This year’s Under 19 National Championships were held in Victoria, based around the coastal city of Geelong. We were treated to three days of glorious sunshine in the middle of winter. I saw Taswegians in shorts and a T-shirt while, as always, the Queenslanders wore their full winter rig!
The first event was the time trial. The TT included two hilly laps of the You Yangs National Park as well as an almost flat ride along Branch Road, outside the park.
Sarah was pretty excited as I recently bought her a dedicated time trial bike. In theory, its aerodynamics should have carved a decent chunk of time off her time trial effort. Unfortunately, the fact that we had a 53 front chainring, not a 52, had somehow escaped Sarah and my notice in the preparation for the event, most likely due to a hectic week of exams and visits to the bike shop in the week prior! Luckily, she went to roll out (a check that requires the bike to not cover more than 7.93 m in one revolution of the pedals) about forty minutes before her event. This put our mechanical skills under time pressure and we managed a complete bike change! We took the clincher wheels off the road bike, the tubular wheels off the TT bike, the TT wheels back on the road bike, the transponder off the TT bike and back on the road bike, mounted clip on bars to the road bike, changed the Garmin mount across and removed the bottle cages. It was real team effort with the lovely Jenson from Hawthorn helping out, even though he had his own TT to prepare.
Then, with Sarah staying cool and calm throughout the process, there was still time to roll out legally, achieve an altered warm up and then it was off for a hard 17.7 kilometers. Sarah put in a fantastic ride. She could see she was catching Sophie from SA on the hill circuit inside the park, but once they were out on the road Sophie, in full TT set up, was pulling away at a constant rate. Sarah came home in fourth place, 22 seconds off Sophie who finished in third position, and one minute 37 sec down on the leader, the magnificent Madeleine Fasnacht from Tasmania. Anya Louw, also from Tasmania, rode her way into a silver medal, finishing one minute five seconds down on Maddie, and ten seconds up on Sophie. Maddie’s average time was 37.3 kilometers per hour, a fantastic effort for a hilly and technical course.
The next day was the road race, which was based around the Brisbane Ranges and started and finished in the small town of Anakie. The whole field knew that Madeleine was the wheel to watch and follow.
Everyone figured that Madeleine would break away early, as she had made an early solo breakaway at Oceanias in March , which resulted in a very solid first place. Sure enough, at a long steep hill at the 22 kilometer mark, Madeleine was putting the pressure on the field when Maeve Moroney-Plouffe from SA, in second wheel, began to lose touch. Sarah was sitting in fourth wheel, and seeing the gap opening, knew that she could not let Maddie go. So somehow she put in an enormous effort and flew off up the hill behind Maddie. There were a lot of strong riders in the front part of the field, but no one else took off to join them.
And so it was that at the 35k mark, from where we were spectating, we saw, behind an enormous convoy of about forty police motorbikes (the race had the whole road), two riders way in the distance. I declared I could see a touch of green (Sarah’s green helmet) and our little crowd became very excited! We were even more excited when we realised that Sarah was with Maddie!
Forty seconds after Sarah and Maddie came through, the peloton arrived. They were working hard, with Anya at the front, and looked to be putting in a good chase. Soon after the girls passed through, we spectators made our way back to the race finish, where the race commentary told us that the break had decreased to 28 seconds. Then, at the next update, we were told the break had extended to two minutes. We grinned wildly; it looked like Sarah and Maddie would stay away!
Sarah told us later that even though she was flat out from the time the break went, she was determined to stay with Maddie for just one more hill. And one more hill after that as well. She managed to do this many times, until the 50 kilometer mark, where Maddie simply pulled away and Sarah was left to time trial the last 16 kilometers home, knowing, thanks to the moto scouts, that a group of nine riders were hot on her heels!
