The UCI 1.1-ranked Liberty Classic in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Sunday was the final race in the selection process for Australia's women's Olympic road team, and second place finisher Rochelle Gilmore (Faren Honda) hopes her result will land her a coveted spot on her country's three-rider roster.
In the field sprint finale deciding the Liberty Classic, Gilmore finished behind powerhouse sprinter Ina Teutenberg (Specialized-lululemon) but ahead of reigning world champion Giorgia Bronzini (Diadora-Pasta Zara).
Gilmore has come into good form of late and her Liberty Classic result was her third podium finish in recent weeks, a run which included a third place finish in the opening stage of the Exergy Tour on May 25, preceded by a second place finish in Canada's Grand Prix Cycliste de Gatineau on May 21. Gilmore finished behind sprinters Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Exergy Twenty12) and Teutenberg in Idaho at the Exergy Tour, while also finishing second to Teutenberg in Canada.
"Today was the last selection race for the Olympics and I really wanted to come here and do well," said Gilmore. "I had a bit of organising to do at the last minute to come here, it was a huge expense for my team to come. I'm really grateful for my two Italian riders and one Australian rider for coming. I couldn't start the race without three teammates, teams need a minimum of four, so I really owe it to them to be on the start line today."
The Liberty Classic was the final event of a North American journey for the Italian-based Aussie and Gilmore hopes the great effort will result in the first Olympic Games of her career.
"The organisers put us in really late and we also had to pick up a manager here in America at the last minute and a mechanic from Cadence. It took a lot of really hard work to get here but I wanted to do it for the cause of making the Olympic selection.
"I believe they're going to make their decision this week [for the Olympic team]. I've really come into form these past few weeks, probably the only Australian to get on the podium, and I've done that three times with the best sprinters in the world. Hopefully it's enough to say I'm one of the fastest sprinters and I really want the opportunity to represent Australia and see if I can get on the podium in London."
A start in London at the Olympic Games would cap off a remarkable comeback after Gilmore suffered a serious crash in a stage of the women's Tour of Italy in July of last year. Gilmore sustained multiple fractures of the pelvis, a small fracture in her spine, and three broken ribs, yet recovered quickly enough to return to racing in the latter portion of the 2011 season.
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