Round Eight Elite Women’s Series
Another criterium, and another round of commitment clashes for the team. The final round of the Focus Elite Women’s Series coincided with stage three of the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under. Narelle, Lucy and Victoria were all unavailable. However, Madeleine and Jessica Lane had become available, so numbers on the line looked good. Interstate rider Jessica was an unknown quantity for the peloton, and poor Hannah Geelan of Port Adelaide had been given the job of marking her. It didn’t take the peloton long to discover that Jessica is the strongest criterium rider of our team, and the effort of marking her cost Hannah dearly. In true Hannah style however – her grimace was never all that far away from a big smile!
The course was the dreaded hotdog circuit, used during the City of Prospect Tourrific street party. Alana and Christina were working hard early, put under stress by the tight cornering, constant accelerations and significant heat. Madeleine was keeping her cool, keeping an eye on the thinning bunch and staying clear of the accumulating crashes and dropped riders. While Alana was a casualty of the accelerations, Christina was caught up behind a crash. What then ensued was nothing less than remarkable. The team who were there to spectate, looked on as Christina spent four resolute laps chasing. Pain faces aplenty, Christina would NOT quit! Both Christina and the crowd were so relieved to see her catch back on. Various members of the public who were watching were heard to comment on the titanic effort. The bunch had been whittled down to no more than nine riders, with Mercedes-Benz Adelaide Blackchrome team the only team to still have three riders contending for points. Madeleine positioned well to grab second place, with Jessica and Christina, having spent their energy positioning Madeleine for the sprint, also finished with a handy swag of points.
The team finished the series 3rd overall, a solid performance despite chronic rider shortages. Our best placed riders were Victoria in 4th place, and Madeleine in 5th place.
Round Seven Elite Women’s Series
Commitments interstate again saw the team depleted of key riders. Madeleine and Lucy had both travelled over to Buninyong for the Elite National Road Championships, while Victoria was able to remain behind for round seven as she was contesting neither the criterium nor the time trial. Being that she is of sound mind and doesn’t do crazy stuff like TT’s, Victoria was able to delay leaving for Sunday’s National Road Race until Friday.
We may have had limited numbers, but the team was able to make the definitive moves of the race. Victoria was an attacking rider from the beginning, and the field was clearly stretched. At the ¾ mark, after the field was pulled back following one of Victoria’s attacks, there was a counter attack by Jenny Macpherson. Narelle was on the job and easily went with the break. The break was strengthened by the inclusion of another three riders.
The commentary of the race over the loud speaker from CSA was actually quite humorous. It went along the lines of,
“Victoria is sitting on the front of the peloton, Mercedes-Benz Adelaide have a rider in the break so Victoria is not going to make any moves!”
Really! You don’t say!……..and 20 seconds later…….
“Victoria has launched a vicious attack off the front…….”
Yes, Victoria did technically chase a team member, but with good reason. The breakaway had reached a critical distance – any further away, and the likelihood of crossing the gap without bringing the entire peloton was diminishing quickly. The peloton has also just reached a headwind section, meaning that if Victoria could create a sudden gap, only a few riders were likely to be strong enough to cross with her. To minimize the number of riders within that small group, Victoria had also saved the attack for when some of those stronger riders were boxed in from pursuit. Perfect! Victoria crossed, taking only one SASI rider with her, the two riders working well together to catch the breakaway within a lap. With seven riders now in the breakaway, the success of the breakaway was assured.
The race finished in predictable fashion between the sprinters within the group, but happily Victoria and Narelle secured 3rd and 5th place respectively.