Ten minutes before the predicted finish time, a happy Madeleine arrived at the finish line, with Sarah nowhere in sight. It was back to a nervous wait, until we saw a solo rider, way in the distance. And, yes, I could spot the green; it was Sarah, claiming silver, and still a good minute in front of the peloton. Then, a minute later, the peloton arrived completely split up from the last steep ascent, six kilometres from the finish line. It was a fantastic ride by Queensland cyclist and triathlete, Caitlin Broadley, who, in her fourth ever road race, powered home to take the bronze. She had attacked on the 400 metre-long hill and soloed home. Then it was a spread out sprint finish, with Alexandra Martin-Wallace (Qld) and Anya Louw taking out fourth and fifth respectively.
The final event was a criterium held at Eastern Beach in Geelong. The criterium was thirty minutes and three laps long, with each lap including a short and steep hairpin at the eastern end. Everyone was keen to see if the highly talented Maddie could make it three gold from three events!
Despite her efforts to recover from the road race the day before, Sarah claimed that she had woken up with ‘dead legs’. However, as always, Sarah loves a criterium and is never one to throw away an opportunity. For most of the thirty minutes she marked Maddie, sitting close by or on her wheel. Right from the start, the attacks were on. Alexandra Martin-Wallace began the series of attacks, Georgia O’Rourke from Victoria put in a solid attack midway and Renee Dykstra (Tas) also put in a serious attack in the later stages, but each attack was reeled in. I thought Sarah looked a little tired, as she was sometimes drifting to the back of the pack, but then, after sitting second wheel for just over a lap, with half a lap to go, I saw her move up along the outside and race up the hill for the 250 metre sprint to the line. It was a nailbiter, with four riders neck and neck as they sprinted for the line. It was a double photo finish, with track riders Jade Haines (WA) and Alexandra Martin-Wallace deciding first and second while Sarah and Maddie were a very close third and fourth. The final podium was gold to Jade, silver to Alex and bronze to Sarah! It was an exciting finish to three great days of racing!
We all went home invigorated with the depth and quality of this field of Under 19 girls. We look forward to watching from afar as a few of these girls compete at Junior Worlds in September this year.
It was a week of perfect autumn weather. Gorgeous sun-bathed days and calm winds made for perfect riding conditions. But it was also a week where I frequented the Bureau of Meteorology site on numerous occasions. Each time the report was the same: Sunday, Mt Baw Baw, cold, rain, sleet and snow above 1200 meters. Thunderstorms and weather warnings in place. I kept wishing for the change in weather conditions to pass early or arrive late but the Sunday forecast, no matter how often I looked at it, remained the same.
I frequented my local bike shop and stocked up on some wet weather gear for Sarah. An under helmet beanie, a windproof head band, glove liners (I did not even know these existed!) and a semi-clear rain jacket for over her jersey. Knowing Sarah’s usual jersey-and-knicks-does-the-trick mindset, I was pretty sure she would not wear any of it, but I felt it was important to be over-prepared rather than under-prepared.
The day started early with a drive from our home to the country town of Warrugal. We arrived just in time for registration and jumped out of the car alongside a fellow club member, Craig, who proceeded to give Sarah a run-down of the event. The words replayed in my mind.. three tricky descents…you can go 100km/hr…the road will be wet..there will be leaves…the leaves will be slippery….Vespers Hill will be hard…there will definitely be snow..you will be exhausted by the time you hit the mountain..split the mountain into three stages..the middle stage has orange posts..there are twenty orange posts..count them..post letters if you need..put your brain into neutral..just get up the beast!
At the start line, the commissaire’s words were a little unusual. “We are not yet sure where the race will end due to the severe weather. Maybe at the top of Baw Baw or maybe earlier! We will let you know as the race progresses.”
My son Scott had decided to come with us, and as we drove off to the feed station at Noojee, the radio station announced that there were severe weather warnings in place for the whole of Victoria. All Victorians were recommended to stay inside for the afternoon!
At Noojee, which was about 50km into the race, we watched each of the groups come through. Mens A, B and C had splintered into many groups, with large time differences within grades. Then Masters B came through, which had started after Women’s A. Finally we saw the lead car from Women’s A. Both Scott and I grinned from one ear to the other as we spotted Sarah’s green helmet and socks come through behind the lead car, with no one else in sight! To my knowledge, Sarah’s pre-race plan did not include a solo breakaway, but she looked strong and appeared to be managing the cold and wet with aplomb.
