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2004 Jayco Bay Cycling Classic
Victoria, Australia, January 7-11, 2004
Race 4 - Saturday, January 10: Geelong - Botanic Gardens
Gilmore wins stage, creates a three-way battle for series
Rutherford and Wood on equal points
By Karen Forman in Geelong
After not appearing in the top 10 all week, former Jayco Bay Classic winner Rochelle Gilmore won the fourth stage of the 2004 criterium series at the Geelong Botanical Gardens tonight and is now within reach of another series win. The NSW rider is just four points behind joint leaders Hayley Rutherford and Oenone Woods and with 12 points on offer for a win, another effort like tonight's might just see her provide NSW with its third successive win.
Rutherford, from Western Australia but riding for the Victorians and Wood, from the ACT, won't be giving up their leads easily. Rutherford will wear the leader's jersey she has held the past three days on count back, but both riders go into the fifth and final race on equal points (31). With Rutherford on 27, their nearest rival is NSW rider Emma James, on 23.
Meanwhile, Kate Bates of NSW still leads the sprint aggregate with 17 points ahead of teammate Olivia Gollan on 12.
A delighted and somewhat surprised Gilmore gave teammate Nat Bates a pat on the back for controlling the pace the whole time. "She did a terrific job for NSW as did Alexis, who has been my training partner for the past few months," she said. "I wasn't expecting to do so well. I came into the series heavy from hard training and I wasn't here to win. The first two days I felt so heavy; the first day was really a struggle and the second I didn't finish with the main bunch, which was hard for my head."
How it unfolded
If tonight's race is any indication of what is to come tomorrow night, then the Docklands event will be hotly contested in the final laps. The group rode as a bunch for much of the Geelong event, with few attacks but a good speed.
Naomi Williams (WA), Gilmore, Alison Wright (ACT), Katie Mactier (Vic), Wood and Bates were pushing the bunch to its limits in the fourth lap. Bates took the first intermediate sprint ahead of Gollan, Wright and Mactier. A lap later, Frances Newstead of Great Britain made the first attack of the race and built a 12 second gap, with Queenslander Bridget Evans and Belinda Goss of Tasmania chasing hard.
Wright was on the front of the chasing bunch, which managed to reel in the breakaways by the 13th lap. Helen Kelly of Victoria then led the next attack off the front, marked by Natalie Bates of NSW. Former junior world champion pursuiter Narelle Peterson and Mactier, both from Victoria, got onto the front of the chase group and hunted them down.
Riders from all the states were getting involved in the action. Natalie Bates and Alexis Rhodes (South Australia) attacked into the second intermediate sprint and Rhodes won it. The pair then formed a break with Gilmore, Sara Symington of Great Britain and Kelly with 18 laps to go.
Bates was doing much of the work at the front of the new lead group and it soon had a 30 second lead. Rutherford's team of NSW riders got itself onto the front of the main bunch and started to work for her. With three to go the gap was out to a minute and with two to go, Bates was working for Gilmore, setting up the sprint, with Kelly on her wheel.
Christine Riakos of NSW led the chasing bunch into the sprint and Rutherford was marking Wood's wheel. In the finish it was Gilmore, Rhodes and Symington. Rutherford finished eighth and Wood seventh, putting them equal on the points aggregate going into tomorrow's race.
Gilmore said she was looking for numbers in the break and when she saw none of her teammates were there, she just had to get across. "I was confident Nat would cover the breaks; I was one of the last to get across and she controlled the pace really well.
"Then in the back straight Alexis took a big attack on the right and it was a bit hard for me to go from the left to right to get onto her wheel. She got me around the last corner and then I took over from there."
Rutherford, who got left behind when the breakaway went, said she was happy with the situation. "I was happy for the break to go. I only needed to keep an eye on Oenone. Now we are equal going into the last race."
She said both Wood and Rutherford could get up in the last stage and Gilmore has got a good sprint. "I am not really feeling confident," he admitted. "They are both good sprinters. Everyone thought it would be a two horse race between me and Oenone but now Rochelle is there too."
Images by Shane Goss/www.licoricegallery.com
1 Rochelle Gilmore (Bankstown Sports CC) 2 Alexis Rhodes (Norwood C.C.) 3 Sara Symington (Great Britain National Team) 4 Helen Kelly (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 5 Natalie Bates (Parramatta CC) 6 Naomi Williams (Northern Districts CC) 7 Oenone Wood (Canberra Cycling Club) 8 Hayley Rutherford (Northern Districts) 9 Alison Wright (Canberra Cycling Club) 10 Kate Nichols (St George CC) Sprints Sprint 1 1 Katherine Bates (Parramatta CC) 2 Olivia Gollan (Kooragang Open CC) 3 Alison Wright (Canberra Cycling Club) Sprint 2 1 Alexis Rhodes (Norwood C.C.) 2 Natalie Bates (Parramatta CC) 3 Katherine Bates (Parramatta CC) Overall classification after race 4 1 Hayley Rutherford (Northern Districts) 31 pts 2 Oenone Wood (Canberra Cycling Club) 31 3 Rochelle Gilmore (Bankstown Sports CC) 27 4 Emma James (Bicisport) 18 5 Alison Wright (Canberra Cycling Club) 18 6 Olivia Gollan (Kooragang Open CC) 15 7 Katherine Bates (Parramatta CC) 12 8 Elizabeth Williams (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 11 9 Sara Symington (Great Britain National Team) 8 Sprint classification 1 Katherine Bates (Parramatta CC) 17 pts 2 Olivia Gollan (Kooragang Open CC) 12 3 Oenone Wood (Canberra Cycling Club) 4 4 Jessica Ridder (Bathurst CC) 4