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Jayco Bay Cycling Classic - NE

Geelong, Australia, January 2-6, 2008

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Stage 2 - January 3: Portarlington - Elite women

Youngster Kitchen takes sprint win

By Malcolm Sawford in Portarlington

Lauren Kitchen (Degani)
Photo ©: WomensCycling.net
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17 year-old Lauren Kitchen (NSWIS Degani Café) out-sprinted a select group of six riders including Oenone Wood (Geelong Mazda), a three time winner on the tough Port Arlington circuit. Alexis Rhodes (Pitcher Partners) held on to her race lead.

"It's an amazing feeling to come over the top of these girls," said the elated youngster, "I have photos of all these girls on my walls!"

Wood, who is strongly focused on the time trial at next week's Australian Open Road Championships, was impressed with Kitchen's turn of speed. "I am lacking speed, definitely. I've been doing time trial work obviously, and I just don't have the top end race speed at the moment, and that was pretty obvious today – she pumped me!"

Kitchen first rode the Bay Classic in 2007 as a sixteen year-old and knew the circuit suited her strengths. "It was one of the only ones I finished last year, so I was really happy with that and really looking forward to today. I've been working with my coach Graham Seers for the past three years in Port McQuarie. The training for the junior worlds and for the climbs in the selection races meant I was really suited to this course."

Alexis Rhodes was pleased to keep the leader's jersey for another day. "Just! And today we got Kate Bates up there as well, she's just one or two points behind Belinda Goss which for us is fantastic because we see Gossy as a major threat to the overall, but now we've got to watch that young girl Megan Dunn as well!

"We still think Kate's our best chance for winning the overall, but tomorrow night – I've won on that Ritchie Boulevard two years in a row so I could go for three! I don't really like that course, but it seems to like me so we'll see how we go!"

How it unfolded

Sara Carrigan (Rapido Cycles)
Photo ©: WomensCycling.net
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All races on the program were shortened by five minutes to accommodate television broadcast commitments, and with little opportunity to warm up on the course, the women used their opening laps to find the best lines through the nasty corners at either end of the finish straight.

Tiffany Cromwell (Richmond Cyclery/Promains) put in a couple of big efforts on successive laps five minutes in, but couldn't shake off the bunch, although her accelerations did cause the field to begin to split up. Sara Carrigan (Rapido Cycles) also tried to escape, but was quickly chased down, with the bunch largely intact for the first intermediate sprint.

Kitchen took the three points ahead of team leader Olivia Gollan and Carrigan, shortly before the race deciding attack came. Joining Kitchen and Wood were Emma Rickards (Jayco VIS), Josephine Tomic (Pitcher Partners), Megan Dunn (CBD/NSWIS Development Team) and Dellys Starr. There was certainly no lack of horsepower or experience in the group: Wood is one of the top ranked female riders world wide and a former winner of the World Cup, Rickards last race was the 2007 World Championships, Tomic holds three junior World Titles and Starr placed fifth in the cross country mountain bike race at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

A picturesque backdrop
Photo ©: WomensCycling.net
(Click for larger image)

The break meshed well, and with the Pitcher Partners team happy to let Belinda Goss' Volvo team do the chasing, the lead quickly ballooned to seventeen seconds within a lap. The margin steadily extended to hover around thirty seconds for the remainder of the race. The final sprint saw Tomic lead the break across the line, with Kitchen's second place enough to move her into the lead in the green jersey competition.

While the top six place were never in doubt, series leader Rhodes attacked the main bunch on the penultimate ascent of the back straight "pretty much just to tire Belinda out."

Rhodes halved the deficit with her late move and at the bell looked an outside chance of pulling off an upset, before the leaders kicked for home. Kitchen sprinted powerfully up the finishing straight, with Wood on her wheel, but Wood was unable to make any impression, and had to settle for second ahead of Tomic and Dunn.

The baby of the group, Dunn, backed up from her surprise third place on the opening stage to claim a hard fought fourth, and move within one point of Rhodes' yellow jersey. "With this whole series, I just came into it hoping to gain a lot of experience from the older riders, and, yesterday, was fantastic getting a third and being up on the podium. Then today to finish fourth and getting all these points; it's much more than I expected."


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by WomensCycling.net

Images by Nick McGrath


1 Lauren Kitchen (NSWIS Degani Café)                    12 pts
2 Oenone Wood (Geelong Mazda)                           10
3 Josephine Tomic (Pitcher Partners)                     8
4 Megan Dunn (CBD/NSWIS)                                 7
5 Emma Rickard (Jayco VIS)                               6
6 Dellys Starr                                           5
7 Alexis Rhodes (Pitcher Partners) 4                      
8 Kate Bates (Pitcher Partners)                          3 pts
9 Belinda Goss (Volvo)                                   2
10 Chloe Hosking (Geelong Mazda)                         1
1 Lauren Kitchen (NSWIS Degani Café)                     5 pts
2 Olivia Gollan (NSWIS/Degani Café                       5
3 Sara Carrigan (Rapido Cycles                           4
General Classification after Stage 2
1 Alexis Rhodes (Pitcher Partners)                      16 pts
2 Megan Dunn (CBD/NSWIS)                                15
3 Lauren Kitchen (NSWIS Degani Café)                    12
4 Belinda Goss (Volvo)                                  12
5 Oenone Wood (Geelong Mazda)                           11
6 Kate Bates (Pitcher Partners)                         10
7 Josephine Tomic (Pitcher Partners)                     8
8 Emma Rickard (Jayco VIS)                               6
9 Jenny Macpherson (Rapido Cycles)                       6
10 Dellys Starr                                          5

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