After watching the peloton come through some two minutes later, it was back into a long line of cars for us, all making our way towards Baw Baw. Slowly, some of the Women’s A riders began to drop off as we reached Vespers Hill. Nine hundred meters into the eight percent, four kilometer climb, Sarah was caught by the leading group of five riders, which included Lisen Hockings, Kate Perry, Justine Barrow, Shannon Malseed and Jemma Eastwood. With Lisen, the 2017 Oceania Road Race Champion, driving the pace at the front, Sarah, and soon after, Jemma, dropped off as the other four riders soon raced out of sight. Sarah was solo, but as riders began to catch her, she was about half way through the field, with riders strung out both in front and behind her. Finally there was a small downhill and Sarah and one other managed to speed past the convoy of cars and join a group of three who then rode together towards Tanjil Bren, at the base of Baw Baw.
Occasionally, when the roads were less windy, we caught sight of two Women’s A riders just ahead. Kirsty Deacon, who was riding in Sarah’s group of five, saw them too and determinedly set off to catch them; she disappeared out the front and our admiration for all these riders, braving both the weather and the aggressive race, went up a notch (if that was possible.)
After crossing Big Tree Creek, it was on to meet the beast itself. Sarah’s group quickly splintered and soloed their way up the mountain, with Sarah at the back. A Leongatha masters rider was rocking dangerously as both he and Sarah wrestled for both road and mountain. Dangerously close, I thought they would knock each other out, and we held our breath as the Leongatha rider finally wriggled ahead. About one third of the way up one of the girls in front of Sarah popped and began posting letters both right and left of the road in an effort not to dismount.
Our in-car applause and esteem for all riders continued to mount as the rain turned to sleet. The gradient was horrendous and the weather was a superb match. I was a little relieved when the sleet turned to snow. Any improvement in the conditions was better than none. In the last one kilometer Sarah pulled back one other rider from her group to pass through the finish line in ninth position and twenty-two minutes behind the race winner, Lisen Hocking, from Holden Cycling. Lisen had broken away up the final climb and soloed to a comfortable victory, 49 seconds ahead of second place, Justine Barrow from Rush Women’s Team. Shannon Malseed, also from Holden, took third place honours a further minute back.
Congratulations to every rider who competed in the Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort Classic Race. You are all champions!
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!
Sarah and her Vic cycling mates were very fortunate to have the National Junior Road Cycling Championships in Bendigo this year. It was Sarah’s last junior road event, and, like many of the field, she was keen to give it her very best effort.
The first event was the 14k time trial, held on Friday. Sarah was seeded eighth, and after her journey began I took my usual walk along the time trial course. Two to three kilometres in, I cheered Sarah home. I could tell that she had definitely caught time on the girl in front of her, but I thought she was roughly even with her Tasmanian friend Anya, who had been seeded tenth. The girls seeded in front of Sarah were coming past me in roughly one minute intervals, excepting Blackburn’s Jemma, who, at second seed, had overtaken third seed. It was clear that Jemma would win the time trial, but the other placings were impossible to estimate. Second place went to Sophie from SA while Lauren from ACT was given third. Sarah just missed out on the podium, picking up fourth place, and only three seconds ahead of Anya, in fifth position.
Saturday’s road race was in Eaglehawk, an outer suburb of Bendigo. It was 64km long, consisting of ten laps of a 6.4km circuit. Sarah stayed cool and calm when she suffered a puncture a few minutes before the race start. Of course, her mother ran around like a crazy chook, looking for a new race wheel donation from one of the just finished U17 boys. (Thank you, Conor from Bendigo!) With the new wheel on, the race began. There were plenty of attacks, but most attacks were quickly shut down. Finally, with about two and a half laps to go, Jemma made her customary getaway on an uphill segment. The peloton chased hard up the hill but Jemma’s hill climbing skills have to be seen to be believed! Jemma’s lead extended over the remaining two laps, and the peloton prepared themselves for a bunch sprint to the line for silver. Sarah was sitting in a position which dictated her to either go early, or be boxed in, so she sprinted earlier than she would have liked. It was a great effort for a very long sprint. Once again, Sarah had picked up fourth place, with Sophie from SA picking up her second silver medal and Alex from Queensland receiving bronze.
