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7th Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under - 2.HC
Australia, January 18-23, 2005
Race 3 - January 22: Snapper Point (Aldinga Beach) Criterium, 30 mins + 3 laps
Natalie Bates takes her win as Macpherson grabs the overall prize
By Gerard Knapp in Aldinga Beach
It was, as one informed observer remarked, very good time trial practice for Australian representative rider Natalie Bates (NSW Institute of Sport), as she took off with over half the race distance remaining and stayed away to win the third and final round of The Advertiser women's criterium series, held in conjunction with the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under.
Bates was chased by no less a rider than 2004 Olympic Games road race gold medallist Sara Carrigan (Queensland) and emerging star Alexis Rhodes (South Australia), with Victoria's Jenny Macpherson also joining the fray as the field was strung out along the foreshore of Aldinga Beach in South Australia.
Macpherson was the other big winner on the day as she also took out the series prize in a points tie with Rochelle Gilmore. In the case of a points tie it was the finishing positions in the final round that determined the victor, with Macpherson's second place today in Aldinga, several seconds behind Bates, that secured her the overall win.
Carrigan crossed in third with Rhodes fourth, while Gilmore led home the remainder of the bunch in fifth place, just ahead of Katherine Bates (NSWIS), sister of Natalie and winner of the second round of the Criterium series. "I thought it was a bit early to go," today's winner said of her solo effort. But it was a popular victory - in much the same fashion as fellow NSW rider Matt White's victory in stage 4 of the JCTDU - where a dedicated and committed team rider was able to enjoy a rare victory.
"I haven't had a race win like this for a while, so it's fantastic," Bates said. "The plan was to hopefully get one of us up there as the points were so close and if it came down to a sprint it would be much harder to control."
The "us" Bates referred to was an uncommon alliance of riders from rival states. The team strategy was to ride aggressively and put Gilmore, the leader on points and arguably the fastest sprinter in the field, under constant pressure. The Bates sisters are staying with Rhodes while in South Australia, so they decided to work together and upset what could otherwise have been a 'two-state' race.
However, they controlled it from the outset as Rhodes kicked off the house-mates' trifecta by taking out the first round of the series in Adelaide. "If we broke into straight state alliances it would have effectively closed it (the series) down a bit, as there were so many strong riders from New South Wales and Queensland," she said. A side-effect of this strategy was that the NSW sprinter, Gilmore, had to contend with a combine of rather strong riders.
While both of the Bates sisters showed their speed, class and tactics in the series - with Katherine covering the field as her sister broke away - the surprise packet was Macpherson, who showed her strength and speed to not only bridge up to Carrigan and Rhodes, but then drop them and take off in solo pursuit of Bates.
"With five minutes left Emma (Rickards) said 'we've got to catch this', so I went out and tried to catch them. They (Carrigan and Rhodes) were yelling at me to work harder and I thought 'bugger that, I'm going to go myself'," Macpherson said after the race.
The series victory was another strong performance by this emerging Victorian, who also took out second overall in the women's Bay Classic Criterium series earlier this month.
How in unfolded
The race was held on a section of the JCTDU's stage 5 parcours in fine conditions, with a stiff sea-breeze blowing across the course and posing a strong headwind for half of the short 600 metre criterium circuit.
The field set off at 11.30am in a '30 minutes plus two laps' race format. The organisers took advantage of the crowds that had gathered along the beach to watch the men's race to provide the women's series with a larger-than-usual crowd. As soon as the men's field barreled through the town in the first of three times on their stage, organizers quickly changed the barriers around and the women rolled out on a separate 700-metre criterium circuit.
The start-finish line for the women also served as the marker for two intermediate sprints in stage 5 of the men's race, so the large crowd that had assembled in the sun was able to witness more than just a passing blurred glimpse of the peloton. Adding to the pizzazz was the presence of none other than Jean-Marie Leblanc, race director of the Tour de France, who was on hand to watch the race and present the winners with their jerseys and flowers.
