Australian Road National Championships 2013
Road Race- Elvin wins sprint and green and gold jersey
Gracie Elvin (Orica-AIS) was not the identified rider Orica-AIS's but she proved that given any opportunity she can win. In a drag sprint to the line, Elvin started her sprint with 300m to go and managed to hold onto the win on the line ahead of Joanne Hogan (Jayco Apollo VIS) and Carla Ryan (Cyclelive plus- Zannata).
With a new look course, two big laps of 27.7km and 5 small 10.2 km loops, the 2013 championships became one of the most exciting women's races in years. After the dominance of Orica-AIS in the 2012 championship, they did not get it all their own way with constant attacks that challenged the team.
In the first lap, Jessie McLean (Orica-AIS) created the early break with Lisa Jacob (Jayco Apollo VIS), Rebecca Werner (Specialized Securitor) and Lucy Coldwell, who is actually Scottish but resident in Australia.
The four opened up a 1 minute 50 gap by the time the had completed the first lap. The main peloton were content to ride tempo until the third time up the Mount Buninyong climb and a gap of 3 minutes 30 seconds after 47.7km of racing. Gracie Sultzberger (Jayco AIS) attacked the peloton but she was chased by Bridie O'Donnell. O'Donnell caught and passed Sultzberger and managed to gain a small 17 second gap on the chasing peloton. This caused a reaction from the bunch and the gap to the four leaders started to fall.
With 5 laps to go, McLean and Coldwell attacked the other two leaders just after the feed zone. From the peloton, the attacks were coming thick and fast. Sultzberger, Hogan and former winner Ruth Corset were all active. The gap had reduced to 1 minute 18 seconds by the time the leaders started three laps to go. McLean had stopped working forcing Coldwell to do more of the effort. The two remaining leaders were swamped by the chasing peloton.
Tiffany Cromwell (Orica-AIS) tried to bridge to the two leaders but could not make it. Then Corset managed to gain a gap and bridge. Meanwhile McLean had dropped off the front, leaving Corset and Coldwell in the lead. Coldwell could not hold the wheel of Corset and she dropped back. Corset managed to gain a 17 second lead but it was quickly diminished.
Victorian Mountain biker, Miranda Griffiths bridge to Corset with Hogan, Rachel Neylan (Hitec), Shara Gillow (Orica-AIS), Sultzberger. A leading group of 17 riders formed that included 2012 World Road silver medallist Rachel Neylan, Mountain Biker, Rebecca Henderson, Peta Mullens, Lauren Kitchen, eventual U23 winner, Queenslander Emily Roper, Orica-AIS's, 2012 Australian road champion Amanda Spratt and 2013 newly crowned Time Trial champion Shara Gillow.
With two assents of Mount Buninyong left the attacks started as soon as the peloton left the main street of Buninyong. Sultzberger split the bunch on the early part of the climb before, Hogan, Ryan, Griffiths managed to get a gap. The three leaders had a 100m gap before Elvin bridged across.
At the bell, the gap was 1 minute 19 seconds. Corset and Neylan tried to bridged across but the four leaders were working well together at the front of the race.With 4km to go the gap was 30 seconds to Neylan and Corset, with Gillow, Cromwell and Sultzberger 15 seconds behind them.
Neylan, Cromwell, Gillow and Sulzberger made their final move in an attempt
to reach the front before the finale. In the end the
downhill run to the finish favoured the leaders and they were able to sprint
for the win.
lead the group near the top of the climb with Elvin sitting on the back.
Corset was pushing the pace in the second bunch with Neylan, Cromwell and
Gillow all struggling the hold the former champion's wheel. The lead was
still 40 seconds with around 8km remaining.
into the finish Elvin had moved herself to the back of the group ensuring
she would not be leading out into the headwind sprint. The four slowed.
Hogan waited but it was Elvin who’s lack of experience made her jump with
500m to go. Elvin and Hogan drag raced to the line. In the final metres it
was Elvin who just held on, taking Orica-AIS's second championship title for
Gracie Elvin (Orica-AIS) was still in a state of shock when she received the coveted Green and Gold jersey, “It’s a dream to win the national jersey,” said a shocked Elvin. “I’m in disbelief, I am shaking," said Elvin.