So Sunday arrived. A new beginning, a new race; the criterium. I could see Sarah’s thought bubbles: “No fourth place today.” Within a minute of arriving at the circuit, we saw one of the U17 boys go down. By the time we had walked to the next corner, we had witnessed our second crash. Not good. I hoped the safety statistics would improve. The crit was 25 minutes long, plus a further six laps. Kate from Hawthorn had a 1 lap getaway but she was reeled back in. Sophie from SA attacked, Claire and Alex from Queensland attacked, and Sarah also attacked, but none of these attacks were significant. Sarah was waiting for Jemma to make a move out front and both she and Alex tussled for Jemma’s wheel. Jemma took the front for a good six laps, but she did not breakaway. (‘It was not the plan’, she told me after the race.) Coming into the last lap everyone was fighting for a good position. Sarah knew exactly where she wanted to be, and coming into the last corner, she was sitting in second place. The sprint was on, and, finally, in Sarah’s very last Junior Road National race, she scored herself a medal of the bronze variety! The quinella went to Queensland, with Alex first and Claire second.
Congratulations to Sarah and all the Under 17 girls. You girls rock!
The school holidays finished with a bang at Eildon, where Blackburn Cycling Club held the last of the Victorian Junior Road tours, prior to States in August. It was the end of an era, with Sarah attending her thirty-first and final junior tour! Along the way we have made so many friends, had so much fun and loved each and every tour! Many thanks to the wonderful volunteers at Ararat, Bendigo, Blackburn and Shepparton clubs, as well as our fantastic Northern Combine with its three day junior tour, and the interstate clubs of Central Districts (SA), Wagga (NSW) and our beloved Canberra!
The Eildon tour saw Sarah pick up a win in the Time Trial, placing her 15 seconds ahead of the lovely Jemma, who had no trouble picking up the lost time while heading up the dam wall in Race One and over Skyline in Race Two. Sarah finished the tour in second place, with Jemma first. Starting as a bottom age Under 13, Sarah has finished this tour in second place five times! That elusive first place will have to wait until seniors!
Thank you to Peter and Helen, who shared their beautiful home with us for the weekend!
Lights, Canberra, Action! The Canberra Junior Tour is one of the best junior tours in the country, and, as always, we had a fabulous time! With 27 entries in the Under 17 women’s category, including seven entries from New Zealand and a depth of field arriving from all the eastern states, it was impossible to pre-select who the favourites might be.
The first event was the race of truth, the time trial. Riders departed every 30 seconds for fifteen kilometers of maximum effort. Sarah‘s departure time was early in the event. She overtook a NSW friend early and then caught some time on a fellow Victorian, but it was impossible to judge how well she went compared to others who departed later. So we were very happy when the results came out with Sarah in third place, behind Claire from Queensland and a young Kiwi girl, Mckenzie.
The afternoon road race was 38 km long. Uliara Crossing involves a long, steep descent with an acute turn at the bottom onto a narrow dilapidated bridge. Dodgy in the best of conditions, everyone aims to be first in the pack, to avoid being caught up in another rider’s errors. But being first involves going fast, and that alone can bring a rider down. All the girls made it through safely, to start the huge ascent for the first Queen of the Mountain. QOM honours went to Claire, followed by a Kiwi rider. Then there was fresh air to a group of four, followed by Sarah in a group of five. Eventually these three groups rejoined, but split again at the next QOM on the return journey, this time with Claire emerging solo at the top of the long, steep hill. Claire worked alone to return victorious to the finish line, with a group of four Kiwis vying for second place, followed by Sarah in the third bunch, in eighth position.
At the end of Stage 2 Sarah was sitting fifth overall, only 20 seconds out from second overall, with Claire having over 50 seconds on the field.
