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ALBERT PARK, Australia (CT) – As Annette Edmondson (Wiggle High5) and Georgia Bronzini (Cylance Pro Cycling) came barrelling over the line there were no victory salutes, no excited shouts of ‘the winner is …’ from the commentators. Quite simply it was so tight no one could immediately be sure who was the winner of the Cadel Evans Road Race curtain raiser, Race Melbourne.
The race announcers at the 63.6 kilometre kermesse around Albert Park Lake furiously padded and the riders looked at each other until the announcement came. The bike throw from Edmondson as she crossed the line had secured her the victory and a big €8000 (AUD$12,270) cheque. It left two-time world champion Bronzini having to settle for second. Kendall Ryan (Team Tibco-SVB) was just a wheel back in third.
There were a number of attacks during the race and certainly a fight for the intermediate sprint points, with Barbara Guarischi (Team Virtu Cycling) and Rachel Babieri (Wiggle High5) taking it in turns to go first and second. But there were no moves that really looked dangerous. The Towards Zero Race Melbourne, always seemed headed for a bunch sprint at the end of the 12 laps of Melbourne’s Albert Park Formula 1 circuit.
“It was a strong, power, tail wind sprint so I was in the lead out train and then I had to jump a couple of wheels,” said Edmondson. “I was on the inside and I just I went for it … and I just had to hold on to the finish.”
It is Edmondson’s second win in as many weeks, marking an impressive recovery for the track rider who is aiming at a Commonwealth Games berth. Last year she had to cut her road season short after struggling with thyroid problems.
“I had a bit of a rough end to 2017 so I think that’s also partly a blessing in disguise, because it really motivated me to put down the road k’s and to train really hard and to really step back up into the track program,” Edmondson told reporters. “I’m really happy to finally feel good and to get a couple of wins.”
On the other hand it was a frustrating third time on the second step of the podium for Bronzini. The Italian rider who just moved over to Cylance Pro Cycling from Wiggle High5 this year finished second to Edmondson on Stage 1 of the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under, and second to Chloe Hosking (Ale-Cipollini) on Stage 4.
“It was pretty close this time,” said Bronzini.
“I tried to give back to my teammates … I’m just sorry to give a second place for the third time,” Bronzini told reporters. “Maybe I will be more lucky in the next days but I’m really happy about my form.”
Up next in Australia’s summer of racing is the 1.1 ranked women’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, known as the Deakin University Elite Women’s Road Race. The competition is bound to be fierce, as not only are there more UCI points on offer than ever before, but if an Australian rider manages to pull off the win they gain an automatic nomination to the Australian Commonwealth Games team.
The race starts and finishes in the coastal city of Geelong, just over an hour from Melbourne. The 113 kilometre course, which takes in views of the iconic Bells Beach, has enough hills to provide plenty of launching points for attacks. More so than ever this year with the introduction of the challenging Challambra Crescent climb. Last year Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) won in a sprint from a break of five. Both previous editions of the race were won with a solo run to the line, Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) in 2016 and Rachel Neylan (Movistar) in 2015.
The race, which starts at 11.20 am (AEDT), will be streamed live on 7plus and highlights will also be on Channel7 on Sunday January 28 from 10am. Of course you will also be able to find coverage on Ella CyclingTips.