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Jayco Bay Cycling Classic - NE
Geelong, Australia, January 4-8, 2006
Stage 4 - January 7: Geelong Botanic Gardens
McEwen at last
Carrigan shines in women's race
By Mal Sawford in Geelong Botanic Gardens
Both the men's and women's races saw wins taken by pairs of riders who attacked very early, with Sara Carrigan (Pitcher Partners) besting Sally Cowman (Werribee Mansion Hotel), and defending series champion Robbie McEwen (Volvo Team T5) too strong for Will Walker (Jayco VIS).
While the women's early break played into the hands of overnight leader Katie Mactier (Jayco VIS), it was a different story as far as men's leader Hilton Clarke was concerned. Clarke goes into the final race with his lead over Greg Henderson (Drapac-Porsche Development Team) reduced to a single point, and McEwen himself has also rocketed into contention.
The circuit through the Botanic Gardens is another hilly one, with two technical downhill corners and a back straight surface badly in need of a heavy roller and a fresh coat of hot mix. Similarly to the Portarlington circuit, it is another very selective course. In 2005, only 12 riders survived to complete the full distance in the men's race.
Alexis Rhodes, the newly crowned Australian Champion, was unable to take to the start line, after her heroics of the previous night saw her wake with back pain. Her promise to wear the champion's jersey training also didn't eventuate, but she wore it proudly to greet the finishers of Amy's Ride and signed plenty of autographs for fans of all ages.
Armed with the knowledge that defending Champion Oenone Wood (Mercure Hotel), Olympic Gold Medalist Sara Carrigan (Pitcher Partners), Olivia Gollan (Werribee Mansion Hotel) and Kate Nichols had all completed a fast paced 120 kilometres with the lead group on Amy's Ride, the Jayco VIS team took the race out hard hoping to catch their key competitors with tired legs.
Mactier forced the pace herself a number of times in the opening laps, but Wood was always quickly on her wheel. A counter attack from Carrigan 13 minutes in saw her open a huge gap within half a lap: Carrigan had flown into Melbourne specifically for Amy's Ride and missed the opening two stages, and was no threat to Mactier's overall lead.
Carrigan was 10 seconds clear at the first intermediate sprint, with Jo Kiesanowski (Pitcher Partners) taking the second place sprint from teammate Kate Bates to break her tie with Mactier in the sprint competition. Cowman shot out of the bunch shortly after the sprint, and after a two lap time trial joined Carrigan in the lead.
The pair then shared the pace making evenly, and by the second sprint, which coincided with the call of 'ten to go', were 15 seconds clear. The margin continued to grow, touching 30 seconds at three to go, before Wood launched an unsuccessful counter attack.
Kate Bates and Nichols rode clear on the climb to the finish on the penultimate lap, while ahead Carrigan had little trouble outsprinting Cowman for the win, saying after the race that, "Sally worked really hard to get across, and then we worked really well together, but I guess I had too much power at the finish." Bates and Nichols held on for third and fourth places, before Mactier led the bunch over the line with another convincing sprint.
Wood finished out of the points, giving Mactier a virtually unbeatable 12 point lead going into the final race. Finishing just behind proven stars Mactier, Hayley Brown (Pitcher Partners) and Belinda Goss (Volvo Team T5) in the bunch sprint was the youngest rider in the field, 16 year old Victorian Lisa Friend (Siemens), who has impressed many observers in her first appearance in the elite ranks, and will certainly be a rider to watch in years to come.
Carrigan felt that contrary to the VIS view that the 120km morning ride would deaden riders' legs; the fast ride through the rolling hills of the Bellarine Peninsula had been beneficial. "We were all sitting in there, spinning our legs out. It was actually really good to roll our legs out after last night, because it was such a power race where you're constantly on the brakes then out of the saddle," she said. Despite her success today, Carrigan has no plans to adopt a similar warm up before the Australian Championship Road Race or Time Trial next week!
On the team standings, Carrigan's Pitcher Partners team moved well clear of the Jayco VIS girls after placing all four starters in the top ten, with Jayco's other regular point scorer Jenny Macpherson unlucky to puncture just after the pits had been closed in accordance with criterium regulations, and unable to contest the finish.
Prior to themen's race, Robbie McEwen told a TV interviewer he had two chances to repeat his 2005 win on the circuit. The first was to finish with the front group and rely on his well proven sprinting abilities, while the second and harder option was to join a break of other riders out of contention for the series win and hope that the leaders' teams would be happy to see the big points taken.
Will Walker (Jayco VIS) first burst into prominence in 2003 as a 17 year old, with a stage win on the Botanic Gardens after a long break, and he obviously hoped to repeat the result as he jumped away from the bunch at the start of only the third lap. At the end of the lap he had pulled five seconds clear of the bunch, and had McEwen hot on his heels.
