Roseman-Gannon has made a winning start to her first season as a professional on the WorldTour, backing up her success at the Bay Crits with a long-awaited win at the Road National Criterium Championships. The Victorian rider covered a dangerous move late in the race, before sprinting to a superb win off the wheel of her lone BikeExchange-Jayco teammate Alexandra Manly.
“I’ve wanted this for a very long time, and to finish it off in my first time out in a full BikeExchange kit means so much," said Roseman-Gannon. "I can’t thank Alex Manly enough, she rides for other people all the time. She is the most selfless rider and I couldn’t have done it without her.
“I knew that Alex would give me a perfect leadout I just didn’t want to get boxed in. I saw a move coming on my inside and knew that it was time to go. I went, gave it everything I had, did what I’ve done a thousand times in training and pulled it off. I’m speechless really."
The Elite and Under-23 women’s criterium began in warm conditions, with the peloton initially happy to set a steady tempo around the hotdog course in the centre of Ballarat.
A crash at the midpoint of the race saw a number of riders hit the road at the exit of the fast corner at the bottom of the straight, but the peloton came back together with the crashed riders rejoining the field after missing a lap.
A strong attack from Amber Pate prompted a response from the main teams, with the move marked out by Alexandra Manly (BikeExchange-Jayco) and eventually brought in hand.
That led to a passive few laps before an upping of the pace saw more attacks flow off the front of the peloton. Rather than a truce after the catch, there were further flurries of aggression that saw an elite group of nine, with pre-race favourites Ruby Roseman-Gannon (BikeExchange-Jayco), Matilda Raynolds (Inform TMX MAKE), Josie Talbot (Sydney Uni Staminade) and Peta Mullens (Roxsolt Liv SRAM) joined by Neve Bradbury (Canyon-SRAM), Anya Louw (ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast), Lisa Jacob (Knights of Suburbia), Amelia Watkinson and Sophie Malowiecki (Giant Racing).
The group established their lead and worked solidly towards the finish, with only a very strong effort led primarily by Amber Pate (Inform TMX MAKE) seeing Manly and the talented all-rounder bridge across to the leaders with just over two laps to go.
Pate tried an attack almost immediately but that was brought under control and it was clear the race would end in a sprint. In the reduced group, it was a textbook leadout from Manly that brought Roseman-Gannon round the bottom corner and well up the final straight. The Victorian was under pressure from the other sprinters, but despite a strong challenge from Talbot, she was able to go all the way to the line to claim her maiden elite national title on the road.
Talbot finished second, with Mullens in third to round out the podium.
In the Under 23s, Anya Louw finished strongly for fourth in the race, good enough to claim the Under 23 women’s title, with WorldTour rider Neve Bradbury in second, and Keely Bennett back in the main bunch taking out third.
All attention now turns to the road races around the traditional course of Mt Buninyong, where Roseman-Gannon will enter as one of the favourites.
"The road race is more of a challenge," said Roseman-Gannon, "Alex and I are a small team but a strong team and we’re going to give it everything we have.”
The Elite and Under-23 women's road race will be live on SBS and SBS On Demand on Sunday from 10.00 AEDT, with a live show following and the men's race soon after that. Tune in for 'Super Sunday' on SBS!