Inside the breaks that lit up the 2017 women’s Australian Championships road race

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It was the break that reigned supreme again in the 2017 Mars Cycling Australia National Road Championships, with Katrin Garfoot taking the win in a two-up sprint with team mate and defending champion Amanda Spratt while Queenslander Lucy Kennedy came in solo to round out the podium. It’s a course that suits the break, and every break has its story. We hear the tales of what happened and what was going through their heads when they were off the front from three break participants.


Ellen Skerritt: First group off the front

It was only the second of ten laps when the first break of the day sailed off the front, which is earlier than we are used to seeing. Jenelle Crooks, who was racing for the number and strength heavy Orica-Scott squad, jumped from the group on the climb. Skerritt (Queensland Academy of Sport) and four-time Australian time trial champion Shara Gillow (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) followed.

Crooks may have started the break but it was Gillow and Skerritt who were working together to try and stretch the gap, which at one stage exceeded four minutes. Crooks was along for the ride given her team still had so many cards left to play behind.

Breakaway trio

“The move went on the second lap and it was Jenelle and then Shara came across, so I thought this is going to be good,” Skerritt told Ella CyclingTips. “Maybe just a little bit too early but I’m not a rider who can just jump so I thought if I go at my own pace this is the best position for me. We were away for 60 kilometres by ourselves and then joined by a lot of strong riders including Kat and Spratty and as soon as they joined us they just jumped and I didn’t have a moment to breathe, and then that was me.  My day was over,” said Skerritt.

For more see the following video interview:

Lucy Kennedy: Three to ten then split again

One of that bunch of strong riders that joined the three out the front was Kennedy, a 28 year old National Road Series rider who started reeling in the results in 2016, after switching from running to cycling just three years ago. The group swelled to about ten riders when the first group of three were caught, but didn’t stay that way for long.

“I kind of expected that it would be an early break. I wanted it to be a hard race, I wanted the pace to be on to whittle it down to just a few riders because I can’t sprint to save my life,” Kennedy told reporters.

The pace eased a bit after the first break of the day got away, but Garfoot kept getting on the front and pushing it up a little, said Kennedy, but then it became obvious that a big move was afoot.

“At one point, about halfway through, there was almost the whole Orica team on the front there driving the pace so it was like okay, I’ve got to get up there now because there is about to be fireworks and there was,” Kennedy told Ella CyclingTips.

“Orica really got going … and just really drove the pace until it was down to Amanda, Kat [Garfoot] and myself,” said Kennedy. “Amanda went off the front on her own and I was trying to chase her and obviously Kat was just sitting on my wheel and Amanda slowed down a little bit and Kat bridged across to her.”

“For a start I wouldn’t say I was racing for third, I was still trying to catch them. But yes, it became clear in the last couple of laps that I wasn’t going to catch them so that whole time I was on my own I was just in time trial mode. I never thought about waiting for the group behind me to try and chase down the other two, a podium result for me was always going to be huge.”

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Spratt, Garfoot and Kennedy.

Katrin Garfoot, the winning break

The final break, was the two team mates of Garfoot and Spratt who came to the line together to sprint for the win. Here is Garfoot’s take:

“Before the race we knew we needed to make the gap around five laps to go or four laps depending on what’s happening so that was all planned already. Amanda was holding me back quite a bit, wait till lap five, wait till lap five,” Garfoot told reporters.

They may have waited to take off, but once they did move, they made sure it stuck, with Spratt not only joining the break but then splitting away from it, with Garfoot and Kennedy close behind.

“She [Spratt] was out there alone for a bit but I had to wait for the climb to drop Lucy and if I wear her out before the climb then I have a chance,” Garfoot told reporters. “She is a good climber so I had to be tactically smart.”

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Garfoot said once the pair were together, they weren’t playing games. “Our goal was to go up the hill together and go over the hill together and ride together until the sprint.”

That decision came about via a chat on the road. “I knew I had a reasonable chance so I was just content with her suggesting a sprint. I thought oh well, okay, that’s kind of fair, or maybe not, but thanks,” Garfoot said with a laugh.

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Spratt congratulates Garfoot on her win

For the full report on the race follow this link.

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