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By Cykel Events
What a day of racing as Round 1 of the inaugural Women’s Grand Prix got underway under blue skies, but blustery conditions at Macpherson’s Park, Melton.
The prologue got underway with two laps of the 700m circuit. The circuit was laid out in such a way that you can see the action from the riders at any point in time.
There were some quick times set early depending on the strength of the breeze at the time, but it was left to the top seed to set the time to beat.
Some ladies took advantage of their aero abilities, but the technical nature of the circuit meant that it would only really help in the home straight going straight into the wind.
There was a little ounce of expectation that we may see the 2:00:00 mark broken which would require the ITT to average over ~40kph. It looked like it would be done multiple times as riders came out of the blocks hard, with many taking the first lap around 1:05:00 from a standing start. In the end however, the elusive 2 minutes remains a target for races to come.
Number 1 seed, Nicole Whitburn (Liv/giant – LIV) clocked the fastest time in the Prologue, ending with 2:06:200 at an average of 39.9 kph. She did clock 1:02:723 on her second lap at 40.17kph.
Liz Hall, finished some 2 seconds down in 2nd place, with Tanya Matthewson (Total Rush – RSH) rounding out the top contenders.
The qualifying over, Division 1 was cut off at a time of 2:17:00.
The Division 2 race got underway with 17 riders. This was whittled down to 16 as Catherine McInerney (Southern Masters Cycling Club – SMC) took a spill on the banked corner during lap 7. Catherine has headed to hospital, and I am awaiting an update as to her health after taking a knock to the head.
The conditions started to take its toll early, with attack after attack attempted to spit the bunch. There was quite a major split early, however some hard work from the riders that were shed saw them get back on and stick it out.
The “Shane Kelly Cycle Room Intermediate Sprint came at the 25 minute mark, and saw Hannah Bush (Hypoactive – HYP) clearly take the 5 extra points and the a session with Shane Kelly, while Shantelle Maurer (3 points – Team RACE – RAC), Emma Pane (2 pts- Brunswick CC- BWK) and Hanna Vine (1pt- SKCC/Giant – SKG) rounded out the bonus points.
With the heat and wind taking it’s toll, a handful of riders were shed from the bunch. Suzy Barrett (Cyclespeed Vipers – VIP) called it an early day, while Sue Cox (BWK) and Rebecca Williamson (BWK) gritted their teeth and continued through to the end, albeit 3 laps and one lap behind the field, respectively.
The sprint finish was a drag race into the wind for Maurer and Bush, showing their strength, with Maurer taking the biscuits, and Tegan-jane Westendorf (Hawthorn Cycling Club GOLD – HGD) rounding out the top three. With thanks to The Sufferfest’s “Hell Hath No Fury”, Hannah Vine took forth place.
Division 1 set off not long after, and the tickets were on Nicole Whitburn – the quote “She hasn’t lost a bunch kick in 20 years” was repeated, and now we know why.
Whitburn was the only representative of the Liv/giant team after a late withdrawal of her teammate, and she proved that the team wasn’t needed today.
All up, the bunch stayed together, chasing down repeated attacks by Karen Hill (SKG).
With two laps before the Shane Kelly Cycle Room Intermediate Sprint, Individual Pursuit specialist Meg Marsh (HGD) tried her luck to go early, but to no avail. Marsh was pegged back after around half a lap at the front realising that the effort wasn’t going to get her the points.
The whistle for the sprint was blown, and the known sprinters all clambered over each other to give themselves the best opportunity.
However once again, the banked corner took its toll, and it sent Jodie Batchelor (Cycling INform – CIF) and Delphine Astier (RAC) flying off the top of the track and onto the grass. Delphine opted to withdraw from the race, or should I say she didn’t have much choice with her bike in an uncertain state.
For Jodie, she immediate sought medical attention, however after some care from firstly, Event Paramedics, and then Ambulance Victoria, Jodie was sent packing home in her car with a suspected torn muscle in her ribs, a lot of bruising around the same area, and possibly the worst corked thigh you could get. A crack in the bike and a bruised ego is about the extent of the long term damage… touch wood. We are sure to see Jodie again shortly…
With the race pushing on following the crash, it stayed together all the way to the end. SKCC/Giant continued with their attempted attacks, but again, Whitburn showed her dominance in the bunch sprints, taking the win from Kate Finegan (RAC) & Madeleine Pape (SKG), while Tanya Matthewson (RSH) claimed herself of “Hell Hath No Fury” from The Sufferfest.
As soon as the race ended, a massive gust of wind picked up all the tents located on course. It also created some confusion surrounding the final placings. Unfortunately, in this confusion also meant some incorrect placings were announced.
Our apologies to go Tanya Matthewson and Amy Bradley, whose places for 4th were incorrectly announced, which a special apology to Hawthorn CC GOLD and SKCC/Giant.
Some other incorrect places were also logged, meaning a promotion for many SKCC/Giant ladies caught up in the crash. This saw a change of positions, and points, meaning that SKCC/Giant has taken the Aggregate total points for today’s round of the Women’s Grand Prix by just 8 points.
Congratulations to all teams involved.
Special thanks go to sponsors Shane Kelly Cycle Room, The Sufferfest, Liv/giant, Macquarie, Coates Hire, My Laps and Cycle Cover.
Further thanks to Commissaire Doug Armstrong, Commentators Bec Domange and Rowena Scott (check out She Rides Cycling’s online magazine), and volunteers Pete Davidson, Colin Berry and Dave Rickards.
Finally, a big thanks to the Melton Cycling Club for providing us with the facilities – stay tuned for Melton at next year’s Women’s Grand Prix… you may need to bring a picnic dinner (hint…hint…!)
Entries are open for all remaining rounds of the Women’s Grand Prix. Please have your entries in early, and encourage your friends, club members and rivals to enter for a bigger event at Casey Fields on January 28th, 2012.
Event results & timings can be found here.