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South Bank Grand Prix / Australian criterium Championships- CN

Brisbane, Queensland, December 2, 2007

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Race 2: Elite women National criterium Championships

Tasmania's Comeback Queen Wins National Title

By John Michael Flynn in Brisbane, Australia

Tasmanian come back girl Kirsty Broun
Photo ©: John Flynn
(Click for larger image)

Tasmanian Kirsty Broun wrote another chapter in one of Australian cycling's more bizarre comebacks today to claim her first National Criterium Championship at age 28.

A National Champion on the track at the age of nineteen, Broun ventured into cycling obscurity following a long battle with glandular fever, but re-emerged at last year's Tasmanian Track Carnivals where she performed impressively.

The lawyer, who now resides at Bundaberg in Queensland but remains a devout Tasmanian, avoided a crash-fest which ultimately ended the hopes of the leading contenders including defending champion Alexis Rhodes.

Broun formed one half of a two rider breakaway, escaping up the road with Queenslander Carly Hibberd shortly before the race defining crash.

"It was quite good because Carly took off and I yelled out to the girls, come on lets chase her down and they didn't kind of jump on my wheel," Broun said.

"When I caught Carly, I said let's work together and see how we go."

Race Mishap

The race was marred by several major crashes, the worst coming at the ten minute mark when defending champion Alexis Rhodes suffered a mishap.

Riding at the front of the lead group, the South Australian was negotiating the first corner of the course when her front wheel slid away in the wet conditions. What followed was a domino effect as, one after another, riders hit the deck.

Noosa Criterium winner Rochelle Gilmore managed to avoid the race carnage, but had a perfect view of events as they unfolded.

"I didn't go down myself, I definitely knew it was happening 100 per cent as I was on her (Rhodes) wheel," the eventual third-place getter said.

Another tumble.
Photo ©: John Flynn
(Click for larger image)

"She (Rhodes) entered that corner on the inside entry to the corner, you don't enter on the inside, you go wide and then you come in.

"I knew she was going to crash because she was going way too fast."

In the chaotic moments that followed, the main bunch lost sight of the bigger picture issue - a breakaway group of two riders, which was still up the road.

Ultimately, the oversight cost Gilmore any chance of winning the race in a sprint finish. Even with the help of Sky-Lee Armstrong pulling turns in the final laps, the opportunity was lost - Gilmore forced to settle for third.

"All the girls back in the bunch didn't know that those two girls were still away," Gilmore said.

"When the big crash happened and a big group re-entered the race, we thought we'd caught the two that had been away.

"I think in the back of my head I knew there was two away."

Unable to match Broun in the final two-up sprint, Queensland's Carly Hibberd was overjoyed with her second placing in the National Championship race.

"I'm really happy, my coach Vince McLachlan just told me I'm not a crit rider so just go out there and enjoy myself," Hibberd said.

"We're really lucky, apparently the girls chased and just after that there was a big accident and that helped establish the gap.

"I think it was the best place to be on the course."


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by John Flynn/

Images by Tim Francis


1 Kirsty Broun
2 Carly Hibberd
3 Rochelle Gilmore