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Surfers Paradise Criterium - NE
Surfers Paradise, Australia, December 14, 2003
Evans takes women's crit
Graham shakes up the boys but Dawson wins
By Karen Forman in Surfers Paradise
It was bigger and consistently faster than the men's A-grade - and a girl was one of the prime movers and shakers. That was the B-grade event at Sunday's third and final round of the Queensland Grand Prix Cycling Series at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast.
While it was eventually won handily by CATS rider and Australian junior (under 17) road time trial champion, Todd Dawson, the event will also be remembered for the presence of female rider Lorian Graham (Astra), who decided the experience of riding with males would test her outside her comfort zone and provide the kind of intensity she would find in Europe, where she bases herself during the road season.
Graham, who was a go-kart racer for 15 years before taking up cycling, showed she meant business right from the start, when she lined up at the front of the field and was on the tail of Dawson when he kicked at the start and set the pace at Very Fast. The field followed in single file until Gold Stars rider Jeff Harris managed jumped off the front and managed a three second gap. A number of riders were spat out the back in the first five minutes of racing.
With Harris out front, Dawson worked at the front of the chasing group with
assistance from an aggressive Graham. Her attacks resulted in the field being
halved. The lead changed with every lap and eventually the leaders were reeled
in . . . but soon there was another breakaway, by Tim Bartlett (Astra) and .
. . Graham.
The field rejoined and Dawson flew out of the first corner to win the event in a sprint finish. Graham was up there, to finish in sixth. "I had to beat her, " the 16 year old told Cyclingnews. "My training partners would never let me forget it if I was beaten by a girl." He was most impressed with Graham's efforts, giving her the ultimate compliment: "She rides like a man."
" She was always up there and I was worried," he said. "She's a great rider; really strong." Even without Graham the race had had some hairy moments, he said. "It was very hot, very humid and the course was very tight. And very fast - my average was 45kmh. With three to go a guy crashed and I was right on his wheel. I just got around him."
The youngster is setting himself for the mountain bike national championships in Victoria and hopes to make the junior worlds team, but says road racing is his first love. "I do MTB for the technical skills and training. If Cadel (Evans) can do it, so can I."
Channel 10 employee Graham, who finished sixth, said she was happy with her ride. "To go well overseas I need to race hard and this was hard," she said. "Probably another reason I like mixing it with the guys is that I used to race go-karts." Her next events will be the nationals in January, the Adelaide criteriums and then she's off to Italy to join the Australian Institute of Sport team.
Meanwhile the women's event featured only seven riders who copped the worst of the day's intense heat (which had peaked at 33 degrees at 9am). The first breakaway came in the first few minutes and saw Bridget Evans (Ffast), Diane Monk (Goldstars) and Sharon Heap (Goldstars) establish a gap and begin to swap turns as smoothly as any long-familiar team time trial team.
Chasing were LifeStyle team members Sheree Richmond, Kate Perkins and Wendy Haberman, while it was all too much for Roslyn Powley of Goldstars and she fell off the back. The leaders stayed out in front throughout the 30 minute event and even increased the pace to establish an 18 second gap. The chasing group showed no signs of wanting to give up, however.
With three laps to go, Evans was setting the pace at the front and with two to go, she and Heap were crossing the start-finish line together, chatting to each other. In the end the sprint was won by 31-year-old Brisbane rider Evans ahead of Monk and Heap.
"It was incredibly humid out there," Evans said. "It's only about my 15th race for 2003 as I had four months out with illness and have only been back on the bike for six weeks. I came third at Southbank last week, so this win is nice."
She said she was disappointed with the size of the field, saying she had expected newly-crowned Australian Female Road Cyclist of the Year Sara Carrigan to make an appearance. "She's the local girl and I thought she might have shown up to promote women's cycling."
Next up Evans is heading to Nerang next for the New Year's Day criterium and then to Victoria for the Skilled Bay Classic. She'll then contest the nationals, the Adelaide criterium series, the Cooma tour, the Canberra tour, Geelong tour and women's World Cup in Geelong.
It's a big program but she says after six years of racing, including five seasons in Europe as an independent, assisted by her partner and coach Paul Hughes, she's ready. "I raced with a French pro team in 2002 and then an Italian team for two seasons. Next year I'll be based at the base of the French Alps near Geneva."
Of racing without a team, she says she doesn't believe there is a European team for foreigners to comfortably fit into."You are always on the outer, the last to get stuff, pay, respect. It's not worth it."
But she says she lives for her cycling and refuses to let anything get in her way. "It's not just something to do for a couple of years, but a way of life; a living," she says. "I love it."
B Grade 1 Todd Dawson (CATS) 2 Jeff Harris (Goldstars) 3 Murray McClymont (Uni) 4 Tim Bartlett (Astra) 5 Wade Bootes (Goldstars) 6 Lorian Graham (Astra) Women 1 Bridget Evans (Ffast) 2 Diane Monk (Goldstars) 3 Sharon Heap (Goldstars)