Once the pair was together, the gap began to steadily extend and grew to 20 seconds. A succession of riders tried to cross the chasm alone without success, including Marcus Wettenhall (Mercure Hotel – Geelong Cycling Club), Simon Gerrans (Pitcher Partners) and Werribee Mansion Hotel team mates Dean Windsor and Shaun Higgerson, but with Walker doing the lions share of the pace making, the two leaders continued to pull away.
Overnight sprint leader Trent Wilson (Grand Mercure) seemed happy to see the solo chasers go, as it meant his hold on the Green Jersey was safe. When the judges began the countdown for the final ten laps, the bunch was over 30 seconds in arrears, before a chase group from the bunch finally broke clear. Chris Jongewaard (McKnight's Retravision/Fisher & Paykel), Windsor and 2005 Australian Criterium Champion David McPartland (Jayco VIS) made some headway on the two leaders, eventually reducing the margin to 11 seconds by the finish.
Over the final two laps, Walker did his best to spring another upset, attacking his more fancied companion without success, and then forcing McEwen to set the pace for the final lap and a half. A patient McEwen backed off the pace, forcing the youngster to start the final sprint as the three chasers began to make a lot of ground. In the end, the winning margin was two lengths, prompting Walker to announce, "I'm going to have to do some sprint training next year so hopefully I can get a bit closer. At least I didn't get beaten by fifty metres like I thought I would!"
Henderson was too fast for Clarke in the race for sixth place points, with only a desperate bike throw getting the yellow jersey home in front of Simon Gerrans – and keeping Clarke one point clear of his closest rival.
McEwen was clearly impressed by Walker's ride, showering him with congratulations as the pair completed their warm down lap – and following with a champagne shower on the podium! "He's going to go a long way in the sport," he told the crowd, and confirmed his admiration during post race interviews. "Willy was a huge part of that win because we really had to cooperate together and just give it absolutely everything we had. I thought they were just going to leave us dangle out there and reel us in with a couple of laps to go and it was all going to be for nothing, but we were able to hang on. In a way I would have liked to see Willy win, but I can't lose to him in a sprint! It was a very, very hard ride and it was fifty-fifty all the way so I'm happy to get a win after four days in the Bay Crits – a bit later than usual, but better late than never!
Less than 25 of the mammoth start list greeted the judges on the final lap, with the typical fast start seeing riders begin to lose contact on the opening lap. Day three winner Angus Morton, Andy Naylor (Bianchi) and Fabio Calabria all tried to escape the diminishing peloton in the closing stages without success, with the result decided by a bunch sprint.
Julian Dutton (BikeNOW) took the win with a strong sprint ahead of Calabria, while Evan Oliphant (Team UNO) extended his series lead with a third place after surviving a spectacular crash onto the top rail of the barriers without serious injury in the final ten minutes of the race.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Shane Goss/www.licoricegallery.com
Images by Mal Sawford/Cyclingnews.com
Images by Evan Jeffrey
