By James Finch-Penninger @FishysCP
BrakeDown Podcast founder
Kate Perry emerged triumphant in the Mersey Valley Tour after being impressively consistent over the three stages. Her 2nd place on the first day gave her an advantage on her main rivals for the podium, with 4th place on the hillier 2nd and 3rd stages allowing her to claim the general classification victory.
The 2nd behind Bridie O?Donnell (Total Rush) in the first stage in the 16.3 kilometre time trial gave Perry an advantage on her main climbing rivals for the title, with the former hour record holder unlikely to keep pace with the big favourites over the climbs to come. The rider from Specialized Women?s Racing spoke to Peloton Caf? after the final stage.
?I think with the results from today and yesterday, in hindsight it actually was decided in that time trial. That headstart was really important, I had a few seconds on Miranda Griffiths (Holden) and a decent advantage over the High 5 team.?
Perry spoke about the challenge of taking on the High 5 Dreamteam squad, which has been the premier team for the past two seasons and now faces more competition from its rivals, led by the Specialized Womens Racing squad.
?I think in terms of numbers we were actually fairly even, we both had four starters, it?s just that they are all really good climbers. Unfortunately they lost Georgia Baker on one of the descents and Tessa (Fabry) had also come down. I think yesterday we rode really well as a team, looking out for each other and working to a plan. It?s probably one of the first times we?ve ridden together at a race, and they all did a great job out there. Our guest rider, Maddy Wright from Albury had a great ride in her first NRS event, especially today and yesterday.?
After maintaining her first stage advantage with a 4th on the same time of stage winner Lisen Hockings (High 5), Perry went into the final stage with the leader?s jersey and the pressure of keeping it on her shoulders through the last day of competition. A spanner was thrown in the works when Tessa Fabry broke away early on, and despite being covered by Perry?s teammate Verita Stewart, she broke free again, and at one stage had a four minute advantage on the peloton, putting her in the virtual overall lead on the road. Perry again on
?Today I just had to hold on and watch a few select wheels. I don?t think anyone expected Tessa to stay away as long as she did, there were quite a few teams on the front in the last 30 kilometres trying to bring her back. I was getting a bit nervous, I guess you could say, when I heard the 4 minute gap. We had Verita Stewart off the front as well, but we didn?t know until the debrief after the race that Tessa had dropped ?V?. It was obviously a huge effort from her in the wind and the rain, but once we heard the time gap coming down I was confident that we?d bring her back? well at least inside the time gap (for GC)?.
Even with the belief that Fabry was under control, the race leader still had to keep a close eye on a number of elite riders, many of them multiple winners in the NRS in the past.
?I think I had to keep an eye on the same five that had finished together there up Gunns Plains. Obviously Miranda Griffiths (Holden) was only two seconds down and climbing really well, but once she dropped off the pace halfway up the final climb, then I had to dig really deep to keep Lisen Hockings at bay. She was a little way up the road with Ruth Corset (Total Rush), but by the end I managed to claw my way over the top of Ruth and reduce the time gap to Lisen in the last few hundred metres.?
In the end, a bare six seconds advantage over Lisen Hockings on the overall was all that separated the top two on the general classification standings with rising star Lucy Kennedy 25 seconds back in 3rd. With Ruth Corset being the dominant rider in recent seasons, her absence to pursue triathlon goals for parts of the season makes it seems less likely that she?ll be defending her title this season. With that in mind does Perry have the overall goal of replacing her former teammate at the top of the pile?
?I?d obviously like to say yes, every race you go into has different stages which suit different riders. We?ve got a number of riders who we can work for in different conditions so it will depend. If there?s a hilltop finish or a TT then it?s more in my favour. If you look at the profiles for the upcoming Battle on the Border (dates?) then it will someone like Sophie Mackay from our team who has a bit more of a kick on her.?
The win continues a great series of results for Perry, who won the Tour of Bright at the end of last season, followed by a 4th at the nationals time trial where she was only beaten by World Tour riders.
?This is the biggest win I?ve had so far. Obviously winning a NRS Tour overall is a big deal, Bright was challenging, but you?re racing against the best in the NRS here. In think in terms of it being a three stage race where you have to well on every stage to win, unlike just a TT result. Each and every race is different, but that was definitely one of the hardest and best wins I?ve taken.?