Stage 3 on the Sunday involved a 52 km road race, through Uliara Crossing and beyond. Unlike Saturday, the weather was cold and wet. It was Canberra’s first rain in two months and the roads were slippery. Not good. One girl went down at the Crossing, and this time I was not in the lead car, but waiting, worried, (I knew there had been a crash) back at the stadium finish. After the first QOM, the Kiwis played their trump card and formed a wall across the road. They waited for Mckenzie, who had dropped off on the hill, to catch, allowed her through the wall, and then the peloton, including the yellow jersey holder, Claire,watched as Mckenzie and the lead car disappeared out of sight together. It was really difficult to get through the wall, but eventually Claire managed to get through. Sarah encouraged Claire to chase, as her yellow jersey was at risk, but every time Claire had a go, she was irritated by the NZ riders sitting on her wheel, and her chase would halt. Sarah’s goal was to hang on at every hill, and although she did drop off, she always managed to chase back on. Even when Sarah’s chain fell off and became jammed, with help required from a follow car driver, she again managed to chase back on.
Back at the stadium I watched Mckenzie come in two minutes ahead of the field. I was very relieved to see Sarah’s orange helmet appear over the rise at the top of the crit course. She was sitting eighth in an eight rider sprint for second place. Sarah’s friend, Alana, took out sprint honours and second place, with Sarah hot on her heels, contesting third, but missing it by a tyre width and picking up fourth place. A great effort!
The final stage was the Criterium. Wet. cold and slippery. I simply wanted all the girls upright! The commentator did not help, with Collarbone Corner brought to our attention each lap. After 25 minutes, there were two laps to go and Sarah was sitting at the back of the large field. A dangerous place to be..I had memories of her crashing at Road Nationals. Move forward I urged…Sarah never hears me, but she did exactly that, and somehow, with half a lap to go, she was leading the field. The leader of the field rarely wins the Crit, but, hey, it is the safest place, and exciting to watch as well! The girls came at her and she managed another photo finish for third place, but once again had to settle on fourth. A grand effort, and all riders upright!
The overall tour placings put Mckenzie first, followed by Claire, then another two Kiwi girls and Sarah in fifth place. Many thanks to Peter Blackshaw, who sponsor this great tour, and all the Canberra volunteers, who make this event such a racing highlight.
Three days of sunshine in the Victorian Alps – magic!
Swimming under the stars, in the Ovens River, with a platypus for company…okay, it was a little cold – but magic!
Catching up with interstate friends – magic!
And then there was the magic that is the Alpe d’Buffalo!
Saturday was the time trial. The Under 17 girls were travelling 9.5 kilometers, including 428 meters of altitude, with each rider sent one minute apart. The National Mountain Climbing Time Trial honours went to our Tasmanian friend Anya, with an impressive time of 22 and a half minutes. In second place was Jemma, who, I believe, was born with hills in her legs…and hot on Jemma’s heels, 1.1 seconds behind, was Sarah!
Sunday was the road race. At 8am the mountain air was fresh, but with a 1300m climb from the bottom of Buffalo, all jackets were left in my lead car, and it was race on! The first few kilometers were almost uneventful, with a slow steady climb and only one rider falling away from the group. But as the race went up the mountain, the pace continually picked up and soon riders were being dropped off the back at a regular rate. With about 15 km to go the front group had been reduced to five riders, Anya, Jemma, Sarah and two Queenslanders. Jemma then put in an attack and it was Jemma and Sarah out front. Three minutes into the attack the commissaires car rolls up alongside Sarah and Jemma, and states, “You have 40 seconds!” “What?” say the girls, in disbelief. But Sarah says Jemma attacked hard..and chatted while she was doing it! Sarah managed to hang with Jemma for another four kilometers or so and then it was Sarah’s turn to be left behind. Jemma methodically made her way to the finish line, without a backwards glance, along the way overtaking many of the Under 15 boys, who started earlier. So the final result was Jemma in one hour 15 minutes, Sarah in second place, four minutes 56 seconds behind, and Anya, just beating Sophie to the line, and eight and a half minutes behind Jemma.
