can't believe I got third," said Rowney. "I looked around in the break and could not believe the company I was in. This is only my second road championship. I didn't finish my first race so to finish and get a medal is incredible," added Rowney.
Alexis Rhodes (Webcor/SASI) has had a mixed championships after double punctures on the time trial and her team missing out on a medal, "I am really pleased despite my time trial. We tried really hard today and nearly came away with a medal," said Rhodes.
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