Oceania Games - CC
Sydney, Australia, December 8-16, 1999
Road Day 2 - December 15, 1999
By Jeffrey Jones
The women once again were the first to tackle the road course at Bringelly, backing up for nine laps (90 km) after yesterday's two lap time trial. The field was this time stacked with Australians - 13 in all, so an Aussie win was strongly on the cards. However, although these were the general team tactics, the Aussies were still instructed to race amongst themselves, making the race a little more interesting than it could have been.
After a steady start, the pace picked up on lap three with several attacks coming from all quarters. The casualties at this point were Australia's Tioreasa Ryan, who retired after puncturing, and Guam rider, Kari Wickland who had been dropped. The bunch were essentially together though by the end of the lap.
On the fourth lap, Australian riders Rochelle Gilmore and Fjelda Lee attacked, gaining a handy lead on the pack which they maintained until midway through lap five. The New Zealanders were forced to do much of the chasing at this point, giving the stronger Australians - Sandra Smith, Felicity Myers and Kristy Scrymgeour, an easy ride in the bunch. The Kiwis did their job and caught the pair, but were immediately countered by Belinda Probert (Aus) who went off solo on the fifth lap. A casualty at this point was Kiwi Kirsty Robb, who had been stung by a bee and was having trouble holding onto the pack. However, she perservered.
On lap seven, the decisive move came from the bunch with Natalie Bates, Fiona Dwyer, and Kirsty Robb (!) bridging to Probert, closely followed by Nora Moeke (NZ), Margaret Hemsley, and Hayley Rutherford (both Aus). Robb unfortunately punctured but was able to regain the front group as the seven came together. This was clearly the break, as the bunch were now watching each other and there was no one really left to chase.
On the penultimate lap, Robb and early breakaway Probert were tailed off, leaving five riders to fight it out for the gold - four Aussies and one Kiwi. Surely there wouldn't be a repeat of Sunday's Keirin [were NZ'er Anthony Peden upstaged four Aussies to win the event]. Chasing the front seven was Australia's Emma James who was making big inroads into the break, while the bunch was over two minutes back.
The Australians got it right at the end, with the experienced Margaret Hemsley and 19 year-old Hayley Rutherford attacking with 3km to go. Although not normally a good sprinter, Hemsley jumped with 150m to go, just holding off a tired Rutherford at the finish. In third position was Nora Moeke who salvaged a medal for the Kiwis. Emma James managed to catch Robb to take 6th, finishing just 24 seconds behind the winners.
A former triathlete, Hemsley described the race as "a lot tougher than I thought, because of the heat. There were a lot of attacks, and we [the Australians] were working the Kiwis over, within reason to try and get the win."
"I wasn't very confident coming into the race that I would be the one to take the win, but I have now and I'm very happy," said Hemsley afterwards, who has only been training for four weeks after a hard European season. "I'm not usually a good sprinter, but I think I was just stronger than Hayley at the end."
"The Oceania's are not that important for Olympic selection, but the win will help me in terms of other races next year [World Cup, World Championships etc.]. This year, I've just done all tours with the AIS, no World Cup races," said Hemsley.
Second placed Rutherford is riding in the senior ranks for the first time this year, and has already won a stage in the Mt Buller Cup, and the Western Australian Road Championships. She started riding in 1996 on the track, but switched to the road because of "too many crashes!".
On her race: "I was trying to cover the moves early on, but that made me tired later. I was trying to ride small gears but those little hills take the sting out of your legs. I'm usually a good sprinter, but I've been doing heaps of miles lately so I'm not too quick at the moment," said a somewhat disappointed Rutherford, who still considered this to be one of her best results.