Congratulations to all the girls…special mention to Edie who was not well but still managed to complete both the time trial and road race.
Many thanks to the Alpine Cycling Club for once again hosting such a fabulous event. Sarah has attended for the past four years and it has always been the highlight of our cycling year. We were very sad to hear that Buffalo will not be home to the Junior Mountain Climbing Champs in 2017. Hopefully, it will return to Buffalo in the not too distant future.
It had been two years since our last visit to the beautiful Barossa Valley for the South Australian Junior Tour. It was a school weekend, but Anzac Day made it a long one, and with entry deadlines appearing, we decided to go and it was race on! The weather for the weekend was stunning and the scenery, as always in the Barossa, was superb.
The South Australians are great at looking after us interstate people, so when Sarah’s Garmin would not turn on shortly before the race start, Sarah was handed a loan Garmin. Thanks Mike and Olivia! The first race was 40 km which was two laps of a 20k circuit. The Queen of the Mountain was a short climb up the back of the renowned Menglers Hill. Emily from WA quickly made her presence known with the first QOM. Olivia (SA) came over second and Sarah, for whom the hill was too short and too early in the race, was a short distance behind in third. Rolling hills followed and Sarah managed to close the gap between herself and the front two. When the hill came around the second time, Emily again won the QOM, and this time with Sarah in second, the two riders made the break from Olivia. Emily and Sarah continued out front with Olivia on her own, just a short distance behind. At the race end Emily took the sprint from Sarah with Olivia coming home in third place.
Race two began just over an hour after the first race ended…or less, if you finished further up the field! This race was 30 km and was the real deal, with the front face of Menglers Hill. Menglers Hill is a beast of a climb, about four kilometers long, and averaging a 9.96% gradient. Emily again showed her hill climbing strength, leading the pack with Sarah, Olivia and Brooklyn (SA) following on her wheel. About sixty percent of the way through the climb, Sarah dropped off Emily’s wheel and Emily opened up a fifteen meter gap on the three girls. This was huge, given the gradient of the hill. However, the gap remained steady and did not increase. About eighty percent of the way up, Sarah found some renewed energy and closed the gap to about five meters with Olivia taking over and closing the rest of the gap. Finally the QOM sign appeared and there was Sarah sprinting alongside Emily and taking the QOM..amazing to see, I was sure that Sarah had ‘popped’ half way up! (I should never underestimate Sarah in a bike race!)
The race finished with another sprint between Sarah and Emily; this time Sarah took line honours. Third place was a sprint between Olivia and Brooklyn. So after two stages Sarah and Emily were completely tied on time, to the exact second, with Olivia sitting in third place.
Sunday morning involved two laps of a 25km circuit. Sarah was three points behind Emily in the QOM, and this time Emily looked determined to not have any QOM points taken from her. Having stayed in her seat for all the previous hill climbs, Emily stood out of the seat and set an aggressive pace. Olivia and Brooklyn were riding hard and only Sarah looked calm, sitting at the back of the other three. At the QOM Emily was still out front and Sarah had moved to second place. The pace was still red hot and I was sure that someone in the group of four would ‘pop’. On the descent Sarah managed to get away and she spent some solo time out front. Olivia also spent solo time out front, but both girls were caught each time. Before the final QOM at the beginning of lap two, Emily had been dropped and Sarah picked up the QOM. The race finish involved a three way sprint, with Brooklyn picking up first place, Sarah second and Olivia third.
With the time trial to go, Sarah was sitting in first place, 59 seconds in front of Olivia, and 2 min 30 seconds in front of Emily. Olivia’s strength lay in the time trial. Olivia put in a great effort and picked up 40 seconds on Sarah, leaving Sarah with a 19 second overall win. Emily picked up third place overall, and won the QOM by one point from Sarah.
All the JW17s raced well and were exciting to watch from my position in the lead car. Unfortunately, the weekend was marred by a crash in the Under 17 boys and our thoughts are with Angus and his family. Hugs, Angus! Get well soon!
