Ruby Roseman-Gannon started 2022, her first year as a professional cyclist, by winning the first race of the Lexus of Blackburn Bay Crits, using her powerful sprint to hit the Geelong finish line ahead of her rivals.
Alex Martin Wallace (Sunshine Coast) held off Matilda Raynolds, from the new women's InForm TMX MAKE team, to take second place with the often split field having regrouped to jockey for position before the final laps.
The Lexus of Blackburn team, who the Team BikeExchange-Jayco bound Roseman-Gannon is racing for at the event, was particularly aggressive in the final laps as Grace Brown first pushed the pace at the front and then regular attacks came from Catalina Soto and other to keep the speed high.
“I didn’t know whether I would have it in that last little bit because it was a bit tight around that corner but I really wanted to pull it off because when you have got a rider like Grace Brown riding for you … I can’t let her down. I really appreciate her making it hard on that last lap for me,” said Roseman-Gannon after the race, also pointing to the efforts of her other teammates, Soto, Kerry Jonker and Alana Forster.
The race is the traditional season opener to the Australian summer of racing, returning to the calendar after a break last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event this year is being run over two stages, instead of the normal three, at a course around Geelong’s Eastern Gardens. Saturday’s stage was run clockwise on the 1.9 kilometre course, while on Sunday the direction will be reversed.
It provides a handy hit out for riders ahead of the Australian Road National Championships, which starts on Wednesday January 12 with the time trials and finishes on Sunday January 16 with the elite road races. The battle for the criterium title will take place on Friday, and with this result Roseman-Gannon has shown she is, as usual, a rider to watch closely at the event.
"I think I've got good legs so I hope I can pull it off on the day. It's an itch to scratch as I've been up there for three years now so I really want to win that," added the 23 year old, who came second in the race for the green and gold jersey last year.
The racing at the Bay Crits may have been back this year after being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, but it couldn't escape the impact of the rapid expansion in case numbers in Australia with a small, but still aggressive field on the start line.
Brown, who wore number 1 as she led the Lexus of Blackburn team, went out front alone before the halfway mark and even though it was an early move, given her time trialling strength, it wasn’t one that could be discounted.
There was a group of eight in pursuit, including InForm TMX MAKE’s Raynolds and Ella Bloor. Brown’s teammate Roseman-Gannon also was in the group but certainly wasn’t going to help with the chase. Ultimately Lisa Jacob (Knights of Suburbia) put in the final effort on the front to pull Brown back around 35 minutes into the race, which ran for 50 minutes plus three laps.
It wasn't the end of the splits but ultimately the field was back together before the final three laps, with Brown first picking up the pace and then a series of attacks failing to make ground but keeping the pressure on.
As the finish line and final corners approached Roseman-Gannon moved closer to the front but still had some ground to make up. However once the she ramped up the pace there wasn't a single rider who could hold her wheel.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Team)||Result|
|1||Ruby Roseman-Gannon (Lexus of Blackburn)||0:55:53|
|2||Alex Martin Wallace (Sunshine Coast)|
|3||Matilda Raynolds (InForm TMX MAKE)|
|4||Mathilda Field (Roxsolt Liv SRAM)|
|5||Ella Bloor (InForm TMX MAKE)|
|6||Courtney Sherwell (Roxsolt Liv SRAM)|
|7||Lisa Jacob (Knights of Suburbia)|
|8||Grace Brown (Lexus of Blackburn)||+0:00:03|
|9||Celestine Smith (Brunswick)||0:00:07|
|10||Nicole OH (Sydney Uni Velo)|
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