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Australian Open Road Championships - CN
Ballarat, Australia, January 11-14, 2007
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Stage 2 - January 11: Elite women's time trial, 28 km
U23 Ryan dethrones veteran Watt
By Mark Zalewski in Ballarat, Victoria
Twenty-one year old Carla Ryan (Qld) surprised everyone on the warm summer day in Buninyong near Ballarat, clocking an average speed of nearly thirty-nine kilometers per hour as she won both the open and U23 women's time trial titles. Close behind Ryan was defending champion and Commonwealth Games silver medalist Kathy Watt (Vic) who was just ten seconds slower than the girl half her age.
"[This race] has been something I have been working on with my coach ever since I won the club nationals back in September," said Ryan, who was near tears when presented with the gold medal. "I broke my wrist last year and had a knee injury, so I only raced a couple of domestic races last year. 2006 was my first real season on the road and it wasn't until the second half when I got any results."
Ryan's place on the start list, eleven behind Watt, indicated she was not a pre-race favourite. However, when her splits on the course came back, it became clear she was a force not to be ignored. "When I saw the [TV] bike come up beside me I knew I had to be going good, for them to have the camera on me," she said. "I just tried not to think about it, but when I started passing girls it was pretty cool. But you can't ever let up and I just kept it going to the finish."
The warm weather, at least in the mid-30s, was clearly a factor today with more than one rider falling to the ground at the finish with exhaustion and cramping. "It was so tough with the heat," said third place Toireasa Gallagher (NSW) "The wind was much better than yesterday when we came out for training. Just the long dead straightaways were hard."
Watt also felt the heat, but says that changes to her training schedule for this season also made a difference today. "I've had six weeks off the bike and am just starting my preparation back. Last season I really peaked for January and won a silver in the Commonwealth games, but I couldn't keep it going through the season. So this season I am starting a bit slower, obviously a little too slow, but want to build up more throughout the year."
The heat did not affect Ryan as much, who says she is used to training in it in her native Queensland. But as for doubling up again in Saturday's road race, she only smiled and said, "I had to give it all on the day today, so we'll see what happens Saturday."
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Mark Gunter/www.pbase.com/gunterphotograph
Images by CJ Farquharson/www.WomensCycling.net
1 Carla Ryan (Qld) 43.13 (38.87 km/h) 2 Kathryn Watt (Vic) 0.10 3 Toireasa Gallagher (NSW) 0.36 4 Vicki Whitelaw (ACT) 1.05 5 Amanda Spratt (NSW) 1.19 6 Bridie O'Donnell (Vic) 1.44 7 Kate Mercer (Qld) 2.54 8 Stephanie Frawley (SA) 2.59 9 Louise Kerr (Qld) 3.04 10 Nicole Whitburn (Vic) 3.09 11 Dana Faletic (Tas) 3.11 12 Helen Griffiths (Qld) 3.17 13 Marilyn Macdonald (Vic) 3.20 14 Kerry Knowler (ACT) 3.24 15 Joanne Bennett (WA) 3.48 16 Suzanne Alway (Vic) 3.56 17 Kate Nichols (NSW) 4.03 18 Tiffany Cromwell (SA) 4.09 19 Liz Young (Qld) 4.12 20 Freya Scollay (NSW) 4.18 21 Rachel Rademaker (Vic) 4.46 22 Sarah Roy (NSW) 5.28 23 Clare Vlahopoulos (Vic) 5.57 24 Judith May (ACT) 6.21 25 Rachel Rayner (Vic) 6.58 26 Peta Mullens (Vic) 7.09 27 Amy Schramm (Qld) 7.37 28 Simone Spykers (Vic) 7.40 29 Nina Buxton (NSW) 7.51 30 Lorraine Meinke (Vic) 9.37 31 Louise Nicholson (Vic) 9.52 DNS Candice Sullivan (Qld)