Every Christmas holidays we have the Great Debate: A holiday by the sea or a cycle racing ‘holiday’? Attempting to satisfy both requirements, we booked an apartment at Brighton-Le-Sands, 100 meters from the beach, just south of Sydney, and within easy driving distance of four different velodromes.
In NSW, at the Christmas Carnivals, the Junior 17 riders race against the seniors. This was a definite incentive for Sarah to attend. Being placed in Women’s A was the cream on the cake!
And so our Christmas Carnival week began. A leisurely wake up, time at the beach, early dinner and then on to race and race and race!
With five carnivals and six races at each one, Sarah had an absolute ball! (In theory there were five events, the last being a choice between a super Italian pursuit, or similar endurance race, and the nightly Madison..but Sarah always lined up and selected both events!)
Every rider has a favorite event; Sarah likes any event that is long or hard, (or preferably long and hard). One such race was the ‘Miss and Out’. The women were divided into three groups. The front markers (a group of seven) lined up a lap ahead of the back markers (a group of six) with Sarah in a group of four middle markers, 170 meters in front of the back markers and 170m behind the front markers. Each group began as a team pursuit, with two free laps and then the last rider of the race eliminated each lap. So, if your group did not catch the group in front, all of your group would be eliminated, one at a time. Sarah’s group fell apart from the start, but Sarah and one other brave soul worked hard to try and catch the front markers, while staying away from the faster back markers who were being eliminated behind them, one lap at a time. Eventually these two made it across to the first group and had one easy lap before the relatively fresh front marker eliminations began. The nine women became two; Sarah and Emily Watts, an endurance rider who had began in the front group. Sarah sat on Emily’s wheel and, with 100 meters to go, found some extra juice in the tank to take Emily at the line! What a race!
The last race of each night was a 10km Madison. Sarah teamed up with her Sydney friend, Ashlee Jones, to form team Brunswick. Sarah and Ashlee were both the youngest team and one of two women’s teams, competing against a fast men’s field. If they were lapped they were eliminated from the race and stripped of handicap points. Each night these two girls kept improving their Madison turns, and each night they were eliminated at a later stage of the race (excepting night four where they finished with the bunch..but that’s another story!) It was great to watch!
Finally, thirty races later, it was off to the surf and a day off the bike. 🙂 Then it was on the road to Echuca, to contest the Victorian Points Race Title. I guess it was not the greatest preparation for a State Race…we drove from 7am to 4pm! Sarah packed in another eight races over two days, and picked up the Vic Points Race Championship as well!
Finally we were home. But done with racing? Oh, no! It was the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic. So, off to Williamstown we went.Sarah raced with the boys and stayed in the bunch for the whole of the criterium. After the race, when asked by the commentator if she was going to attack the boys at the race end, she told the crowd, “I had nothing left in the tank!” Ah ha, finally Sarah, you are done!
Happy New Year everyone, and, if you are still reading this far on, thanks!
‘Like seagulls gathering sparse crumbs at a lavish picnic’…that is the only way I can describe the search for points in the Junior Women’s 17 category, at the latest round of the National Junior Track Series, held in Melbourne this past weekend.
With a strong contingent of Under 19 girls, particularly from Queensland and South Australia, the Under 19 girls were sure to haul in the bulk of the points in the J17-19 racing.
Lady Luck was involved in the first element of the game. With mostly only one rider progressing through to the final, my J17 was crossing both fingers (and toes) that she did not come across a big J19 gun in her heats. But with many excellent J19 riders in the mix, many J17s, Sarah included, had to be content with multiple tough heats; making it through to the final was success in itself.
Having achieved a final’s berth, the J17 rider then had to pull out her best racing legs and her best racing strategy, all in the hope of achieving a little success in what was essentially a J19 race!
Sarah’s best racing included the ‘Win and Out’, (no points, but she had an amazing go against the best of the J19s) and Saturday’s elimination where she finished third, with J19 racers taking first, second, fourth and fifth places.
All of the J17 girls rose to the challenge..I am proud of all of them!