GreenEdge-AIS has claimed the ultimate prize for Australian women's cycling, taking out the top two steps of the podium in Buninyong, Amanda Spratt and Tiffany Cromwell winning gold and silver in the women's road race. Rachel Neylan claimed the bronze medal, following a duel with Cromwell to the finish line with the pair 45 seconds back from Spratt.
"I knew I had good form coming in, but this is the sort of race you need luck on your side as well and I had that today," Spratt said following her win. "I also had a great team in the GreenEdge-AIS team – the four of us could have been on the top step of the podium but today was my day. I think that's the great thing about this team as well, everyone just backs each other up and that's what you saw today."
Saturday's win makes it two out of two for the new professional team, after Alexis Rhodes won her fourth Australian Criterium Championship on Thursday evening.
Spratt escaped for a leading bunch of 18 riders on the third-last climb of Mount Buninyong. A crash involving Gracie Elvin (Jayco-AIS) and Sue Forsyth helped Spratt's cause, and she was able to get away while her teammates controlled the front of the bunch. Spratt never looked back, with a maximum gain of 1:40 to the chase group.
Jayco-AIS' Sinead Noonan took out the under 23 category, bettering her result from 2011 when she finished as runner-up.
"It's overwhelming," the 19-year-old said of her victory. "I just wanted to stay there. It's a race within a race but I wanted to see what I could do to help my teammates out and just hold onto the under 23 jersey.
"Last year I finished in one of the chasing bunches so to finish in the main race today was really exciting."
Rebecca Werner (Specialized Women SA) claimed silver, and the ACT's Rebecca Henderson the bronze medal.
How it unfolded:
GreenEdge-AIS were the dominant talking point when it came to pre-race favourites with the majority of eyes on Oceania road champion, Shara Gillow. Defending champion, Alexis Rhodes was also considered a serious threat.
The opening lap saw the retirement of Rochelle Gilmore, the Commonwealth Road Champion later tweeting that it was "1 lap too many" while several others were off the back of the main bunch the first time over Mount Buninyong.
An in-form Jessie Maclean (GreenEdge-AIS) staked her claim on the sprint competition, taking the early points on offer while her teammates assumed their position at the head of the bunch. Jayco Bay Cycling Classic winner, Melissa Hoskins buried herself for the GreenEdge-AIS team, as did Rowena Fry with the aim of setting up Spratt, Rhodes or Gillow for the win.
The bunch stayed together for the first half of the race, with Elvin attempting the odd move off the front just after the halfway mark however, was closely marked by Cromwell.
With three laps to go in the 10-lap race, Spratt made her move, at first taking 40 seconds before moving out of sight. The battle of 18 turned into a battle between 12 with Taryn Heather (Jayco-AIS), Carlee Taylor (Jayco-AIS), Cromwell, Carla Ryan, Neylan, Rhodes, Gillow, Miranda Griffiths, Loren Rowney (Specialized – lululemon), Jo Hogan (VIS) and Elvin left to fight it out for the minor medals.
Neylan was the first to jump in pursuit of Spratt on the last climb of the day with Cromwell hot on her heels.
"We decided that she [Spratt] was far enough away so we would work together and then coming into the last kilometre I made Rachel sit on the front," Cromwell told Cyclingnews.
Neylan, who had made it a priority to "look after herself and stay fresh" knew that a serious effort was going to be required as the finish line approached, and was the first to launch the sprint for the minor placings several hundred metres from the tape.
"That was a pretty big effort because Tiff sat on my wheel up there and she had some speed coming off Bay Crits," a relieved Neylan told Cyclingnews. "She [Cromwell] played it tactically better than me. I'm a little bit disappointed that I didn't get the silver but I'm happy with bronze."
Rhodes crossed the line in fourth position while Elvin rounded out the top five. Gillow was seventh, the fourth GreenEdge-AIS rider to finish in the top 10, Maclean was next best in 21st place.
Asked if the result put the pressure on the men to do the same, Spratt and Cromwell were adamant – "Absolutely" they replied in unison.
Cromwell, who joined the Hitek Products-UCK outfit mid-season after severing ties with Lotto-Honda, said that the result was especially exciting because of her frustrating previous 12 months.
