Victorian women dominated the first Commonwealth Games Selection Race today. The thirty riders raced five laps of the Commonwealth Games course at Lysterfield in hot conditions. Claire Baxter (Hawthorn) was not challenged and won in a comfortable time of 1.38.41. "I felt really calm cool and collected and together," she said. "I got into a pace early." Baxter's name now goes up for selection in the team of three women to represent Australia.
National champion, Emma Colson, Fitzroy left her charge too late and was unable to catch the strong road rider. "Claire was just too strong today," Colson claimed. "I knew I was making ground on her but she just had too much lead." Colson will hope to secure herself a position in the Commonwealth Games team by racing in the second selection race in Mt Beauty, Victoria on January 15.
Third was fellow Victorian, Jenni King from Box Hill. King was passed by Colson in the final laps of the race but rode strongly to finish just one and a half minutes behind Baxter.
Athens Olympian, Lisa Mathison from Brisbane, was visibly disappointed in her first race back after her year long battle with chronic fatigue "I'm just so happy to make it back to this point," she commented. Mathison will now prepare herself for Nationals in January. "I need to do a lot of focusing and a lot of training."
National champion, Chris Jongewaard from South Australia dominated the elite men's race and will now be put up for selection in the Commonwealth Games Team. Fourth at the end of the short starting lap which opened the race, Jongewaard then took the lead in the first full lap by a minute finishing in 1.56.48. "I've done a few things to plan specifically for this race," he admitted. The hot conditions and terrain took their toll on the forty riders. "Towards the end was getting pretty tough on the legs," admitted Jongewaard.
A puncture in the fifth lap saw Olympian, Sid Taberlay lose his second place to another Athens rider, Josh Fleming from Sydney. Fleming finished two minutes behind Jongewaard after a crash in the rocky section saw him lose valuable time. Fleming did record the fastest lap of 16.02 while trying to pull back Jongewaard's lead.
Taberlay from Tasmamia is quietly confident to get a spot on the three man team for the Commonwealth Games. According to National Cross Country Coach, Damien Grundy, "Sid certainly is the most experienced of the senior riders. He is the best performed on the key indicator races which are the World Cup events." Taberlay recently returned to training and found the early pace tough. "I haven't done any speed or intensity," he said. "Í'm only going to get fitter between now and then." Taberlay was pleased to see Jongewaard win. "Chris is going strong. He is really motivated," he added.
For complete results, photos and race report, click here.