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Photo ©: Bettini

2006 Commonwealth Games - JR

Melbourne, Australia, March 16-26, 2006

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March 26: Women’s road race

Complete live report

09:01 EST   
Welcome to our updates from the women's road race at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. It's a cool but sunny morning in Melbourne as the 36-strong field rolls away from the line.

The course here is 11.1km long and the women's field will race 9 laps for a 100km event.

09:04 EST   
For the benefit of Cyclingnews readers who can't get to TV coverage of the races today we will try and keep you updated often, but we probably won't be able to provide our usual frequency of updates.

09:05 EST   
Five minutes into the race and the group is all together rolling through the Victorian morning sunshine.

09:19 EST   
The powerhouse Australian team is the strong favourite to provide the winner today, but Sarah Ulmer of New Zealand has started, and will be extremely motivated after having to miss out on the time trial a couple of days ago.

09:22 EST   
A small breakaway has formed of Mandy Poitras (Canada), Nat Bates (Australia), Emma Jones (England), Toni Bradshaw (New Zealand) and Noor Azian Binti Alias (Malaysia). They're already 21 seconds ahead of the bunch.

09:27 EST    14km of 100km/86km to go
The break now has a gap of over a minute. With every significant nation represented in this break, will the peloton even bother to chase?

09:35 EST    20km of 100/80km to go
As they come to the end of the second 11km lap, the five-woman break has stretched its lead to 1:30.

09:45 EST   
Olivia Gollan (Australia) is attempting to bridge to the break

09:46 EST   
The five breakaway riders are working together, swapping turns tidily to establish their break. Meanwhile, except for Gollan, the main peloton is just cruising.

09:47 EST   
It looks like Olivia Gollan was just stretching her legs - she's back in the bunch.

09:48 EST   
The break now has an advantage of 2:26.

09:57 EST    33km/67km to go
As they come toward the end of the third lap, the break's advantage continues to grow. England's Emma Jones is perhaps the strongest rider in the break, which puts teams such as Australia and New Zealand in a quandary. Do they rely on their riders in the break Toni Bradshaw (New Zealand) and Natalie Bates (Australia) or do they chase it down and risk giving a rival a free ride to the front?

10:11 EST   
The weather is getting windy which is unlikely to affect the final outcome of this race, but may make things harder for the weaker riders who are just hanging on to the back of the peloton.

This afternoon's men's race will see a much larger field and warmer temperatures, It's currently about 22 Celsius, but the forecast is for the low 30s. That's not scorching hot, but it will make it important for the riders to watch their hydration.

10:12 EST   
Natalie Bates of Australia seems to have stopped working with the break; she is simply sitting in at the back. Is the Australian team planning to reel in the escape to try and get Carrigan or Wood in position for the win?

10:17 EST    43km/57km to go
Poitras, Bradshaw and Jones are still working at the front; the break has a gap of about 3 minutes, but Natalie Bates is definitely just sitting in.

10:22 EST    45km/55km to go
Nicole Cooke has attacked and as she went an Australian and New Zealand rider crashed

10:25 EST   
Olivia Gollan (Australia) lapsed concentration for a moment and touched wheels with Nicole Cooke. Melissa Holt (New Zealand) went straight over the top of her and Rachel Heal (England) also crashed as she tried to avoid the melee. All three are basically unhurt, but Holt seems to be out of the race.

10:31 EST   
England has sent two riders back to try and help Heal return to the peloton.

10:34 EST   
Olivia Gollan is back in the race too. Losing a rider of her experience and strength would have been a big blow for Australia. Gollan was national champion a couple of years ago, and is a tireless team worker.

10:35 EST   
Emma Davies Jones (England) has attacked the break.

10:38 EST    50km/50km to go
Melissa Holt has been taken to hospital with a shoulder injury.

Nicole Cooke (Wales) has led a move off the front of the main peloton, and has been followed by Sarah Ulmer (New Zealand) and Oenone Wood (Australia) among others.

The gap is already back down around two minutes.

10:42 EST    53km/47km to go
Poitras and Bates have followed Jones' break.

