Anticipating the sprinters in her 5 woman group, Australian national time trial champion Katrin Garfoot attacked with 500 metres to go, just before the bottom of the uphill drag into the finish. With a powerful show of strength, she maintained her advantage through to the line ahead of Shelley OLDS (Cylance) and Danielle KING (Wiggle High5).
The women tackled the tricky 19 kilometre circuit around Mt Torrens for 5 laps with 95 kilometres covered in total. With the road up and down most of the day, including a long drag up to the KOM point of the day, the race was expected to be one of the most selective of the Tour, and thus one of the most decisive for GC.
The initial softening up period produced few moves, and the bunch was together for the first sprint point, which has taken by Nationals criterium champion Sophie Mackay (Specialized) with Lauretta Hanson (Rush) and Amanda SPRATT (Orica-AIS) taking third. With no significant moves until this point, Sharlotte Lucas (Holden) took off just after the main climb, getting an initial gap, then stretching her advantage out to 40 seconds. This proved enough for her to take the first KOM points from Jo Hogan (Rush) and Lauretta Hanson, but over the top, the Orica-AIS riders picked up the pace and forced a selection, with 48 riders making the cut and catching up with the escaped Lucas.
The aim of the tactic was to use their strength to eliminate the sprinters from the rival teams, and isolate the key riders, but it wasn?t particularly effective, with the only top rider being dropped being Miranda Griffiths (Holden) who unfortunately hasn?t enjoyed the best of Australian seasons so far. The front group continued to get whittled down, and was reduced to 38 riders for the start of the final lap. As the riders went up the main climb for the last time, Katrin Garfoot launched an attack, with 4 others, Daniellle King, Shelley OLDS, Lauren KITCHEN (Hitech Products) and Tiffany CROMWELL (SASI) managing to go with her. This group worked well together, gradually extending their advantage, as the chase didn?t really get going behind, with all the main teams represented. With a gap of 30 seconds with 5 kilometres to go, the advantage of the 5 woman group looked like it would be a race winning one that would be decided in a sprint. Katrin Garfoot talked to Peloton Caf? after the race.
?I was the worst sprinter out there, I was last wheel, which was what I wanted to be, because I knew that if I attacked, maybe no one would see me right away. That was my plan, just to try something. I knew beforehand, maybe about 500 metres to go was a sweet point for me, particularly going uphill into a headwind, I couldn?t do it for longer, and shorter was going to be hard with the sprinters. We were planning to race this stage as a one-day race, we haven?t made any plans from here on so we?ll meet tonight.?
Lauren KITCHEN started her sprint early to try and bridge the gap to Garfoot, but ended up dragging Olds and King into the podium positions. ?Of the five (breakaway riders) Garfoot was probably the least known for the sprint, but she was really strong and hit the group with about 600 metres to go. Instead of riding for second I tried to get over to her. I?m a little upset to not be on the podium for the girls, because I think they rode really well, and I?m really proud they came out today to support me (Hitech Products are a Norwegian team). 4th isn?t bad, it?s something we can build on, and hopefully we can finish the week with a good podium overall.?
Danielle KING was in third position and spoke to Peloton Caf? briefly. ?I?m really looking forward to the rest of the Tour, tomorrow should be fast and furious, we?ve got some great teammates with the Wiggle High 5 girls and I?m really excited.?
The main bunch came in 47 seconds down on the front five riders, with Annette EDMONDSON leading them across the line. That leaves the first five with a stranglehold on the General Classification, with Shelley OLDS likely to be the favourite given her sprinting prowess and the profile of the upcoming stages.
In unfortunate news, Ainslie Bakker (High 5 Dream Team) was caught in a nasty crash as the peloton went downhill into a hairpin bend, with Bakker having to be taken to Adelaide Hospital with a suspected broken collarbone.
The race will continue tomorrow in Adelaide, with the women?s stage preceding the People?s Choice Classic.
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