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Australian Open Road Championships - CN

Ballarat, Australia, January 9-January 12, 2008

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Stage 2 - January 9: Elite women's time trial, 28 km

O'Donnell shows her engine

By Paul Verkuylen in Ballarat, Victoria

Bridie O'Donnell from Melbourne
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Two years ago Bridie O'Donnell recorded the fastest amateur women's time split for the Hawaii Ironman, before answering a call for an Australia talent identification program titled Women with Big Engines. Since then, the 33 year-old has been working toward her goal of representing Australia at the Beijing Olympic Games this August and today she came one step closer by winning the Women's Elite Time Trial title, her first national title.

"I was a rower for six years and then I did the Hawaii Ironman and a couple of ironman triathlons in 2006 before answering this call for a talent identification program at the end of 2006," she explained.

Today O'Donnell showed that her preparations are on track as she came home 15 seconds clear of second placed Sara Carrigan (Qld) and Alexis Rhodes (S.A.), who both finished within a second of one another. "It's been pretty challenging and coming from nowhere; I had to prove myself," explained O'Donnell. "I went to Europe in September to race the Chrono Champenois and the Chrono des Nations in France. I did that because I wanted to show the national selectors that I could perform well internationally."

"The risk paid off," added the Victorian.

The podium spray is fun!
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

O'Donnell's results in the French races surely raised the Australia selectors' eyebrows, as she rode well to secure seventh at Chrono Champenois and second in Chrono des Nations. Despite her brilliant performance in the Elite Women's race, O'Donnell was four kilometres per hour slower than the average required for automatic Olympic selection, a mark that Victorian institute of Sport coach Dave Sanders had described as "probably too much to expect", prior to the event.

Olympic road champion Carrigan was happy with her second place after a tough race. "I felt pretty good; I have put a lot of work in over the past few months, I've really targeted the Time Trial," said the top Queenslander. "It's something that I want to do at Beijing. It's a bit disappointing to not be on the top spot, but I gave everything."

Alexis Rhodes from South Australia
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Carrigan was another rider who emphasized the challenge presented by the course and believes that it's definitely one where riders cannot bluff their way through. "Whoever has done the work is going to be on the podium," she explained.

Australian cycling stalwart Kathy Watt proved once again that she can still be competitive when she finished fourth, after almost missing her start time as she was still warming up.

Other notable performances came from Oenone Wood, who fell from the start house and was awarded a few minutes grace as she composed herself, eventually starting last. Wood's time, just under one and a half minutes slower than that of O'Donnell, shows that she and Team High Road team-mate Rhodes are in good shape for the Elite Women's Road Race on Saturday.

In the Under 23 Women's event, which was held with the Elite race, former junior points race world champion Amanda Spratt powered to the title. Her time of 43.03 placed her eighth overall and holds her in good stead for a stellar career in the future. Louise Kerr (Qld) rode a great race to finish second, with youngster Katherine Baker (ACT) clinching third.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Shane Goss/www.licoricegallery.com

Images by WomensCycling.Net

Images by John Veage


1 Bridie O'Donnell (VIC)      41.41 (40.303 km/h)
2 Sara Carrigan (QLD)          0.14
3 Alexis Rhodes (SA)           0.15
4 Kathryn Watt (VIC)           0.37
5 Vicki Whitelaw (ACT)         0.55
6 Natalie Bates (NSW)          1.16
7 Carla Ryan (QLD)             1.20
8 Amanda Spratt* (NSW)         1.23
9 Oenone Wood (ACT)            1.28
10 Jocelyn Loane (QLD)         3.13
11 Toireasa Gallagher (NSW)    3.18
12 Jane Despas (NSW)           3.23
13 Louise Kerr* (QLD)          3.49
14 Stephanie Frawley (SA)      3.51
15 Kerry Knowler (ACT)         3.57
16 Katherine Baker* (ACT)      4.13
17 Carlee Taylor* (SA)         4.15
18 Jackie Prentice (VIC)       4.17
19 Nicole Whitburn (VIC)       4.47
20 Peta Mullens (VIC)          4.54
21 Helen Griffiths (QLD)       5.01
22 Nikki Egyed (QLD)           5.08
23 Jemma O'brien (NSW)         5.24
24 Sarah Roy* (NSW)            5.40
25 Davina Summers (WA)         5.53
26 Carly Hibberd (QLD)         5.59
27 Rachel Neylan (SA)          6.21
28 Rebecca Armstrong (WA)      6.42
29 Liz Young (QLD)             6.58
30 Tahlia Paskin* (QLD)        7.14
31 Loren Rowney* (QLD)         7.16
32 Rebecca Bannon (SA)         7.39
33 Lisa Payne (SA)             8.03
34 Kate Finegan (NSW)          8.26
35 Olivia Pilla (SA)           8.56
36 Rebecca Thyne* (NT)         8.57
37 Kira Mason* (SA)            9.01
38 Caitlin Deckert* (SA)       9.05
39 Nicole Keily (QLD)          9.42
40 Jacqui Hickey (ACT)        10.43

*Denotes Under 23 rider

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