Elite Men 1 Robbie McEwen (Qld) Volvo Team T5 12 pts 2 Will Walker (Vic) Jayco VIS 10 3 Chris Jongewaard (SA) McKnight's Retravision/Fisher Paykel 8 4 Dean Windsor (Vic) Werribee Mansion Hotel-NSWIS 7 5 David McPartland (Vic) Jayco VIS 6 6 Greg Henderson (NZl) Drapac-Porsche Cycling Team 5 7 Hilton Clarke (Vic) Portfolio Partners 4 8 Simon Gerrans (Vic) Pitcher Partners 3 9 Simon Clarke (Vic) Jayco VIS 2 10 Mitchell Docker (Vic) Drapac-Porsche Cycling Team 1 Sprint 1 1 Robbie McEwen (Qld) Volvo Team T5 2 Will Walker (Vic) Jayco VIS 3 Dean Windsor (Vic) Werribee Mansion Hotel-NSWIS Sprint 2 1 Will Walker (Vic) Jayco VIS 2 Robbie McEwen (Qld) Volvo Team T5 3 Shaun Higgerson (NSW) Werribee Mansion Hotel-NSWIS Sprint 3 1 Will Walker (Vic) Jayco VIS 2 Robbie McEwen (Qld) Volvo Team T5 3 Dean Windsor (Vic) Werribee Mansion Hotel-NSWIS Elite Women 1 Sara Carrigan (Qld) Pitcher Partners 12 pts 2 Sally Cowman (Qld) Werribee Mansion Hotel / NSWIS 10 3 Kate Bates (NSW) Pitcher Partners 8 4 Kate Nichols (NSW) 7 5 Katie Mactier (Vic) Jayco VIS 6 6 Hayley Brown (WA) Pitcher Partners 5 7 Belinda Goss (Tas) 4 8 Lisa Friend (Vic) Siemens 3 9 Jo Kiesonowski (NZl) Pitcher Partners 2 10 Tiffany Cromwell 1 Sprint 1 1 Sara Carrigan (Qld) Pitcher Partners 2 Jo Kiesonowski (NZl) Pitcher Partners 3 Kate Bates (NSW) Pitcher Partners Sprint 2 1 Sara Carrigan (Qld) Pitcher Partners 2 Sally Cowman (Qld) Werribee Mansion Hotel / NSWIS 3 Tiffany Cromwell Support Race 1 Julian Dutton (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 12 pts 2 Fabio Calabria (Canberra Cycling Club) 10 3 Evan Oliphant (Scotland) 8 4 Leigh Howard (Geelong Cycle Club) 7 5 Nicholas Walker (Brunswick Cycling Club Inc) 6 6 Shaun Lewis (SA) 5 7 Andrew Naylor (Blackburn Cycling Club Inc) 4 8 Andrew Stalder (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 9 Daniel Braunsteins (Hawthorn Youth Club) 2 10 Christopher Luxton (Norwood C.C.) 1 Sprint 1 1 Leigh Howard (Geelong Cycle Club) 2 Russell Collett (Northcote Cycling Club Inc) 3 Andrew Stalder (Carnegie Caulfield CC) Sprint 2 1 Steve Leishman (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Nicholas Walker (Brunswick Cycling Club Inc) 3 Andrew Naylor (Blackburn Cycling Club Inc) Overall standings after race 4 Elite Men 1 Hilton Clarke (Vic) Portfolio Partners 30 pts 2 Greg Henderson (NZl) Drapac-Porsche Cycling Team 29 3 Robbie McEwen (Qld) Volvo Team T5 24 4 Christian Lademann (Ger) Drapac-Porsche Cycling Team 18 5 Trent Wilson (NSW) Grand Mercure on Swanston 12 6 Mark Renshaw (NSW) Skilled 12 7 Richard England (Vic) Jayco / Giant 12 8 Peter McDonald (NSW) FRF Couriers - Caravello 12 9 Will Walker (Vic) Jayco VIS 11 10 Baden Cooke (Vic) Portfolio Partners 10 11 Simon Gerrans (Vic) Pitcher Partners 11 12 David Kupka (Cze) Volvo Team T5 8 13 Johnny Clark (Vic) Jayco VIS 4 Elite Women 1 Katie Mactier (Vic) Jayco VIS 39 pts 2 Oenone Wood (ACT) Mercure Hotel Welcome 27 3 Belinda Goss (Tas) 25 4 Sally Cowman (Qld) Werribee Mansion Hotel / NSWIS 20 5 Alexis Rhodes (SA) Pitcher Partners (SA) Pitcher Partners 18 6 Jo Kiesonowski (NZl) Pitcher Partners 17 7 Hayley Brown (WA) Pitcher Partners 17 8 Sara Carrigan (Qld) Pitcher Partners 12 9 Jennie MacPherson (Vic) Jayco VIS 12 10 Kate Nichols (NSW) 12 Support Race 1 Evan Oliphant (Scotland) 30 pts 2 Angus Morton (Port Macquarie) 20 3 Stephen Rossendell (Hobart Wheelers) 19 4 Julian Dutton (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 19 5 Gary Mueller (Brunswick Cycling Club Inc) 18 6 Shaun Lewis (SA) 17 7 Daniel Braunsteins (Hawthorn Youth Club) 14 8 Nicholas Walker (Brunswick Cycling Club Inc) 13 9 Dale Scarfe (Central Coast CC) 11 10 Fabio Calabria (Canberra Cycling Club) 11 Sprints classification Elite Men 1 Trent Wilson (NSW) Grand Mercure on Swanston 11 pts 2 Greg Henderson (NZl) Drapac-Porsche Cycling Team 9 3 Will Walker (Vic) Jayco VIS` 8 4 Robbie McEwen (Qld) Volvo Team T5 7 5 Hilton Clarke (Vic) Portfolio Partners 6 6 Simon Gerrans (Vic) Pitcher Partners 5 Elite Women 1 Jo Kiesonowski (NZl) Pitcher Partners 13 pts 2 Katie Mactier (Vic) Jayco VIS 11 3 Sara Carrigan (Qld) Pitcher Partners 6 4 Oenone Wood (ACT) Mercure Hotel Welcome 4 5 Amanda Spratt (NSW) Werribee Mansion Hotel / NSWIS 3 6 Alexis Rhodes (SA) Pitcher Partners (SA) Pitcher Partners 3 Teams classification Elite Men 1 Drapac Porsche 48 pts 2 Portfolio Partners 41 3 Jayco VIS 28 Elite Women 1 Pitcher Partners 70 pts 2 Jayco Vis 51 3 Volvo 30 4 Merucre Welcome 28 5 Werribee Mansion 26