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2006 Commonwealth Games - JR
Melbourne, Australia, March 16-26, 2006
March 17: Womens 25km points race
Australia 1-2 with Bates and Gilmore
By Mal Sawford with additional reporting by Rob Jones
Australian head coach Martin Barras named Kate Bates as one of only two certainties for the home team on the track, and the 23 year-old did not let him down as she took out the points race after leading from the opening sprint. So dominant was Bates' performance, that she claimed four of the first five sprints, and with the race all but wrapped up, helped teammate Rochelle Gilmore to take the silver medal ahead of Kate Cullen (Scotland).
Race winner Bates commented, "Everything went perfectly to plan, and obviously I had two team mates out there with Alex Rhodes and Rochelle Gilmore and the three of us just worked perfectly out there. We dominated the race, got the gold and silver, and without Rhodesy we would have got neither."
When asked how important it was to have Rhodes riding for her, Bates replied, "Oh, bloody important! She's my best mate, she's my biggest support, so to have her out there on the track for you is more than I could ask for. She is inspirational. She might laugh, but of course watching how she goes about things from day to day, you just can't feel sorry for yourself at all, what she's been through in the last six months. It motivates you and makes you drag your arse of bed every morning and feel good about it!
"I had a pretty big fan club up in the stands my parents and some school friends– all my friends were there, it would have been embarrassing if I didn't do something good. I think that really helped us along, we had an amazing team, I think we really from the outset showed our dominance. We went out to ride as a team, and take the race as ours.
And I mean Alex is my best friend: I know I can trust her out there, and I think you can't go into a race with more confidence than that. Rochelle and I didn't have to race each other in the second half, but support each other."
Bates can now look forward to the individual pursuit, where another medal is a distinct possibility. "I'm really looking forward to it actually," she said. "Obviously Katie Mactier is a bit of a local hero, but I look forward to sort of sticking it to her a little bit and seeing what happens!"
Bates was also asked about the dangers of cycling, and the after effects of last year's tragedy for the Australian women in Germany. "To be honest, when you're racing a bike you really only concentrate on the race, but it's something you wake up thinking about in the morning. Basically, bike racing is a hell of a lot of fun, but it's not the be all and end all."
Gilmore was delighted with her silver medal. "I wouldn't have won my silver medal here without Kate Bates, she was as strong as ten men out there. She drove me along to my silver medal along with winning her gold, and she really deserves it. She's been so consistent the past few years, and she's been a fantastic role model and one day I hope I can be as strong as her. It was an inspiration racing with Kate, and an inspiration racing with Alex."
Cullen's bronze medal was "the first for a Scottish female. No-one knew who I was out there, and I think that was an advantage for me. I didn't have anyone out there to help me, but I knew who I had to watch. We've been here since December which is good because it's been snowing at home. There's an outdoor track in Edinburgh, which is really stupid because it rains all the time!"
Rhodes plays key role
It was a brilliant display of team work by the Aussies, with Alexis Rhodes constantly setting the pace at the head of the field, chasing attacks and allowing Bates and Gilmore to use their speed at will. Rhodes was tenacious in chasing down every attack, but as she said, "It was my job. But they just kept attacking and I was thinking 'can you not?' I felt bad chasing Emma Jones (England) because she broke her back around the same time I did, but she just kept attacking and I had to chase. It was like 'I'm so sorry!'"
Rhodes has become quite accustomed to plenty of media attention as she continues her amazing return to racing at the highest level. "I thought win, lose or draw, I was going to make the news anyway. For me, before the race talking to Macca, our coach, it was just to try and set the race up for Kate and Rochelle to go one-two and help them as much as I possibly could.
"I had my family here supporting me; I think I'm related to half the crowd tonight! Obviously I'm the one who's got to push the pedals, but I've got so many people behind me that it doesn't seem like such a big burden."
The only slight danger to Bates came late in the race, when a counter attack after the penultimate sprint saw four riders go clear in an attempt to steal a lap. Catherine Sell (New Zealand), Mandy Poitras (Canada), Jones (England) and Iona Wynter (South Africa) pulled half a lap clear before Bates herself went to the front of the bunch to end the danger.
Jones clipped a wheel in the final lap and fell, allowing Poitras to take the final sprint, but Bates and Gilmore had the luxury of crossing the line with their arms in the air, saluting the crowd as they celebrated their one-two finish. Jones' game plan had been "to try and wear the Aussies out, but it didn't work. They are head and shoulders above us."
While not making excuses, Jones said the effects of her injury after she was struck by a car last year means, "It will probably take another six months to get back to full fitness. I'm really looking at the world championships and after the accident I came back with a lot more focus. If things had been different I might have been able to challenge the Aussies."
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by AFP Photo
Images by Shane Goss/www.licoricegallery.com
Images by Rob Jones/www.canadiancyclist.com
Images by CJ Farquharson/WomensCycling.net
1 Katherine Bates (Australia) 30 pts 2 Rochelle Gilmore (Australia) 21 3 Kate Cullen (Scotland) 13 4 Gina Katherine Grain (Canada) 12 5 Mandy Poitras (Canada) 10 6 Joanne Kiesanowski (New Zealand) 9 7 Emma Jones (England) 4 8 Nikki Harris (England) 3 9 Iona Wynter (Jamaica) 2 10 Alexis Rhodes (Australia) 2 11 Tammy Boyd (New Zealand) 1 12 Uracca Leow Hoay Sim (Malaysia) 1 13 Noor Azian Binti Alias (Malaysia)