First to attack the field was Louise Yaxley (TIS/Cyclingnews) who was quickly brought back, and then newly crowned Australian national road champion Lorian Graham also went solo. But Graham is now a marked rider and the combine chased her down. This strung out the field and riders were going out the back on successive laps. When Graham was finally caught, it was the perfect opportunity for Natalie Bates to take off.
The classy NSW rider went into the drops and never looked back, peeling off lap after lap in a superb display of solo riding. The first attempt to reel her in was made by Emma James, but she drifted back into the field.
It was then the turn of the Athens 2004 road race victor, Sara Carrigan, to make a bid to close down the move but she immediately had Rhodes for company. Nonetheless, Carrigan did begin to make in-roads and it was then that the Victorians made their counter-move.
Emma Rickards went into the final round tied on points with Gilmore but it was her teammate, Jenny Macpherson, who set off after the trio.
The 27 year-old Victorian showed fine pursuiting skill to bridge up to Carrigan and Rhodes and then leave them behind as she began to eat away at Bates' lead, but it was too late and Bates could afford to sit up and salute the crowd for a deserved solo victory.
It was, perhaps, a sign of things to come in Europe this year, as both Bates sisters and Carrigan will be racing in Holland for the same professional team, Ton van Bemmelen, with none other than Leontien van Moorsel working in a management role.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Rachel Burke/www.maximumattack.biz
Images by Gerard Knapp/Cyclingnews.com
Images by CJ Farquharson
1 Natalie Bates (NSW) Ton Van Bemmelen/AA Drink 40 pts 2 Jenny Macpherson (Vic) 38 3 Sara Carrigan (Qld) 36 4 Alexis Rhodes (SA) 34 5 Rochelle Gilmore (NSW) Safi-Pasta Zara-Manhattan 32 6 Katherine Bates (NSW) Ton Van Bemmelen/AA Drink 30 7 Katie Brown (NSW) 28 8 Kate Nichols (NSW) 26 9 Jessie Mclean (ACT) 24 10 Amanda Spratt (NSW) 22 11 Emma Rickards (Vic) 20 12 Lorian Graham (Qld) 18 13 Claire Baxter (Vic) 16 14 Sally Cowman (Qld) 14 15 Kirsty Bortolin 12 16 Emma James (NSW) Randwick Botany/FRF Couriers 10 17 Emma Mackie 8 18 Bridget Evans (Qld) 6 19 Louise Yaxley (Tas) TIS/Cyclingnews.com 4 20 Hannah Banks (Qld) 2 21 Jenny Manefield (NSW) 22 Leeanne Mandersen 23 Lisa Payne 24 Candice Sullivan (Qld) DNF Nadia Auletta DNF Bianca Rogers DNF Rachel Sherborne DNF Claire Stevens DNF Genna Crean DNF Melinda Wood Final classification 1 Jenny Macpherson (Vic) 102 pts 2 Rochelle Gilmore (NSW) Safi-Pasta Zara-Manhattan 102 3 Alexis Rhodes (SA) 98 4 Katherine Bates (NSW) Ton Van Bemmelen/AA Drink 96 5 Kate Nichols (NSW) 94 6 Emma Rickards (Vic) 90 7 Katie Brown (NSW) 74 8 Natalie Bates (NSW) Ton Van Bemmelen/AA Drink 66 9 Claire Baxter (Vic) 62 10 Amanda Spratt (NSW) 60 11 Sara Carrigan (Qld) 58 12 Lorian Graham (Qld) 50 13 Bridget Evans (Qld) 44 14 Emma James (NSW) Randwick Botany/FRF Couriers 42 15 Sally Cowman (Qld) 34 16 Candice Sullivan (Qld) 34 17 Kirsty Bortolin 32 18 Bianca Rogers 32 19 Jessie Mclean (ACT) 28 20 Emma Mackie 24 21 Hannah Banks (Qld) 20 22 Rachel Sherborne 10 23 Louise Yaxley (Tas) TIS/Cyclingnews.com 4 24 Leeanne Mandersen 2 25 Melinda Wood 2