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Jayco Bay Cycling Classic - NE
Geelong, Australia, January 2-6, 2008
Stage 8 - January 5: Geelong Botanic Gardens - Elite women
Bates gets it right, Dunn clings to series lead
By Malcolm Sawford in Geelong
Sixteen year-old sensation Megan Dunn (CBD/NSWIS Development Team), a self confessed non-sprinter, kept the yellow jersey with a fighting sixth place finish in the series' first bunch sprint. Kate Bates (Pitcher Partners) took the stage win with a powerful sprint, relegating Emma Rickards (Jayco VIS) and Belinda Goss (Volvo) to the minor placings.
With one race remaining, the pressure will intensify on the youngster from Dubbo, who heads into the final day with a two-point lead over Goss, and Bates a further four points adrift. Bates is certainly looking forward to the exciting final day, saying "it's much more exciting when it's not already decided before the last day. This is much better racing. It means we can ride tactically, not just against one team, there's five teams out there having a go."
Dunn didn't expect to be holding the yellow jersey again today. "But I pulled it off," she said. "Full credit to my team, it wasn't a solo effort. I've just got to give a big shout out to both the Degani Café and CBD girls because they pulled off an amazing show today - we're still wearing yellow and we've got the sprint jersey!"
Bates attributed her win to self-belief. "It comes a lot down to confidence. I know I've got the speed and the power, but knowing it when it hasn't been a bunch sprint - except for yesterday and I really ballsed that up - I think I really needed that today. If you're sprinting from ten back it doesn't matter how fast you are! It's about positioning, and I was a lot more aware of that today.
"I said to my team 'today I'll look after myself,' I certainly didn't want to be in front of Belinda, didn't want to be leading her out, she's so hard to sprint against that way."
Rickards was also delighted to finish on the podium. "It's always good to get the Jayco name up on the podium considering they're our major sponsor as well as the Bay Series major sponsor. I had a crack yesterday, but it wasn't really my sort of course. This course is a bit more suited to me with a few rolling hills in it and a slight uphill finish. I just sat patient and kept my eye on Gossy and Batesy, and when they went I went for the line but couldn't quite get Kate."
Dunn admitted that she had probably spent too much time on the front of the bunch, which may have cost her a few places at the finish. "It's all about learning for me. Olivia [Gollan], who's a top pro, has been teaching me lots of things, but I still probably did a bit too much today, but it's all about learning."
How it unfolded
Two laps in, one of the independents in the field, Sue Forsyth, jumped away from the bunch at the start of the descent towards the finish line and had a handy lead as she reached the base of the gradual climb that marked the back side of the circuit.
The combination of the gradient and the head wind proved too much, and the bunch regained contact near the summit - an outcome that would play out time and time again during the race.
At the first sprint, Lauren Kitchen (NSWIS/Degani Café) was unchallenged and further extended her lead in the Mazda Sprint Ace green jersey; and a similar effort at the second sprint effectively guaranteed the overall win for the 17 year-old. "That's just a fantastic feeling," Kitchen admitted, "but I'm still looking forward to tomorrow's race!"
Oenone Wood (Geelong Mazda) and Helen Kelly (Jayco VIS) counter attacked straight after the first sprint, but also found the drag up the back straight too tough. The day's longest escape saw Tiffany Cromwell (Richmond Cyclery/Promains) combine with Kath O’Shea (Jayco VIS), Jenny Macpherson (Rapido Cycles) and Kate Cullen (Skilled), with Cromwell making a second effort straight after the bunch reformed which kept the chasers at bay for another half a lap.
During the chase, Jessica Berry (Jayco VIS) fell heavily and lay motionless at the side of the road. Fortunately, the news after the race from team manager Anna Wilson was promising, with Berry escaping with concussion and relatively minor gravel rash.
After Kitchen's second sprint win, Rickards and Dunn tried to slip away, but were marked by the yellow jersey clad Alexis Rhodes (Pitcher Partners). Dunn and Wood combined in a final attempt to escape came just after the field had been shown '2 to go', but were quickly shut down by the Pitchers Partners squad.
On the final lap, Dunn marked Rhodes, while Goss shadowed Wood. Volvo team mates Gina Grain and Kirsty Broun set a fierce pace up the hill, before Kitchen took over the lead at the final corner. She opened the sprint a long way out, with Goss and Bates next in line. Goss started her sprint with 250 metres to go, while Bates was more patient and waited until the slight upturn in the road to blast past on the right hand side for a convincing win. Rickards also chose the right side, and overhauled a fading Goss in the final metres to claim second.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by WomensCycling.net
1 Kate Bates (Pitcher Partners) 12 pts 2 Emma Rickard (Jayco VIS) 10 3 Belinda Goss (Volvo) 8 4 Teressa Cliff-Ryan (Geelong Mazda) 7 5 Peta Mullens (Jayco VIS) 6 6 Megan Dunn (CBD/NSWIS) 5 7 Leonie Burford (NSWIS Degani Café) 4 8 Jenny Macpherson (Rapido Cycles) 3 9 Louise Moriarty (Skilled) 2 10 Gina Grain (Volvo) 1 Sprints 1 Lauren Kitchen (NSWIS Degani Café) 17 pts 2 Olivia Gollan (NSWIS/Degani Café) 6 2 Sara Carrigan (Rapido Cycles) 6 Teams 1 Pitcher Partners 56 pts 2 Volvo 37 3 CBD/NSWIS 32 General classification after stage 4 1 Megan Dunn (CBD/NSWIS) 32 pts 2 Belinda Goss (Volvo) 30 3 Kate Bates (Pitcher Partners) 26 4 Alexis Rhodes (Pitcher Partners) 22 5 Emma Rickard (Jayco VIS) 16 6 Teressa Cliff-Ryan (Geelong Mazda) 15 7 Lauren Kitchen (NSWIS Degani Café) 12 8 Oenone Wood (Geelong Mazda) 11 9 Leonie Burford (NSWIS Degani Café) 11 10 Peta Mullens (Jayco VIS) 10