15 January 2008

Australian Women's Road Race

I had one day between races to get ready for the Women’s road race. Which was plenty of time to recharge the body, and sort out the two bikes I had racing in the morning. With ten laps of a nice little 10.5km course, it was going to be a little bit of fun, especially if the weather was as hot as it has been like the rest of the week. This was the biggest field of Elite Women that Australia had ever seen at the nationals. Most of them were the young up and coming riders, which is sweet for the future of the sport here. The course was using the same climb out of the start/finish area as TT course, but it went a bit further up, and then a real long, not as steep grovel to the top of the course for another few km’s. Then it was all down hill to the finish, almost 5km in total, so there was a bit of time for recovery, but not if the speed was high.

Hey it's Oneone, on the way to the start line.

I only had two riders, but as usual, there were a few other calls and visits from other riders, having a bit of trouble with their bikes. And my usual habit of not saying no, gave me a bit more work to stop the boredom. Both Oneone and Alexis were racing today, with the other Aussie in the team, Kate, heading off with the National Track Team to LA, for another World Cup series. It was nice to be able to sort a few issues with the two bikes, now that I had a bit of time up my sleeve. I was hanging out with the VIS (Victorian Institute of Sport) at the Bay Crits, and was giving them a bit of help, also if they needed at all the National races as well. They had no mechanic for the week, so was nice to help the girls with the odd problems they were encountering. Plus I get to ride in the race caravan, helping not only my girls, but also anyone else in the VIS.

Hey isn't that Alexis on the left, she's talking to Katie Mactier

The U23 boy’s were on the course when we arrived, and not knowing any of the riders, I watched the sprint finish, who knows who won. It then got me into race mode for the afternoon. The heat was starting to increase, with a high of 35’c just around the corner, I was glad we had some air conditioning during the race, otherwise it would have been unbearable. The girls were ready, looking good in their Team Highroad racing kit, I wondered how hot it would be in the sun today. The transition is almost complete, with the new bikes on the way, our colours were starting to look fantastic for the season. The black and silver shirts would match the bikes, and we would again, stand out as much as the magenta did in the peloton. The bikes were ready, the girls were ready, the start was about to happen, and that means half my job out of the way for the day, hope there is no crashes. The race was off, soon we would find the new Aussie champ for the season, and what a blast having the national colours on your back for the year. Just a shame that it’s such a boring shirt, now where near as cool as the New Zealand colours (black, with a huge silver fern on it), but I an a bit biased.

Righto, 102km to go, I want a clean race, and no fighting

The race started pretty slow, so slow, we almost fell asleep in the following car. But the heat was a killer, just opening the window to give friends shit, was almost too much heat. There was a break of about five riders right from the very first climb, I didn’t know any of the group bar one, Spratty (world famous in Europe). The four seemed to stay away for the first five laps or so, swapping a few riders out occasionally. The race radio was pretty bad, there was plenty of information up to the halfway point. Then it was like they forgot about us in the race, or they had run out of things to say after talking crap all morning. But there was some action in the race, the bunch just busted up as usual on the hill, but it never recovered. There were girls getting dropped all over the show, with the main bunch in two groups. Apparently there was quite a bit of action happening on the front, but we couldn’t see a thing. We passed the second bunch, and in it was a few good names, Gilmore, Gollan, and Nat Bates were the ones I could recognise. The first bunch had about 15-20 riders, of which there were quite a few attacks off the front. By this time, more than half the field had pulled out of the race, looks like they might need a little bit more training.

Up the hill for the third time, with the small group away.

Through the Aussie countryside, watch out for Kangaroos

With two laps to go, there was a few more attacks, Oneone was going with anything busting out. And finally it worked, with four of them up the road it was getting exciting. Not too long and there was two, Oneone and Sharon Laws, but with 15km to go, Sara Carrigan made her move to the front. Oneone got this info from her State team, she freaked and put the hammer down. The gap was 13 seconds to Sara, then about 25 secs to the first bunch. Alexis was in the second bunch, but was a bit fried like the rest of that bunch. They worked like hell to get away, and it worked. Sara didn’t stop though, and kept the pace on all the way to the finish. Victory for Oneone, her second Aussie title, but the best one I have seen. She was elated, so was the young girl in second place, with Sara coming in at third a 15 or 20 seconds behind them. What a blast, I was rapped for her, and of course pretty happy for myself. All the hard work seems like nothing in comparison, to the effort she had put into the race. And the bike didn’t miss a beat, of course. This being the third medal at these Nationals, and the second Gold for the team, bringing the wins for my work for the year to four, nice.

There she is, Oneone, Team Highroad's new Australian Champion

And a few more pics, somewhere here. Next up the Men’s Road Race.


Anonymous said...

A brief comment: I believe Sharon Laws is 32 or 33, and hence older than both Oenone and Sara. Good report though.

benny said...

Thanks for that, she looks a lot younger though, maybe it's the bike keeping her looking young. But think I was meaning to write that she was new to racing. She introduced herself to Oneone in the last lap. Funny thing was, she had a list of numbers and names down the whole of her forearm for riders she had to watch. As she knew almost none of the field, nice work.