It was Sarah’s first senior event! The field looked strong and exciting! There was the Netherland’s Annamiek van Vleuten riding for Orica AIS and there was Italy’s Valentina Scandolara, riding for Roxsolt Attaquer. Kimberley Wells, who had won the Australian National Criterium Champion on two occasions, looked to be a strong contender, as did Katrin Garfoot, Australia’s 2016 National Time Trial winner and team mate for Annamiek in Orica AIS.
Saturday’s race was a kermesse around the small town of Longford, about 25km south of Launceston. The pace was red hot from the moment the first cyclist clipped in! A breakaway of five established quickly. It included Katrin Garfoot and Valentina Scandolara. After about three laps of the circuit, they all sat up and waited for the peloton to catch. Shortly after, another breakaway of five formed. Once again it included Katrin and Valentina, but this time Katrin’s team mate, Annamiek van Vleuten, was included. Local NSW talent, Nicola McDonald, also made it into the break.
Kimberley Wells did a lot of work at the front of the peloton, chasing down the breakaway. Finally, after twenty minutes, she succeeded. With just five minutes remaining, Katrin Garfoot took off alone. Her team mate, Annamiek, was at the front of the peloton, controlling the pace. But the other riders had different ideas and coming into the finish line with one lap to go, everyone was together once more.
As the bell rang, it was Annamiek van Vleuten’s turn to rev it up. She took off like a bat out of hell to pick up first place (and five hundred dollars cash), while everyone else sprinted for second place. Valentina managed to win the peloton sprint and second place, while Kimberly Wells picked up third. Sarah pulled out all stops to make up places and came home in tenth position, beating some fine talent too!
Sunday’s race was the Stan Siejka Criterium, around the City Park in the heart of Launceston. A huge crowd gathered, looking for both shade and a decent view, on one of the city’s first hot summer days. The eastern side of the criterium circuit boasted a hill which maxed out at a twenty-one percent gradient!
After the excitement of the Longford Kermesse, expectations were high. However, this criterium was in complete contrast to the kermesse of the day before. Katrin Garfoot of Orica AIS time trialled out front with many of the other Orica AIS riders controlling the peloton. As the race began, so it ended, with Katrin taking a comfortable win. Rebecca Wiasak and Alex Manly picked up second and third places respectively, while young Madeleine Fasnacht was the first Tasmanian home in seventh place. The $5000 prize for first place and the dominance of the Orica AIS team were sure to have affected the race strategy!
Sarah had an exciting first lap and was leading the peloton at the top of the hill but her race became unstuck when she could not access her big chainring for the descent! Oh well, there are only twelve months until the next Stan Siejka Classic! Congratulations to all the girls, both on and off the podium! It was a great weekend!