Nicole Cooke and Sarah Ulmer are leading the peloton as they hack into the break's margin. The gap is down to 1:30 now.

10:45 EST    57km/43km to go
Nicole Cooke (Wales) has no team-mates to set the pace for her, but is simply sitting on the front of the peloton and powering the chase. Will this effort leave her with enough in the tank to contend for the win?

10:54 EST    60km/40km to go
Emma Jones has pulled over with a mechanical problem. England is having a day of rotten luck.

10:55 EST   
The break sat up and waited for Jones, since she had been driving the effort for the last several laps.

10:59 EST    60km/40km to go
After the chase attempt a lap or so ago, the peloton sat back up and the gap is now back up to almost four minutes.

11:04 EST   
The gap is now back down to 3:30 or so, but the main peloton is still cruising just after the feed zone.

11:09 EST    73km/27km to go
The peloton needs to do something soon if this break is to be caught, but with a rider from each of the strongest teams up the front, it's hard to see where a concerted response will come from. Only Nicole Cooke of Wales has something to gain by chasing it down, but a solo effort would leave her too tired for the finale.

11:11 EST   
Noor Alias (Malaysia) has popped off the front of the break, a very unexpected move from a rider who looked to be struggling just to hang on with the break.

11:12 EST   
The other four in the break looked at each other for a while, then chased Alias down. Bates has taken advantage of the increase in speed to attack.

11:14 EST    72km/28km to go
Natalie Bates has gone out hard, head down and pumping. It's a long way to the finish still; she'll need everything she has to make this attack stick.

11:18 EST    76km/24km to go
The peloton looks like it's out for a Sunday morning club run. Several Australian riders are on the front and cruising - they won't want to risk taking anyone up to threaten Bates' attack.

Bates has a 23 second lead on the four remaining breakaway riders

11:21 EST   
Before the race, Bates said she thought any of the Australian team could win today, and she's demonstrating just how true that was.

Bates has been joined by the neutral service motorbike, indicating that the gap between her and the four riders who were her breakaway companions is over 30 seconds.

11:26 EST    82km/18km to go
Bates' lead is 1:24 over the four and she looks very smooth, powerful and comfortable as she powers along next to the Yarra River.

11:31 EST    85km/15km to go
The peloton got a bit more animated for a couple of minutes, but it was too little, too late, and they're back in cruise control.

Natalie Bates is maintaining her gap at around 1:20, and this is starting to look like a race for silver from the four breakaway riders.

11:35 EST    88km/12km to go
Sarah Ulmer, Olivia Gollan and Charlotte Goldsmith (England) are off the front of the peloton. The four breakaway riders seem to have given up, opening the door for someone from the peloton to catch and nab silver.

Meanwhile at the front Natalie Bates is obviously working hard but looks strong and comfortable and has a 2:42 lead.

11:37 EST    89km/11km to go
Natalie Bates crosses the start/finish line on to the final lap with a margin of ove two and a half minutes over the field.

11:43 EST    90.5km/9.5km to go
Bates' margin is up to almost four minutes as the peloton comes up on the four former escapees. Poitras, Jones, Bradshaw and Alias have thrown away their medal chances by giving up after Bates got away.

And the escape is caught.

11:48 EST    93km/7km to go
The main peloton is jockeying for position to race for the silver medal; Natalie Bates (Australia) has a margin of 4:27 and looks strong and comfortable.

11:54 EST   
Charlotte Goldsmith (England) attacked on the climb, but Kate Bates (Australia) neutralised the move, which mostly had the effect of breaking up the peloton. Sarah Ulmer and Nicole Cooke are still up the front in the hunt for silver.

11:56 EST   
Natalie Bates crosses the line in solo triumph, waving an Australia flag!

11:59 EST   
Joanne kesanowski gets into position to help Ulmer, as the Australians try to line things up for Oenone Wood. Sarah Carrigan leads out toward the finish with Nicole Cooke on her wheel. Wood comes round Cooke to take second as Cooke counter-attacks hard to grab the bronze.

Results
 
1 Natalie Bates (Australia)
2 Oenone Wood (Australia)
3 Nicole Cooke (Wales)

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