"It just gives me confidence," she explained. "I've done a really good training block this off-season because this is an important year, an Olympic year and after last year's trouble I just wanted to show people that I'm back and have not gone anywhere."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Amanda Spratt (NSW)||2:55:22|
|2||Tiffany Cromwell (SA)||0:00:45|
|3||Rachel Neylan (SA)|
|4||Alexis Rhodes (SA)||0:01:30|
|5||Gracie Elvin (ACT)|
|6||Carla Ryan (Vic)|
|7||Shara Gillow (QLD)|
|8||Joanne Hogan (Vic)|
|9||Grace Sulzberger (Tas)|
|10||Taryn Heather (Vic)|
|11||Stephanie Ives (Vic)|
|12||Sinead Noonan (SA) U23|
|13||Miranda Griffiths (Vic)|
|14||Carlee Taylor (SA)|
|15||Lucy Coldwell (Vic)||0:04:41|
|16||Peta Mullens (Vic)|
|17||Loren Rowney (QLD)|
|18||Rebecca Werner (SA) U23||0:06:35|
|19||Rebecca Henderson (A.C.T) U23|
|20||Chloe Mcconville (Vic)|
|21||Jessie Maclean (ACT)|
|22||Katrin Garfoot (QLD)|
|23||India Faehndrich (NSW)|
|24||Lisa Barry (NSW)|
|25||Laura Meadley (ACT)|
|26||Cait Fraser Jones (Vic)|
|27||Chloe Hosking (ACT) U23||0:08:09|
|28||Lauren Kitchen (NSW) U23|
|29||Lisa Jacobs (Vic)||0:08:37|
|30||Jessica Allen (Wa) U23||0:10:32|
|31||Kate Finegan (Vic)||0:12:00|
|32||Jenni King (Vic)|
|33||Therese Rhodes (SA)||0:12:17|
|34||Nicole Moerig (QLD)||0:13:51|
|35||Sue Forsyth (NSW)||0:14:12|
|36||Melina Bernecker (Vic)||0:15:03|
|37||Amy Bradley (Vic)|
|38||Heidi Buntrock (Vic)||0:20:10|
|DNF||Bridie O'Donnell (Vic)|
|DNF||Rebecca Wiasak (ACT)|
|DNF||Rowena Fry (Tas)|
|DNF||Nicole Whitburn (Vic)|
|DNF||Kellie Mathers (Vic)|
|DNF||Elizabeth Hall (Vic)|
|DNF||Megan Bagworth (ACT)|
|DNF||Delphine Astier (Vic)|
|DNF||Carley Mckay (Vic)|
|DNF||Kimberley Wells (ACT)|
|DNF||Emma Mackie (NSW)|
|DNF||Madeleine Pape (Vic)|
|DNF||Belinda Goss (Vic)|
|DNF||Manuela Tzvetanova (QLD)|
|DNF||Victoria Luxton-Bain (Vic)|
|DNF||Nicole Mcnamara (Vic)|
|DNF||Emma Viotto (ACT)|
|DNF||Rochelle Gilmore (NSW)|
|DNF||Marianne Westacott-Clermonts (QLD)|
|DNF||Elizabeth Phillipou (SA)|
|DNF||Alexis Barnes (QLD)|
|DNF||Sarah Riley (Vic)|
|DNF||Rebecca Locke (Vic)|
|DNF||Katherine O'shea (Vic)|
|DNF||Kelly Bartlett (Vic)|
|DNF||Natalie Langer (QLD)|
|DNF||Carly Williams (Vic)|
|DNF||Justyna Lubkowski (Vic)|
|DNF||Kirsty Broun (QLD)|
|DNF||Alexandra Carle (ACT) U23|
|DNF||Ailie Mcdonald (ACT) U23|
|DNF||Alice Wallett (ACT) U23|
|DNF||Melissa Hoskins (Wa) U23|
|DNF||Jasmin Hurikino (QLD) U23|
|DNF||Angela Mcclure (SA) U23|
|DNF||Emma Lawson (Tas) U23|
|DNF||Chloe Mcintosh (Vic) U23|
|DNF||Ashlee Ankudinoff (NSW) U23|
|DNF||Myfanwy Galloway (ACT) U23|
|DNF||Kristy Glover (Vic) U23|
|DNS||Trudy Van Der Straaten (NSW)|
|DNS||Kendelle Hodges (Vic) U23|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Jessie Maclean (ACT)||13||pts|
|2||Amanda Spratt (NSW)||6|
|3||Miranda Griffiths (Vic)||5|
|4||Cait Fraser Jones (Vic)||3|
|5||Taryn Heather (Vic)||3|
|6||Joanne Hogan (Vic)||2|
|7||Katrin Garfoot (QLD)||2|
|8||Tiffany Cromwell (SA)||1|
|9||Carla Ryan (Vic)||1|
|DNF||Nicole Whitburn (Vic)||7|
|DNF||Rebecca Wiasak (ACT)||5|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Carlee Taylor (SA)||10||pts|
|2||Cait Fraser Jones (Vic)||9|
|3||Katrin Garfoot (QLD)||5|
|4||Tiffany Cromwell (SA)||4|
|5||India Faehndrich (NSW)||4|
|6||Taryn Heather (Vic)||4|
|7||Amanda Spratt (NSW)||3|
|8||Gracie Elvin (ACT)||3|
|9||Carla Ryan (Vic)||2|
|10||Laura Meadley (ACT)||2|
|11||Rachel Neylan (SA)||1|
|DNF||Emma Mackie (NSW)||1|