BUNINYONG, Australia (CT) – Katrin Garfoot (Orica-Scott) took the victory at the elite women’s road race at the 2017 Mars Cycling Australia National Road Championships, pulling off the time trial/road race double and delivering a clean sweep of the elite women’s green and gold road jerseys for her team.
It was a one, two for Orica-Scott with the win decided by a sprint to the line with team mate and defending champion Amanda Spratt, after the pair spent that last couple of laps working together off the front.
“There was a lot of time trialling today, team time trialling,” Garfoot, who took third in 2014 and fourth last year, told reporters. “I’ve wanted to be here for a few years now and I’ve finally made it so it feels definitely great, and a double as well which was also a dream.”
Garfoot is the first rider to take the double since Carla Ryan in 2009.
Queenslander Lucy Kennedy took the final spot on the elite podium, after also swapping into time trial mode to stay away from the chase after being dropped by the Orica-Scott pair. Kennedy, who is signed with the High5 Dream Team this year, said she initially tried to catch the duo but near the end happily resigned herself to chasing her podium goal.
“A podium result for me was always going to be huge,” Kennedy told Ella CyclingTips. “The third step is a good progression from where I’ve been, but I’m still hungry for a lot more.”
The winner of the under 23 title was Alexandra Manly (Orica-Scott) who, like her older team mate, also pulled off the road race/time trial double.
How the race played out
The race started the way only an Aussie championships can, with a warning from the commissaire to watch out for kangaroos on the course, then the firing of the rifles by the red coats.
The group took off from the line, content to stick together on the first climb of Mount Buninyong Road but on the second lap the action started. Jenelle Crooks (Orica-Scott) jumped out of the peloton, with Ellen Skerritt (Queensland Academy of Sport) on her wheel and Shara Gillow ( FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) quickly accelerating to join the pair.
The trio of Queenslanders at one stage pulled out a lead of over four minutes, but in the fourth lap Garfoot put in an effort and took a group off the front and while the chase didn’t last long it took down the gap to around to closer to the two minute mark.
This meant that the during the sixth lap the lead bunch was close enough to be reeled in by a bunch of seven, including defending Spratt, Garfoot, Carlee Taylor (Ale-Cipollini Galassia), Shannon Malseed (Holden Women’s Racing), Ruth Corset (Rush Women’s Team) and Kennedy.
“That’s kind of fair”
By the start of the eighth lap Spratt had left her breakaway companions behind, taking off solo out the front and by the time the ninth lap had started Garfoot joined her up there too.
“I couldn’t have really dreamt up a better scenario, where we had two from the same team off the front,” Spratt told reporters. “There is no mucking around, its just we both commit to the plan, there is no one sitting on so we just gave everything for each other and we are really happy to pull it off.”
The pair worked together until near the end.
“I knew I had a reasonable chance so I was just content with her suggesting a sprint,” said Garfoot of her team mate who is known to have a decent kick in a sprint. “I thought oh well, ok, that’s kind of fair, or maybe not, but thanks,” she said with a laugh.
They then sprinted to the line to decide who would take the victory, putting Spratt in a similar two-up sprint scenario as she was last year with Corset, however this time she didn’t come out on top.
“My plan was to actually be on her wheel coming in with one kilometre to go and actually hit her, but of course she was too smart for that so she had me at the front,” said Garfoot. “I just had to go for it eventually. I couldn’t wait for her to get the jump on me so I tried to leave it as late as possible but still get the jump on her.”
Garfoot took the win, stopping past the finish line to receive a congratulatory hug from her team mate, Spratt, and then a little later from her mother-in-law, who was still shaking at the excitement of seeing her daughter-in-law take her second Australian title of the past few days.
The 102 kilometre road race is around a circuit which starts and finishes in Buninyong, about an hour and a half from Melbourne,. It is the final women’s event in the 2016 Australian Road Championships. Jessica Allen (Orica-Scott) took out the criterium on Wednesday with a solo run to the line and Garfoot won Thursday’s time trial with a staggering margin of nearly two minutes.
1. 17 Katrin GARFOOT (ORS) 2h57:50
2. 54 Amanda SPRATT (ORS) +0
3. 28 Lucy KENNEDY +1:27
4. 39 Shannon MALSEED (HWC) +3:00
5. 18 Shara GILLOW +3:00
6. 12 Jenelle CROOKS (ORS) +3:00
7. 10 Ruth CORSET (RSH) +3:00
8. 57 Carlee TAYLOR (ALE) +3:00
9. 11 Tiffany CROMWELL (LPR) +6:34
10. 63 Rebecca WIASAK (HFD) +6:34