After the opening women’s stage of the Santos Festival of Cycling, Ruby Roseman-Gannon and BikeExchange-Jayco may not have a stage win under the belt, but that hasn’t stopped the new Women’s WorldTour rider stepping into prime position in the overall standings after some canny accumulation of bonuses during the racing.
Being the fastest at the finish line in Williamstown wasn’t what decided who would take the overall lead; the seconds that came from the sprints during the race after it left Tanunda did instead. Emily Watts (Knights of Suburbia) earned ten bonus seconds after stampeding through the field to take first on the stage, but Ruby Roseman-Gannon already had six seconds from the intermediate sprints to add to the six seconds she earned for second place, leaving Roseman-Gannon in the race lead with a two-second advantage after the first of four days of racing.
“It’s definitely a great start, I know I’ve got good legs, and made a few mistakes today which always hurts when your team really puts it on the line for you, but I’m really excited to keep the momentum rolling and really step it up tomorrow,” said Roseman-Gannon.
Not pulling off the final sprint after two flawless ones during the stage may have left the newly crowned Australian criterium champion “a little bit disappointed”, but despite the fact that Roseman-Gannon did not take out her fourth win of the young season, the team’s performance on stage 1 isn’t going to shake the status of being the one to beat, as it usually is during the Australian summer of racing.
The numbers of team riders out in Australia for the summer are lower than normal this year, but bolstering the three new recruits, Roseman-Gannon, Alexandra Manly and Georgia Baker, is guest rider Amber Pate, who came second in the time trial at the Australian Road National Championships. And while Manly and Baker may have been focused on the track in recent years, they both have previously raced with the Australian squad on the road and so are far from inexperienced.
Manly has already put her strength in a support role on display time and time again this season, helping Roseman-Gannon to the criterium title even though it was just the two of them lining up at Road Nationals and she was also at work again in South Australia on Sunday. Baker, too, was a strong force immediately, taking fifth on the final line and also looking comfortable as she took second in both the intermediate sprints. The time she accumulated also means she is just eight seconds back on the overall, the same time as third-placed Nicole Frain (Roxsolt Liv SRAM).
Longstanding team pillar, Amanda Spratt, has also lined up and even though the three-time winner of the Women’s Tour Down Under – the international race that usually plays out in South Australia at this time of year – is just returning to racing after a scant few weeks of training following Iliac artery endofibrosis, her presence as road captain shouldn’t be underestimated.
Nor should the strength of 23-year-old Roseman-Gannon as the race heads toward what looks set to be another uncharacteristically wet day of racing.
“I like the rain and I like the wind so I’m excited,” she said. “I’ve got a really strong team behind me and I’m really up for the challenge tomorrow. We are going to definitely have it out for us, but I’m going to do everything I can to pull it off and really go after that stage win tomorrow.”
Monday’s stage 2 from McLaren Vale to Echunga takes the riders up the long climb up Peters Creek Road little more than 20km before heading into Figtree climb and a 2.8-kilometer section of dirt as the race heads to the QOM at Prospect Hill. The course then takes in Hahndorf before looping back to Echunga where the riders will cross the line after 85.7km of racing.
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Simone is a degree-qualified journalist that has accumulated decades of wide-ranging experience while working across a variety of leading media organisations. She joined Cyclingnews as a Production Editor at the start of the 2021 season and has now moved into the role of Australia Editor. Previously she worked as a freelance writer, Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and as a correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg. Cycling was initially purely a leisure pursuit for Simone, who started out as a business journalist, but in 2015 her career focus also shifted to the sport.