Shara Gillow’s second place in the Gracia Orlov? individual time trial was the highlight of a fantastic day for the High5 GoExPro Australian Women’s Road Development Team in the Czech Republic. The Australian time trial champion will start tomorrow’s final stage in second overall.
It was an eventful double day for the High5 GoExPro Australian Women?s Development Team at Gracia Orlov? on Saturday. Shara Gillow missed out on the top step of the podium by 19-hundreths of a second in the morning individual time trial. Although the Australian time trial champion was understandably disappointed to settle for second, the result allowed Gillow to jump two spots on the overall. She started the afternoon road race in second place on the general classification.
Amy Gillett Foundation scholarship-holder Louisa Lobigs also had a ride to remember. One of three High5 GoExPro Australian Team riders given the green light to put in maximum effort in the morning time trial, Lobigs managed ninth place in the 120-rider field.
The High5 GoExPro Australian Team backed up their strong performance in the morning with an incredible effort in the afternoon and were well-rewarded. Jessica Allen rode herself into the winning breakaway and managed a top-five finish, and Shara Gillow finished in the first main chase group to maintain second overall heading into the final day of racing.
?We had three top ten?s today,? said sport director Donna Rae-Szalinski. ?It was a good day at the office for the team. The girls rode so professionally this afternoon. I am a very proud mama bear.?
STAGE THREE TIME TRIAL
Ann-Sophie Duyck, riding for the Belgian National Team, took the win in the individual time trial by the narrowest of margins, just edging out Gillow to the top step of the podium. Duyck covered the 13.5-kilometre course in Hav?rov in 17:56.31. Gillow covered the course in 17:56.50. Olga Zabelinskaya (BePink) rounded out the podium.
?The course was on a big open highway and was pretty much an out-and-back,? explained Gillow. ?It was false flat on the way out, and the wind started to pick up at the end. It was a really, really straightforward course, and I knew because it was short, the times would be pretty close. It?s the type of course that is high speed, all out, all the way.?
?It was a bit frustrating when I learned that I was so close to the win,? Gillow added. ?No matter how good your ride is, there?s always going to be something you could have done better somewhere out on the course, and so that?s all I was thinking about after the race. Did I pick the right line? Did I move around too much? Where could I have cut it a little bit or crossed more smoothly??
While Gillow, Lobigs and Jenelle Crooks, who started the stage as best young rider, put their energy into the morning?s effort, Allen, Shannon Malseed and Kimberley Wells were forced to hold back energy.
?Shannon, Kimbers and I were asked to ride an easier TT and save ourselves for the afternoon,? Allen explained. ?We knew the road stage would be hard, and we wanted every advantage we could have. Donna let Louisa, Shara and Jenelle have a crack ? for Shara and Jenelle, it was about the overall, and Louisa is a TT specialist.?
?The double days are hard physically, but they?re also mentally hard,? Allen noted. ?You can?t switch off much. You have to stay motivated and get back on the bike in the afternoon and be ready to put in a good ride.?
STAGE FOUR ROAD RACE
Pernille Mathiesen (Team BMS BIRN) soloed across the finish line in Visalaje to win the 63.5-kilometre afternoon road stage. Thirty seven seconds later, Anisha Vekemans (Lotto Soudal Ladies) reached the finish line. Marie Vilmann (Team BMS BIRN) rounded out the podium. Allen, who had been part of the late race breakaway turned winning move, slotted into fifth on the stage, 1:06 behind Mathiesen.
High5 GoExPro Australian Team lit up Gracia Orlov? stage four. Allen?s late race break slipped away only after she and her teammates had attempted escape after escape.
Gillow managed 14th place on the stage and heads into Sunday?s final stage in second overall, 1:50 down on race leader Olena Pavlukhina (BTC City Ljubljana). Defending champion Alena Amialiusik (CANYON//SRAM) is one second behind GIllow in third overall.
?CANYON//SRAM was very aggressive today,? explained Allen. ?They?re down on GC and wanted to put pressure on the yellow jersey. Their tactic worked in our favour. When they went on the attack, we went with them, and we counter-attacked them as well. It worked out for us.?
?The team was really fantastic today,? Allen added. ?Every time a break went, we had someone in it.?
With around 25-kilometre still to race, Allen slipped into a move of around ten riders. The escape group proved to have a winning combination, and the breakaway collaborated to extend their advantage.
?The group worked well together until the Denmark rider attacked the group with about five kilometres to go,? said Allen. ?At that point, everyone just sort of looked at each other.?
?It was a hilltop finish, and the breakaway broke apart coming to the line,? Allen added. ?I?m disappointed I couldn?t win it for the team, but I just didn?t have the legs today. I?m happy with fifth, but I would have liked to have been on the podium.?