Friday, 10 January 2014


It was an emotionally and physically tough lead into the Australian National Championships for me this year. For the first time in five years I was now a full time bike rider in my lead up to the championships, but that was somewhat countered by a back injury from last year that I just can't seem to shake. For the first time 'ever' I am now part of a Professional Women's Road Team in Wiggle Honda, but this was countered by a complicated decision to leave my domestic based Target Trek MTB Team just one week out from my first National Series MTB Race. All of these are very much first world problems and it was time to put all of this aside and kick my campaign off with the Australian Criterium Championships, a 33km race held on a 1.1km hot dog circuit with a difference -a hill!

Not quite the right colour but still smiling!
Photo courtesy jxp photography

After the withdrawl of defending champion Kimberley Wells (Specialized) and runner up in 2013 Loren Rowney (Specialized Lululemon), the race would now be under the control of the most dominant team in Orica-AIS. With a contingent of four their only 'team' challenge would come from the VIS and Hitec-Products riders, but all-in-all I was a little unsure of exactly how the race would play out. I'm sure there were some great team tactics discussed pre-race, but all of that may have gone out the window when two pre-race favourites were taken out on lap two by a crash out of the bottom corner. Chloe Hosking (Hitec-Products) and Gracie Elvin (Orica-AIS) both suffered minor injuries in the fall but were both unable to re-join the bike race.

I don't have permission to publish this...but what a nice arse!
Photo courtesy Gracie Elvin

This left the race wide open for me. As a one-out rider I knew I had to stay out of trouble and look after myself for a hopeful and potential sprint finish, so I watched the moves from the back of the small bunch while Carlee Taylor (Orica-AIS) kept us all at bay. The main aggressors were team VIS Apollo, and Jessie MacLean (Orica-AIS) but nothing ever looked dangerous and after two short sprints - won by Sarah Roy (Futuroscope) and MacLean - I moved up to Nettie Edmonson's (Orica-AIS) wheel with 8 laps to go. She knew I was there as I followed her around for five laps until we were given the 'three laps to go' board. MacLean was leading the way for her as Taylor monitored the last minute attack from Lauren Kitchen (Hitec-Products). The suspense track-side was starting to build...

Taking care of business..
Photo courtesy of jxp photography

I started to ask myself if I was doing the right thing following Edmonson. Last year I had followed Wells into the final corner and we were a very long way back. She was such a strong sprinter that she was able to overcome the field and take the win but I was left off the podium in fourth. I decided that I wasn't going to make the same mistake again and that I would need to be in-front of Edmonson to beat her. So with two to go I went my own way, and found myself following Jo Hogan (Bigla) as the bell sounded. Hogan is a strong rider and a very reliable lead-out, I knew that she wouldn't play silly down the back-straight and would fight for position around the final bend. I was happy there.

MacLean & Viotto crash centre stage, Edmonson comes down on the right
Photo courtesy jxp photography

I was surprised that no-one made the dash for the inside line on the final corner, in-fact even MacLean left her attempt late around the outside but to no avail. I accelerated out of the corner still on my hoods as I feel more powerful in that position when my back plays up, but couldn't bear the thought of seeing photos of myself in such an unprofessional manner lol So I positioned myself in the drops, selected my gear, and changed it three times throughout the sprint trying to find one that worked...unlucky. Lizzie Williams was the first to jump and it was early- 350m to go into a headwind up-hill sprint. Roy jumped to the right, then I jumped to the left and as the long drag race kicked off I could hear the loud smashing of carbon on metal on tar...unlucky again. I ended up over-geared but even more so outperformed by eventual winner Roy.

The dash to the line! L-R: Kitchen, Me, Roy, Williams and McConville
Photo courtesy jxp photography

As I crossed the line I smiled. I was happy with second, beaten by a better rider on the day, and a rider that I knew everyone would be happy for. For those that don't know, this girl has been on the cusp for a very long time. She is a dedicated athlete in every single aspect of the sport and for some reason she just couldn't seem to crack a win, and it was never through lack of ability. Some may say that she was an unlikely winner, but for those that have raced her she is always at the top of our list of ones to watch. Others may say that she won a 'crash marred race' but I honestly believe the two crashes (yes, there were multiples) in the final straight wouldn't have stripped her of that victory. To say that I am proud of her is an understatement and I hope to stand next to her on the podium may times in the future!

Should have opened my mouth for the spray! L-R: Me, Roy and Kitchen
Photo courtesy jxp photography

Lauren Kitchen (Hitec-Products) rounded out the podium in third. It was disappointing that her team-mate Hosking had crashed out early in the race because I know the two of them were wanting an aggressive bike race and that's not what the crowd were treated to. Instead it was a reserved effort by many as we all prepare for the blue ribbon Road Race on Saturday. Here's to hoping that everyone who laid it down in the criterium recovers in time to put on a great show in the hunt for the green and gold in Bunninyong.

Results: Via Peloton Cafe
Photos: Gallery via Peloton Cafe
Report: Via Wiggle Honda