BikeExchange-Jayco may have started the Santos Festival of Cycling with a clear winning objective – as Australia’s only WorldTeam it really couldn't be any other way – but there was reason for rivals to hope they may be able to find some weaknesses to exploit. The team was integrating a new group of riders, who had yet to race together on the road, alongside an established road captain only just returning to racing following surgery.
Three days in, though, there were no weaknesses to be found as their ever attentive team leader, neo-pro Ruby Roseman-Gannon, swept toward the line in first place after each member of the squad had stepped up to play their role to perfection – right from the hard-working stagiaire Amber Pate, to the break squashing Amanda Spratt and the final sprint lead out team of Alex Manly and Georgia Baker.
Roseman-Gannon's stage 3 victory secured the overall as well and the new combination of BikeExchange-Jayco riders struck a winning note that resonated beyond those at the South Australian racing.
"To be honest I think it's the best way we can start the season,” Gene Bates, sport director at BikeExchange-Jayco told Cyclingnews. “Obviously, we have a large contingent of riders in Europe at the moment that have just finished the training camp in Spain and so those riders are seeing what we're doing in Australia. It kick starts things in a really positive way."
It may not have been a race full of top international teams and longer course lengths, with the NRS classified road series replacing the cancelled 2.Pro ranked event again this year, but there was no diminishing the drive to win on home soil for the team, particularly after a 2021 where that winning feeling seemed a reluctant and occasional visitor.
Not that it was ever going to be easy against the domestic teams, mostly stronger in numbers, who had worked hard towards peaking for the Australian summer of racing. There were also a number of other factors at play for BikeExchange-Jayco to make it a challenging task. Spratt had just returned to training late December after nine weeks off the bike following surgery for iliac artery endofibrosis, Manly and Baker were only just stepping back in to the team and road racing after years of focussing on the track plus Roseman-Gannon was facing up to the immediate pressure of team leadership in her first season as a professional.
Still, right from the start she was in the lead after taking second place on the stage and time bonuses in both of the opening two days. However, while clearly expressing her satisfaction at being at the top of the overall after stage 2, Roseman-Gannon left little doubt that she wanted to finish the job over the line as well to repay all the hard work of her teammates. When it all came together on the final day out on the road, stage 3, it was what she described as the ‘dream day’.
The opportunity to throw her arms in the air in celebration of victory reflected the progress of the squad over the tour. The team held firm during the attack heavy stage 3 with unsealed surfaces and a climb to overcome just two kilometres before the finish line and then delivered a flawless run into the line. Pate drove the pace, then Manly and finally Baker before Roseman-Gannon launched to clinch a clear win.
“I think it’s really cool that we could execute some of the lead out skills that we need at a WorldTour level, which will obviously be a lot more challenging with more teams with greater depth in that lead out scenario,” said Roseman-Gannon. “So I think it is a great opportunity to get a little bit of practice in but yeah I think it is going to be a jump in the deep end in Europe. But I’m excited to work with my teammates and hopefully deliver some more wins,”
The racing in South Australia and during the weeks before also confirmed what a valuable and versatile new signing the 23-year-old Roseman-Gannon could prove to be for the team as she develops and becomes accustomed to the WorldTour pelotons.
"I really think that she's quite unlimited at this stage. It would be quite easy to pigeon hole her as a fast finisher but I think just watching her over the last month of racing in Australia she is certainly more than that and can offer a great deal more,” Bates said.
“I think she certainly shows a lot of potential across a range of areas, not only just fast finishes or slightly uphill peaks."
Roseman-Gannon clearly isn’t losing focus on the path ahead, as even when she was asked how she was going to savour the achievement of winning stage 3 and the overall at the Santos Festival of Cycling on Tuesday after coming down from the podium, the next goals were clearly on her mind.
“It’s a small stepping stone on the journey for a long season ahead so I think we will definitely be celebrating, but it’s game on tomorrow,” Roseman-Gannon said, referring to the upcoming criterium in the heart of Adelaide.
The Trek Night Riders Criterium on Wednesday evening, completes the four days of racing for the women while also signalling the start of four days of racing for the men.
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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.