By Ben Abrahams in Aldinga Beach
After one victory apiece in the opening rounds, the battle between Belinda Goss and two-time champion Jenny MacPherson came right down to the wire, with MacPherson mastering the blustery conditions to claim her second win of the series and third straight overall title.
Once all team tactics had played out, a straight-up sprint decided the series winner. MacPherson crossing the line on Aldinga Beach's Esplanande over a bike length clear of Goss to draw level on points and steal the overall victory on countback.
"Bloody fantastic!" beamed the 29 year-old Victorian. "The girls worked really well today, we were out there to be aggressive and make Belinda chase everything down and she did to her credit. It came down to a sprint anyway and I just managed to find extra legs at the end knowing there was a jersey up for grabs for the third time."
Goss' Hitatchi racing team mates did everything to set up their leader for a bunch sprint, dragging back multiple attacks from MacPherson's AIS squad. "It was a long hard day out there today," said Goss. "The AIS girls did everything. They had girls going down the road pretty much every lap so it was a really hard day."
Crossing the line behind Goss was 18 year-old Victorian Peta Mullens. The youngster also claiming third overall after placing fifth and second in the opening two races. "I've only been back on the bike for a short time and I've been working on my sprint," said a delighted Mullens, barely old enough to enjoy the bottle of vintage Shiraz presented to her by race commentator Stewart Doyle. "I was suffering a bit today with all the attacks going on but I'm glad it came down to a bunch sprint."
For a full report, results and photos from Stage 3 of the UniSA Women's Criterium Series here.