Elvin Wins Australian National Road Championships
Defending road champion Gracie Elvin took back-to-back road titles at the Cycling Australia National Road Championships in Ballarat earlier today. Team AIS executed a plan that played to the team’s strengths in numbers amongst a strong, deep elite women’s field. In the finishing meters Elvin outsprinted a lead group of nine riders, that included teammates Shara Gillow and Amanda Spratt, to claim gold.
“I’m really proud to be part of this team,” Elvin explained after being celebrated on the podium. “I want to dedicate this jersey to all my teammates. I’m really happy to race along side of them. We did a great job today, and I can’t wait to race with them in Europe all season.
“Winning last year was a surprise,” Elvin added. “This year, I really, really wanted it. I put a lot of pressure on myself. Even though I probably shouldn’t have, it was hard not to. I was nervous this morning but also quite confident.
Elvin would have happily supported any of her teammates should they have found themselves in a position to claim the green and gold jersey. While the team had a clear approach to the race, there was no outright leader.
“We went in with specific jobs for everyone,” explained Sport Director Gene Bates. “We wanted to get to the halfway point and have all hands on deck. The circuit makes for a hard course, and we expected a race of attrition. We saw that in the final. Not many riders were left with legs in the end. We wanted to look after as many legs as we could.”
“We weren’t riding for one particular person today,” noted Elvin. “We were putting all our cards on the table and supporting whoever played the right card. I drew the winning card again today.”
The first half of the ten lap, 102 kilometre race was a fairly quiet affair. Lisa Jacobs (VIS) launched an attack the first time up Mount Buninyong and quickly went to work building her lead. By the start of lap four, Jacobs had put in 2’23 on the field. When Bridie O’Donnell attempted to jump across to Jacobs, Team AIS went on the offensive.
“Lisa went out early, and we were happy with that,” said Bates. “We knew she’d come back to us eventually. As Lisa’s gap grew, Bridie jumped to start to make her way across to the leader. At that point, we sent Jessie [MacLean] up the road to begin to put the others on the back foot. That’s when the race really started to open up for us.”
Following the sixth ascent of Mount Buninyong, MacLean had made contact with O’Donnell. The two chasers worked together to eat into Jacobs’ lead. Although they came close to catching Jacobs, they were swallowed up by the peloton before they were able to shut down the move completely.
Elvin countered the catch. As the peloton neared the top of the two kilometre climb, she put in an attack.
“We weren’t too worried when Lisa got away although she probably built up a bigger advantage by the half-way point than we would have liked,” explained Elvin. “When her lead approached four minutes, that’s when we started to get ready to go. Everyone pitched in. We executed our plan very well.”
“The pace increased on that sixth lap,” continued Elvin. “I could see the stronger riders starting to apply pressure. As we crested the climb, I saw