I don't know how many people heard Gary Suckling giving the girls a pep talk before the final stage of the Perth Crits but he seemed determined to make the race interesting. Several opinions had been thrown around about the women's racing on the weekend. But, look at how far women's racing has come - we now have one team that competes nationally and another that is ready to take that next step.
The racing dynamics in Perth hasn't always been the best and has been the subject of many discussions and at the beginning of last year a small number of people attended a forum on this subject. Racing can be quite negative especially when there are 1 or 2 very dominant cyclists in the field who become marked continuously. Teams racing and increased numbers as well as positive community support are going to make women's racing better in WA. With two established teams, one team in the making (rumours of Eddy Hollands Bike Services) and the potential for many more teams (SPR, Southwest, Broad, Budget, Cyclemania) we are well on the way for some exciting racing.
Last year I was recruited by Davina to ride for Fleet in the Perth Crit Series, and whilst I only finished one race it was great to be part of a team. From a development perspective, I've gone from not being able to help out the team to being able to lead a team in a year. I am very grateful for the foresight and commitment shown by Davina in encouraging new riders like myself to keep going.
Signing up for your first race can be quite intimidating as in the past the racing community may have appeared quite closed. Fortunately there are now many approachable groups out there, Fleet Elite are very willing to offer advice to cyclists new to racing and there are many friendly groups out there for your development in your pre-racing career (such as South Perth Rouleurs, CycloSportif, TrackCycling WA)
Perth Crits Stage 4 - City of Perth
To make the race interesting several sponsors had offered primes. It seemed like Primes were being offered for every lap or two making it feel a bit like an elimination race on the track. Team Fleet were going for the win and therefore conserving energy where ever possible and coping with the frustration of not fighting for a prime. Sam Wood really cleaned up and showed her strengths as a sprinter winning quite a few of the primes.
Anna did a great job for the team by keeping the pace high at the start. Lisa also did a great job keeping an eye on Davina and blocking her when possible.
Halfway through the race Michaela Anderson launched an impressive attack, catching Fleet by surprise. Unfortunately Davina was straight on to it and whilst Bec and I did our best to get on they quickly formed a gap. The gap stayed consistent but seemed graspable. The chasing came down to Bec and I, with Felicity from Broad attacking to attempt to bridge on her own. I caught her within a lap or so and kept the charge up to catch the two ahead. Today was all or nothing for Fleet - we were out for the win, we needed to beat Davina to win the series. We just had to beat Davina.
Turns out that beating Davina isn't always an easy task! She worked well with Michaela and they stayed away. We probably got within 100m but we did our best. I really enjoyed the race. Bec and I were shattered by the end but ecstatic with our results, gaining 2nd and 3rd for the series. Again, thanks to my team who worked so well together and gave everything; Adrian, Iain, Jack and co at Fleet; Alex, Matt, Brett and Bianca; the mums, dads and family supporters; Trievents and the councils that put on such a great event; Riders Choice and other event sponsors.
1. Davina Summers (Plan B)
2. Michaela Anderson (WAIS)
3. Kelly Gray (KD Cycles)
4. Holly McClellan (Fleet)
5. Bec Halliday (Fleet)
Perth Crit Overall Results
1. Davina Summers (Plan B)
2. Holly McClellan (Fleet)
3. Bec Halliday (Fleet)
4. Kelly Gray (KD Cycles)
5. Liz Leyden (Broad)