Results: 1 Margaret Hemsley (Aus) 2.26.24 (36.89 km/h) 2 Hayley Rutherford (Aus) 3 Nora Moeke (NZ) 0.15 4 Fiona Dwyer (Aus) 5 Natalie Bates (Aus) 0.16 6 Emma James (Aus) 0.24 7 Kirsty Robb (NZ) 0.39 8 Belinda Probert (Aus) 0.50 9 Rochelle Gilmore (Aus) 1.58 10 Felicity Myers (Aus) 11 Sandra Smith (Aus) 2.00 12 Naomi Williams (Aus) 2.01 13 Bianca Netzler (Sam) 2.04 14 Fjelda Lee (Aus) 15 Kristy Scrymgeour (Aus) 16 Annalisa Farrell (NZ) 17 Toireasa Ryan (Aus) DNF 18 Kari Wickland (Guam) DNF
The U19 men's road race was conducted immediately after the women had finished. Unfortunately for them, it meant racing in the heat of the day and it was certainly hot! The field was somewhat more balanced than the women, being split evenly between Australians and New Zealanders, with the Aussies holding a slight advantage. The remainder were the New Caledonians: Ken Nicholls, Jerry Bousquet, and Steve Clavier.
The race was very aggressive from the second lap on, when the field split into two groups. A group of five riders - Caleb Manion (Aus), Ric Steel (Aus), Steve Clavier (NCl), Michael Leaf (NZ) and Jonathan Vahry (NZ) had attacked, quickly gaining 50 seconds on the bunch, who were in two minds whether to chase, as all the countries were represented in the break.
Vahry punctured and was forced to drop back after three laps, and it was up to the remaining peloton to try and bridge the gap. On the fourth, two riders - Jonathan Davis (Aus) and Chris Boersen (NZ) tried and steadily closed in. They were followed by two more Aussies, Ashley Humbert and Nash Kent. These four came together, although Kent was later dropped, and they managed to bridge to the front riders on lap six.
This left a group of seven in front - Davis, Humbert, Steel, Manion (all Aus), Leaf, Boersen (NZ), and Clavier (NCl), with three Aussies (Mackey, Kent, and Lee) a minute and a half back, and the bunch nearly four minutes back. The heat was certainly taking it's toll, and most of the bunch pulled out with one lap to go.
On the eighth lap, early aggressor Manion attacked on the back half of the course on one of the little climbs. The two Kiwis were too tired to chase at this point, having been worked over by the Australians, and were forced to let Manion go. He did just this, soloing to victory by a minute and a half. A hard earned victory for this young Tasmanian rider.
The "bunch" sprint was led out from a long way by New Caledonian, Clavier. It was a good move with the tailwind, however he was just pipped on the line by Davis (Aus) and had to settle for the bronze. Kiwis Boersen and Leaf finished in fourth and fifth spots.
A very hot and exhausted Manion told cyclingnews afterwards, "It was great to win - I attacked with about one and a half laps to go, just on the little climb. But, the last five kilometers were really hard, especially with this heat and dead roads. The team plan worked though - we were just told to have double the Aussies to Kiwis in the break which we did."
Manion, who will be 19 early next year has had quite a hard year, racing for three months with an Italian U-19 team - Giusti. In 1998, he won a stage of a race in Tuscany, which he rates his best performance, however he puts this Oceania result "up there".
Next year, he intends on staying at home in Tasmania to do the domestic season - the Tattersalls Cup, the one day Classics and the Bank Race are all on his agenda. The overall plan is to strengthen up before tackling the overseas U-23 competitions.
The Oceania Games will conclude tomorrow with the men's 120km road race, which has been shortened due to the heat, and presumably the comparatively small field size.
Results: 1 Caleb Manion (Aus) 2.17.14 (39.35 km/h) 2 Jonathan Davis (Aus) 1.36 3 Steve Clavier (NCal) 4 Chris Boersen (NZ) 5 Michael Leaf (NZ) 6 Nash Kent (Aus) 7 Ashley Humbert (Aus) 8 Daniel Mackey (Aus) 3.50 9 Ric Steel (Aus) 10 Rory Sutherland (Aus) DNF 11 Jerry Bousquet (NCal) DNF 12 Yohan Honore (NCal) DNF 13 Ken Nicholls (NCal) DNF 14 Steve Pascal (NCal) DNF 15 Darren Rolfe (Aus) DNF 16 Danny Hillary (NZ) DNF 17 Joel Leonard (Aus) DNF 18 Jonathan Vahry (NZ) DNF 19 Jeremy Yates (NZ) DNF 20 Lee Godfrey (Aus) DNF