State Long Distance Road Championships
The Roleystone Circuit, used for the State Champs and previously the Tour dE Perth,is becoming quite familiar for me and was where I rode my first elite women's road race 2 years ago. The course is simple, out Brookton Hwy for 50km and then back to Roleystone to complete two 5km loops around the high school. Brookton Hwy is undulating and there are only a few climbs that can do much damage.
The pic shows the gradient for the loop and whilst it isn't a huge climb it does pinch at the top - just before the finish line.
The race was pretty quiet for the first 50km. There were no real attacks and everyone was happy to roll through keeping the pace steady. Sarah-Jeanne Fraser turned the heat up at the turn-around point and only Rebecca Halliday, Sarah Fraser and Melissa Hoskins were able to go with her. I was with them for about a minute but couldn't quite keep up the pace and dropped off the group. I was scared that I wasn't going to be able to get onto the passing wheels and had to make a real effort to get going again after going deep into the red zone.
After that I got to conserve some energy as I wasn't interested in helping the bunch chase down my team mate. The group got very close to getting back on and the support cars had pulled out in anticipation. Maybe they were a bit too complacent or tired but the gap didn't close. Sarah Kent got her group to hustle and they weren't seen again by the chasers.
Once Bec's group was clear I got to play a bit and attacked up one of the shorter steeper climbs about 30km out of town. I stayed away for close to 15 minutes, but the bunch weren't keen for another rider to stay away and chased me down. I wasn't backing my climbing legs in the last two laps and was keen to have another go to get away but my second attack didn't last long.
I was happy to see Karagullen, which meant were close to home, but was a little anxious about the last climb before turning into the circuit. Clare McLean didn't want a big bunch sprint and powered up the climb. A gap started to form between her and Lorraine Hartland and once it grew out to 10m I jumped across to Clare and tried but failed to come around her and push on to open the gap further. By the time we turned into Chevin Road Lorraine and Merissa Cunningham were making their way back to us and had caught us before the downhill. We stayed together keeping a steady pace up the hill and into Peet. I was happy to lead the bunch into Raeburn as I was concerned someone would jump when the road pinched up. Knowing what the turn is like I checked that my gear wasn't too hard, losing my sunnies in the process. Unfortunately for Lorraine, she was not as lucky with her gear changes and did a nice job of tangling the chain, forcing her to pull over.
Clare pushed the pace up Raeburn Rd and I was not letting go of her wheel. At the bottom of Raeburn Rd on the bell lap, Merissa attacked, I gave it everything to go with her but couldn't hold her wheel and her move split the three of us apart. I started to assume that Merissa had 5th place and was starting to concede 5th place because she had a huge gap on me before the final rise up to the finish line. Cars were starting to back up behind riders from A grade and I wasn't sure if there was room on the inside to pass them but found some. In my final climb I did a bit of grinding and somehow managed to gain enough speed to catch Merissa before the line. I was seeing black by the end of it though!
Sarah Kent had managed to get away on her own before getting back into town and stayed away to take the win. Bec lead her group for the bell lap. Melissa opened up the sprint, but was beaten to the line by a very close finish between Sarah F and Bec.
Full results have been published with bunch times here.