“It wasn’t the result we were expecting, but it’s still a great outcome,” said Elvin, speaking about her talent- team mates
“I tried not to do too much work at the front because I wasn’t up to the climbing abilities of the other girls such as Carla and Jo, so I looked after myself and made sure we stayed away,” said Elvin, who signed with Orica-AIS for 2013 after serving an apprenticeship with the Jayco-AIS team, where she earned an Oceania road race title.
“I did not feel so good early on. Then with two laps to go on the hill, I just thought, ‘oh well, here we go, let’s see how far I can get’, I’m just happy I made it to the break and was able to hold the girls out in the sprint,” the former mountain biker said.
Joanne Hogan (Jayco Appollo VIS) just missed out on gold, but silver was a sweet result, Hogan said she was happy that the Jayco-VIS team tactics had been executed. “The plan was to have someone in an early break, and we did that with Lisa,” Hogan explained. “I just tried to get into the right position and protect myself, because I knew I’d have to attack later up the climb. I was concerned when Gracie came across because I know she has a big kick, I backed off and went late in the sprint but she was just a bit too strong.”
Hogan attributed her result to the experience she has gained racing in Europe, "There is nothing like riding in Europe. My spanish professional cycling team Bizkaia – Durango have enabled me to gain lots of experience and more confidence" added Hogan.
Carla Ryan (Cyclelive plus- Zannata) was very disappointed with her bronze medal. Ryan said she could not have out-sprinted Elvin. “I backed myself in the group until Gracie came across,” Ryan said. “I knew I could beat the other two girls in a final sprint and I was feeling alright, but when Gracie came across it definitely made things tough. I’m disappointed, I would have loved to have worn that jersey again but it’s a credit to Gracie , she rode an awesome race,” said the 27-year-old.
Emily Roper (QLD) is a star of the future and she could not have been happier, "I could never have imagined that I would come to Ballarat and leave with two gold medal, the Criterium champion and the Road Race champion so it is good" said Roper after she was awarded the U23 medal. "You never know how you will go. I have just stepped up to the senior ranks. There were only a few of us [U23] so it was great to be in there with the older riders. It is just about getting experience and a great stepping stone. But getting a medal is special, we are not as strong as the elite riders but we are getting there," added Roper.
Lucy Coldwell (GBR) was allowed to ride the championships on the basis that she is an Australian resident. She certainly stirred thing up with her climbing ability. "I
Dave McPartland (Orica-AIS Team Director) was a very relieved man at the end of the race, "It was a pretty stressful race out there today. We had the race taken to us a lot more this year than last year. It is a big relief to take the jersey now to Europe," said McPartland.
Reflecting on Elvin's performance, "I was confident that Gracie would win if it came to the finish line together. I knew the other women were all good climbers so that was a concern,"
Asked what was the plan, McPartland added, "Gracie was not the one we had planned being up there at that part of the race. The actual plan was to have her do the early break. Instead it was Jess McLean that did that which allowed Gracie to be better for later on. It really did not go to plan but it shows that we are versatile enough that we could still get a result. All credit to Gracie."
Jessie McLean (Orica-AIS) was not expected to be in the break, 'I had my poker face on at the start. But not now, I am so happy we won, we rode so well together," said McLean
Amanda Spratt (Orica-AIS) won in 2012 and reflected on the new course, "It is an exciting new course. I think it will mix things up a bit. I am excited to come here and race. I have fond memories of last year. We have a strong team here and we have a good plan, so we are motivated. It was interesting to see the break get away [in the U23 mens race]. Often the U23 men's race reflects how our race will pan out so we have definitely taken that on board," said Spratt
Rachel Neylan (Hitec) wearing her new team kit had high expectations "I think it is going to be a really tough race and really aggressive. It is a super talented and very motivated field here today. Probably the best we have ever seen in Australia in recent years. I am really excited about the challenge. I plan to try to galvanise the motivation I have had since the World Championships and give it everything," said Neylan
Sarah Roy (Crino Cycles) tried to create a break during the criterium and was hoping for success in Buninyong, "I did try on Thursday and I have pulled up well for today. I am hoping for a good ride," said Roy
Carla Ryan (Cyclelive plus- Zannata) won in 2009, so knows what is takes to win, "I am excited and nervous at the same time. To be honest this is probably one of the strongest fields that i have every raced in a national championship. It is going to be a very tough race. I expect an early break, but it will depend on the strength and make up of the group whether it will make a difference to the overall result," said Ryan
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