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BALLARAT, Australia (CT) – Jessica Allen (Orica-Scott) took out the win in the elite women’s criterium at the 2017 Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships with a solo charge to the line.
Allen had such a clear gap that by the second last lap there was no doubt she would deliver the first win of the Australian Road Championship’s for her new team, Orica-Scott and her second win in two days, as yesterday she took the final stage of the Michelton Bay Cycling Classic.
The battle was then just for the lower steps of the podium. Kendelle Hodges (Colavita Bianchi) just edged out Shannon Malseed (Holden Women’s Cycling Team). The 18-year-old Nicola MacDonald (Subaru Nswis NKC) was the first under 23 rider across the line in eleventh place.
There were a number of early breaks, one that included former Australian road champion Peta Mullens (Hagens Berman-Supermint), but the peloton wasn’t prepared to let any of them stick.
It wasn’t until past the halfway mark that one got some real traction. It was made up of defending champion Sophie Mackay (Specialized Women’s Racing), Allen, Hodges, Jenelle Crooks (Orica-Scott) and Emily Roper. When the race was about two-thirds through, Allen started putting in the effort to get away alone.
“I was actually a bit concerned about how I’d be feeling today,” said the rider from Perth. “It’s been a big three days at Bay Crits but when Jenelle and I were in that break of about five I knew we had to be aggressive, we were with three sprinters, and … that is not our forte so we had to attack.”
“She attacked, I attacked, I knew one of us had to get away. I was lucky enough for it to be me,” Allen told reporters. “I felt like I had really good legs out there and I just time-trialled all the way to the end.”
The group sprint
The battle was still firing behind her though as the pack had charged up toward the riders Allen initially escaped with. A determined Hodges wasn’t going to let her earlier aggression out the front in the break be an excuse not to give everything at the end.
“We were coming into the sprint and Mullens was ahead of me in the last 100 and Shannon was coming up from my right and I thought I’m not settling for fourth,” Hodges told Ella CyclingTips.
“I’ve always been an aggressive rider and I think you can’t really keep in the back of your mind the sprint, because you always find a little bit extra when you see the finish line,” Hodges said.
The 33 kilometre women’s criterium is run on a tight hotdog circuit in the middle of Ballarat. The crit is the opening race in the Australian Road National Championships, with the time trial on Thursday and the women’s road race on Sunday morning.
|1.||1||Jessica ALLEN (ORS)||49:29|
|2.||24||Kendelle HODGES (CVB)||+41|
|3.||39||Shannon MALSEED (HWC)||+41|
|4.||43||Peta MULLENS (HBS)||+41|
|5.||37||Sophie MACKAY (SPW)||+41|
|6.||12||Jenelle CROOKS (ORS)||+41|
|7.||54||Amanda SPRATT (ORS)||+43|
|8.||51||Sarah ROY (ORS)||+43|
|9.||5||Lucy BECHTEL (SPW)||+44|