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2004 Jayco Bay Cycling Classic
Victoria, Australia, January 7-11, 2004
Victoria takes series lead following win by West Australian Rutherford
By Karen Forman in Geelong
West Australian riding for Victoria Hayley Rutherford achieved a well-earned win in the second stage of the 2004 Jayco Bay Classic in Port Arlington today, collecting enough points to swipe the leader's jersey from first stage winner Oenone Wood (ACT). Rutherford beat Kate Bates of NSW and Wood in the final sprint after being part of a three-woman breakaway which had managed to hold off a chasing bunch for the final six laps. She goes into Friday's third stage with 22 points, two ahead of her closest rival Wood.
Bates, meanwhile, is third in the overall with 12 points and leads the sprint aggregate ahead of Olivia Gollan (NSW) and Jessica Ridder (NSW) after winning both the 15 minute and 30 minute sprints. Rutherford was second in the first sprint and Wood third, while Ridder was second in the second sprint ahead of Alison Wright (ACT) in third.
Today's race was vastly different to the first stage at Hastings the previous day, in which riders were crashing on almost every lap due to a rain affected slippery course. Although there was some rain, the 1.3km course remained mostly dry for the event. However brutal headwinds combined with a steep pinch leading to the start/finish line, created a wall of resistance on every lap.
Victorian Emma Rickards didn't start after damaging soft tissue in her hand in one of the three falls she suffered during stage one - but overcame to finish fourth on the day. After having physiotherapy today, she hopes she will be able to start stage three at Geelong's Botanic Gardens on Friday night.
With better weather, the emphasis was more on riding tactically for placings rather than staying upright to finish, as on day one. Despite the first stage win going to the ACT, the well publicised NSW-Victorian rivalry was once again evident (in the friendliest of ways).
Katie Mactier (Victoria) dominated first wheel for most of the race, working hard for her teammates, who included Rutherford. The team had "borrowed" her to help boost its already glowing ranks in its bid to take the overall title from NSW which has held it for two years. Mactier is the Victorian favourite while Bates is the favourite for NSW.
Today, it was obvious Mactier was up to something right from the start. Every time the riders passed the start-finish line in the early laps, Mactier was out there in the lead - and most of the time, smiling. Later, she told Cyclingnews: "I was just helping out my team."
Bates, meanwhile, rode into the overall sprint aggregate lead when she sailed in to win the first intermediate sprint ahead of Gollan and Wood, but as soon as the sprint was over, Mactier was back on the front again. She set such a pace despite the wind that riders started to fall off the back everywhere and the field had been reduced to a bunch of 16 - led by Mactier - before the 30-minute sprint.
Jessica Ridder showed impressive strength, attacking through the start-finish line, but Wood and Gollan were onto her immediately. The race started to look like an elimination, with riders dropping off with every lap. Bates flew to the fore to win the second sprint and Rutherford made the most of the usual lapse of speed after a sprint to establish a small gap. With six laps to go Bates was working hard to bridge the gap while perseverance also paid off for Wood. Emma James (NSW) was between the breakaway group and the bunch (which was led by Mactier, by now working for Rutherford).
By the next lap it was Rutherford, Wood and Bates out front, with Mactier, Gollan and Bates riding together in front of the bunch. In anticipation of the sprint to come, Wood placed herself ideally in second wheel behind Rutherford, with Bates behind her. Rutherford was still in the lead at the bell...a win would make it possible for her to take the leader's jersey from Wood. Wood made her move in the back straight but Rutherford was riding brilliantly and managed to hold her off to win the race in a sprint finish, followed by Bates in second.
"I made my move through the last corner," she said at the finish. "I had a 10 metre gap and I thought that it was a good time to go. I was feeling a bit stiff last night (after crashing on day one). But I felt alright out there, although the wind was like a wall every time you hit the straight."
Rutherford said she was delighted to win the stage and the leader's jersey despite not having set herself for the Bay Classic. "The nationals is the main thing for me, I am just taking it as it comes," she said. "I am looking at the road race and time trial. I always love to go well at the nationals."
Rutherford was second in the road race and third in the time trial two years ago and criterium champion. Last year she was fourth in the road race and fifth in the time trial.
Images by Shane Goss/www.licoricegallery.com
1 Hayley Rutherford (Northern Districts) 2 Katherine Bates (Parramatta CC) 3 Oenone Wood (Canberra Cycling Club) 4 Alison Wright (Canberra Cycling Club) 5 Emma James (Bicisport) 6 Jessica Ridder (Bathurst CC) 7 Katie Mactier (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 8 Olivia Gollan (Kooragang Open CC) 9 Alexis Rhodes (Norwood C.C.) 10 Kate Nichols (St George CC) Sprints Sprint 1 - 15 minutes 1 Katherine Bates (Parramatta CC) 2 Hayley Rutherford (Northern Districts) 3 Oenone Wood (Canberra Cycling Club) Sprint 2 - 30 minutes 1 Katherine Bates (Parramatta CC) 2 Jessica Ridder (Bathurst CC) 3 Alison Wright (Canberra Cycling Club) General classification after race 2 1 Hayley Rutherford (Northern Districts) 22 pts 2 Oenone Wood (Canberra Cycling Club) 20 3 Katherine Bates (Parramatta CC) 12 4 Olivia Gollan (Kooragang Open CC) 11 5 Alison Wright (Canberra Cycling Club) 11 Sprint classification 1 Katherine Bates (Parramatta CC) 9 pts 2 Olivia Gollan (Kooragang Open CC) 5 3 Jessica Ridder (Bathurst CC) 4