“It’s showtime!”, calls Lee Turner, through the megaphone at the Shimano Supercrit on a perfect summer’s day. A classy field of seventy-seven elite women’s riders congregate at the start line; the adrenaline is high as the gun goes off for the race start.
The pace is on, with a succession of riders at the front quick to stretch the field, looking for a breakaway. With so many world class riders in the field, it is a difficult act to pull off, but determination is prominent and within five minutes of the start, there is a break.
The three away are Shannon-Malseed, riding for Holden and winner of this year’s National Road Series, Eloise Vaughan, in the blue CBR kit and Minda Murray, riding for Rush Women’s Team.
These three riders are out front for a total of nine minutes; they take the corners with ease compared to the huge amount of jostling going on in the crowded peloton. Tension is high and soon enough, after corner one, along the short straight, there is a small crash affecting the outside riders. No one is seriously hurt, but plenty of riders are slowed by the incident.
The whistle sounds for the first of the sprint primes. Everyone is hungry for $500, and the breakaway group are not going to have it easy. Chloe Hosking accomplishes her first mission by taking out the prime, Matilda Raynolds has to be content with second place and Lauretta Hanson (Rush Women’s Team) races across from the peloton to pick up third.
The peloton is altogether now; everyone is edgy looking for the next move. It comes as a solo attack by Kirsty Deacon (CBR). The race becomes more serious once again as the whistle blows for the second sprint prime. This time Sarah Roy (Orica-Scott, but riding as an individual today) is victorious, with Lauretta Hanson in second and Josie Talbot (Specialised Women’s Racing) third.
Once again, after the prime, the peloton is together. I notice that my daughter, Sarah Gigante, riding as an individual, has mostly been hovering towards the back of the peloton but has moved to fifth wheel. A CBR rider attacks the field. With a 15 meter gap, the peloton chase. As the gap closes and the whistle sounds for another sprint prime, Sarah counter attacks, going into corner one. With steely determination she gives it her best shot, picking up a new personal record on her home course as well as a new maximum heart rate. She comes around corner four with the peloton hot on her heels. With ten meters to the line she still has fresh air behind her, but the head wind is tough and the field is classy. Chloe Hosking pips Sarah at the line with Sarah Roy adding to the close finish.
Once again the peloton are together. There are five laps to go. With a first prize of $3000 cash, everyone is eager. At four laps to go the peloton is surprised by another sprint prime whistle. Go for the sprint prime or go for the end game? There is not much time to think about it and Jemma Eastwood (Knights of Suburbia) makes the most of any indecision. She is off and racing and easily takes out the sprint prime, ahead of Matilda Raynolds and Sharlotte Lucas (RoxsoltAttaquer).
The pace is red hot and the winners of the sprint prime are once again absorbed by the peloton. Coming into the back straight after the bell has sounded at one lap to go, everyone is stretched out in single file. The front straight appears much longer than usual due to the strong head wind. All eyes are glued to the finish line, as Ashlee Ankudinoff (Specialised) shows her class by winning the sprint and the crit against the formidable Chloe Hosking and Kimberley Wells (Holden Women’s Racing.)
Congratulations to all the riders who took part in this challenging race. Thank you to Shimano for sponsoring this great series, KOM Financial Advice for supporting the Elite Women’s Race, as well as St Kilda Cycling Club for hosting a great event.