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2004 Jayco Bay Cycling Classic
Victoria, Australia, January 7-11, 2004
Race 1 - Wednesday, January 7: Hastings
Victorian-NSW rivalry sidelined as women's win goes to ACT
By Karen Forman in Geelong
The competitive Victorians and New South Wales riders may have interchanged the lead of the 2004 Jayco Bay Classic women's race with every lap in their well publicised bids to beat each other, but in the end the line honours and leader's jersey went to a rider from a State that seemed to have been forgotten in the play-out of rivalry in the lead up to the event - Australia's Capital Territory - Oenone Wood. Similarly, the second placegetter, Hayley Rutherford, was from Western Australia.
While the women's race is not a teams event as is the elite men's, NSW riders were keen for one of their own to retain the winner's jersey they have possessed for the past two years. Favourite to win was last year's winner, Katherine Bates. Victoria, meanwhile, wanted to take the honours for itself, with 2003 sprint winner Katie Mactier leading the Victorian charge. But while a NSW rider, Olivia Gollan, picked up third place and a Victorian, Emma Rickards, fourth, it was the two forgotten states which staked a claim on the 2004 title.
As with the elite race that followed, the women's event was conducted in driving rain on steamy, slippery roads. Organisers shortened their planned course on the Hastings beach frontage by 200 metres to remove a treacherous bend through a car park, keeping rider safety in mind, leaving a tight 800 metre circuit that would have been hugely challenging even in fine weather.
"It was nerve wracking," Wood said at the finish, then laughed: "All this talk of the NSW-Victorian rivalry...they forget all about ACT!"
She said the win had been made possible by working with three other riders (Rutherford, Gollan and Rickards). "Olivia led out in the last lap and was in fourth wheel as we were going around the corner. "
The event had started a tad controversially, with the Victorian riders ordered by commissaires to remove their radio earpieces. "This is an individual race," they were told as they waited in the cold rain at the start.
Victorian Elizabeth Williams, Queenslander Bridget Evans, NSW rider Emma James and 2002 series winner Rochelle Gilmore set off at a hefty pace and immediately discovered the slippery road surface as they negotiated the first corner. Kerrie Baumgartner was the first unfortunate victim of the event, sliding out before the race had even settled into its rhythm.
For the next 30 minutes, it became a Victorian-NSW turn swapping exercise. Mactier was leading, then NSW rider Katie Brown. By the fourth lap a tight leading bunch had formed, comprising Gollan, Victorian Narelle Peterson, Gilmore, Christine Riakos (NSW) and Elizabeth Williams (Vic). Two laps later and Emma James (NSW), Peterson and Wood were away, chased by a bunch controlled by Rickards. The breakaway lasted another two laps and Mactier rode strongly at the front for several laps until the first intermediate sprint, which was won by Bates ahead of Jessica Ridder (NSW) and Gilmore - all NSW riders.
One rider crashed on the 10th lap with the bunch controlled by Rutherford. From then on it was either Mactier or one of the NSW riders on the front. Rutherford attacked on the 14th lap and achieved a small gap. She was soon joined by Riakos, Rickards, and Gollan and they put 25 seconds between themselves and the chasing group led by a powering Mactier. Gollan won the first intermediate sprint from Wood and Rutherford.
Wood and Rickards crashed in the back straight on the 20th lap, Rickards nursing a sore shoulder. With more than five laps to go they were allowed back in after a lap out. At five laps to go, Williams was leading the main bunch, working hard to hunt down the breakaway. At three to go the main field sprinted for minor placings, led by Bates, Mactier and Williams.
Rickards, despite having had two falls, gave her all in her bid to make contact with the leaders and moved away from the main group. Behind her, eight riders went down on a particularly slippery patch of road, including the two race favourites, Bates and Mactier..
Meanwhile in the breakaway, Gollan attacked a the bell, Rutherford on her wheel but it was Wood who moved up on the right hand side to go around Rutherford and take the leader's jersey. She said she was looking forward to the national road championships with a "good team" comprising Margaret Hemsley, Jessy McLean, and Alison Wright.
"My goal is to try to make Olympic selection, so I will be concentrating on the Geelong World Cup," she said. "I am using this week to get good race form."
Images by Shane Goss/www.licoricegallery.com
1 Oenone Wood 12 2 Hayley Rutherford 10 3 Olivia Gollan 8 4 Emma Rickards 7 5 Kate Nichols 6 6 Rochelle Gilmore 5 7 Elizabeth Williams 3 8 Katherine Bates 2 9 Katherine Bates 2 10 Jessica Ridder 1 Sprint (15 minutes) 1 Katherine Bates 2 Jessica Ridder 3 Rochelle Gilmore Sprint (30 minutes) 1 Olivia Gollan 2 Oenone Wood 3 Hayley Rutherford Sprint aggregate 1 Olivia Gollan 3 2 Katherine Bates 3 3 Oenone Wood 2 4 Jessica Ridder 2 5 Hayley Rutherford 1 6 Rochelle Gilmore 1