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7th Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under - 2.HC
Australia, January 18-23, 2005
Race 1 - January 18: East End Adelaide Street Race, 30 mins + 3 laps
Rampaging Rhodes rides high
By Anthony Tan in Adelaide, South Australia
Former Australian criterium champion Alexis Rhodes showed South Australia how she became the queen of the crits in 2004 after a awesome, attacking display at the opening round of The Advertiser Women's Criterium Series in Adelaide this afternoon.
Rhodes, who recently returned from a successful outing at the third round of the Track World Cup in Manchester earlier this month, taking a bronze medal in the women's points race behind fellow Australian Katherine Bates, returned to Oz with speed and power aplenty. With a home crowd backing the blonde powerhouse, the local girl attacked not once, not twice, but three times before finally escaping the peloton's clutches with fellow SA rider Bianca Rogers on the bell lap, finishing off how she began as Rhodes soloed across Rundle Road straightaway, arms akimbo.
"I knew if I could get a bit of a gap, I knew it would probably last," said the jubilant winner about her final lap escapade. "In the last lap, people generally don't want to do work, because they're saving themselves for the sprint. So if you can get that bit of hesitation and a gap, you're usually alright."
Speaking about her offensive tactics right from the get-go, Rhodes explained to Cyclingnews that she felt great and knew the only way to win was to attack - again and again. "Yeah, feeling really good, but this isn't really my style of racing - I can't really afford to let it come down to a bunch sprint. I need to get away. I was hoping to get a Queenslander to come with me, because there's a strong group of [Queensland] girls in the field, but obviously it didn't happen."
With the Advertiser leader's jersey now on her shoulders, Rhodes said her aim is to place in the top five in the next two events (Thursday, Jan 20 in Goolwa and Saturday, Jan 22 in Aldinga Beach) to take out the series overall. "But I'm going to have to be a bit smart about it," she added.
How it unfolded
It was an aggressive race as soon as the flag dropped at 1730 hours today, signalling a 30 minutes plus three laps summertime sufferfest for the 30-odd women lining up for the first of three races in The Advertiser Women's Criterium Series. Despite the sun slowly edging its way west to the horizon, there was still plenty of heat about to keep the blood boiling, and with office workers in the nearby city centre clocking off for the day, the race got underway before a packed audience.
Among an incessant stream of attacks, New South Wales rider Kate Nichols, who rode a great national road race last Saturday to finish sixth, was the first rider to establish a reasonable gap on the third lap, but it was too eager and too early, with the daughter of '84 Los Angeles Olympian Kevin Nichols back into the fold before the start of lap 4. As soon as the regrouping occurred, another group of three tried to break clear, but the outcome was no different.
The mostly flat, non-technical two kilometre circuit did not deter others either; eventual winner Alexis Rhodes breaking away with Queenslander Sally Cowman the sixth time around, which gave an ominous indication of Rhodes' strength on the day as Cowman was soon left in her wake. But with a flock of sprinters biding their time in the peloton, it was all together again by the race's halfway point, their domestiques doing as ordered.
Athens gold medallist Sara Carrrigan was sitting comfortably at the head of the peloton, but not doing a whole lot, while evergreen race commentator Stuart Doyle was tipping track and road sprinter Rochelle 'Speedy' Gilmore from NSW as the one to beat. Their was a noticeable 'hummph!' from the parochial Adelaide crowd shortly after that!
Speaking of Stuey Doyle, the criterium was entering the 'business end of the bike race' to quote one of his more popular words of wisdom, and it was Rhodes once again who was 'wearing' the red power-suit, taking off with another rider five minutes before the bell. The break was caught once again, but Rhodes rode on unperturbed, this time forming a more favourable alliance with young South Australian Bianca Rogers just before the race entered the bell lap.
It turned out to be the winning move, Rhodes soloing across the line for her first major win of the year. Unfortunately for Rogers, she found her way back in the pack, and it was Rochelle Gilmore who found her way to the front first in the sprint for second, with Victorian Jenny Macpherson rounding out the podium.
With a precariously slender lead for much of the final lap, the crowd of journalists asked the victor of today's race when she thought she had it won. "Aw... probably about five metres from the line!" Rhodes said with a wry smile.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Mark Gunter/Cyclingnews.com
Images by CJ Farquharson
Images by Rachel Burke/www.maximumattack.biz
1 Alexis Rhodes (SA) 40 pts 2 Rochelle Gilmore (NSW) Safi-Pasta Zara-Manhattan 38 3 Jenny Macpherson (Vic) 36 4 Emma Rickards (Vic) 34 5 Bianca Rogers 32 6 Kate Nichols (NSW) 30 7 Claire Baxter (Vic) 28 8 Katherine Bates (NSW) Ton Van Bemmelen/AA Drink 26 9 Emma James (NSW) Randwick Botany/FRF Couriers 24 10 Amanda Spratt (NSW) 22 11 Katie Brown (NSW) 20 12 Hannah Banks (Qld) 18 13 Kirsty Bortolini 16 14 Natalie Bates (NSW) Ton Van Bemmelen/AA Drink 14 15 Lorian Graham (Qld) 12 16 Emma Mackie 10 17 Bridget Evans (Qld) 8 18 Sally Cowman (Qld) 6 19 Jessie Mclean (ACT) 4 20 Melinda Wood 2 21 Leeanne Mandersen 22 Rachel Sherborne 23 Jenny Manefield (NSW) 24 Sara Carrigan (Qld) 25 Genna Crean 26 Candice Sullivan (Qld) 27 Louise Yaxley (Tas) TIS/Cyclingnews.com DNF Lisa Payne DNF Nadia Auletta DNS Olivia Gollan (NSW) Nurnberger DNS Claire Stevens