BUNINYONG, Australia (CT) – Amanda Spratt (Orica-AIS) outsprinted breakaway companion Ruth Corset (Rush Women’s Team) to win the road race of the 2016 Mars Cycling Australia National Road Championships, taking her second national title and bringing the green and gold stripes of the national jersey back to Orica-AIS.
In fact Orica-AIS took three of the top four spots, with Spratt carrying the tactical advantage into the sprint with former winner Corset because team mates Rachel Neylan and Katrin Garfoot were closing in. Neylan took third and Garfoot, who won the time trial on Thursday, fourth.
It was four laps into the 10-lap race that the action started, with Sarah Roy (Orica-AIS) and Louisa Lobigs (Holden Women’s Cycling Team) stretching out a gap of over 2 minutes and 40 seconds by halfway through the race.
“Having Sarah Roy out the front there in that early break was great for us, it was a great situation and we could sort of not panic and sit in there and relax,” said Spratt, who first took the win in the road race at the Australian Road Championships in 2012.
“Getting across to Sarah was great. She was done, she was cramping but she just said ‘what can I do, what do I do’. She just gave me every last bit of energy she had and then I knew that it was up to me to finish it off,” said Spratt.
Running out of time
With the group of five split and time running out there was plenty of action behind the lead pair as riders scrambled to get up to the front of the field, but as the finish line approached it was Neylan and Garfoot who were the closest.
“Coming into the sprint she (Spratt) had her teammates behind so I had no choice but to lead her out,” Corset, who won the race in 2010, told Ella CyclingTips. “I knew that if I had of waited they would have caught us.”
The way the team game paid off in spades for Orica-AIS this year was in stark contrast to 2015, when the only Australian registered UCI women’s team saw the national title pass to Peta Mullens (Wiggle High5) and away from Orica-AIS for the first time since its inception.
The title for the Under 23 women, who race with the elite women, was won by Jenelle Crooks (Specialized Women’s Racing Team) who came in tenth overall. Jessica Mundy (High5 Dream Team) and Ellen Skerritt (Ale Cipollini) took second and third in the category and 11th and 12th overall. This is the first year the Under 23 winner will also receive a jersey.
From Saturday to Sunday
The 102 kilometre road race around a circuit which starts and finishes in Buninyong, about an hour and a half from Melbourne, is the final women’s event in the 2016 Australian Road Championships. NRS rider and accountant Sophie Mackay (Specialized Women’s Racing) took out the criterium on Wednesday and Garfoot won Thursday’s time trial.
The women’s race has traditionally been run on the Saturday, but this year the shift was made to Sunday morning, the same day as the elite men’s, with part of the benefit being increased television coverage. For the first time Australian viewers got to watch the last laps of the women’s race ‘as-live’ on Gem or Fox Sports 3 (Foxtel channel 503).
“I don’t think it really affected the race at all,” said Spratt of the shift to the earlier time. “It is an earlier start for us … but the flip side is that we get the same crowds as the men, we have got the TV time.”
“It’s a trade-off, we are more than happy,” said Spratt.
There was another benefit of the morning time slot, the women missed the heat that hit the elite men’s race, with temperatures touching 34°C in the afternoon.
|1.||19||Amanda SPRATT (NSW)||2h56:45|
|2.||8||Ruth CORSET (QLD)||+0|
|3.||2||Rachel NEYLAN (NSW)||+2|
|4.||12||Katrin GARFOOT (QLD)||+2|
|5.||9||Lauren KITCHEN (NSW)||+2|
|6.||15||Chloe HOSKING (ACT)||+35|
|7.||6||Lizzie WILLIAMS (VIC)||+35|
|8.||10||Tiffany CROMWELL (SA)||+35|
|9.||1||Peta MULLENS (VIC)||+35|
|10.||103||Jenelle CROOKS (QLD)||W23||+35|
For the full list click through to the Cycling Australia results page here.