THE cycling action continues after today’s Melbourne to Warrnambool, with the National Road Series (NRS) approaching an apex in the south-west tomorrow.
The winner of the series’ penultimate event, the Shipwreck Coast Classic, will help determine the women’s overall champion, with two points separating leader Katrin Garfoot and former teammate Ruth Corset.
Taking in the surrounds of the Great Ocean Road, the race will take riders through the undulating terrain of the south-west coast before turning at Port Campbell to finish back at Warrnambool’s foreshore.
The battle for the women’s NRS crown has been hotly contested all season and the same competition will be expected tomorrow between Garfoot (Jayco/Apollo/VIS) and Corset (Pensar SPM).
German-born Garfoot missed last year’s Shipwreck Coast Classic with illness but is confident her preparation can secure an NRS victory.
“Because it’s a flat course it doesn’t look difficult to follow,” she told The Standard.
“I talk to other people who have done it, but I definitely look at maps and Google Earth, maybe even drive parts which are crucial.
“It’s just between me and Ruth Corset and the course is going to be a tough, long and windy course.
“It’s going to be tough to break away in that wind so we’ll see what happens. It’s going to be a fight ’til the end.
“I don’t really have a strategy. I think it’s just to see what the conditions are like and what happens on the road and what the team plan is going to be.”
The weekend is one of the toughest on the calendar for the men, with the Shipwreck Coast Classic less than 24 hours after the majority of the field covers 256km in the Melbourne to Warrnambool.
Series leader Jack Haig (Huon-Genesys) has a firm grip on the overall men’s series crown and with tomorrow’s 128km race he will look to hold his lead against a quality field, including 2012 champion Floris Goesinnen (Drapac), track world champion Alex Edmondson (Euride) and Lakes Oil Tour of Gippsland winner Jack Anderson (Budget Forklifts).
In the women’s event, Garfoot and Corset will also contend with Sam de Riter and Miranda Griffiths (Holden Women’s Cycling), who both return to the NRS following a stint in Europe.
The pair raced as part of the Australian development team, which included junior road world cycling championship medallists Alex Nicholls and Alex Manly.
“I’d never experienced anything like that before,” de Riter said.
“Most of the girls had raced a UCI race before but it was a real eye opener for me, as I’ve only been racing a year.
“It was crazy to race in a bunch that big, because we definitely don’t have anything like that in Australia.
“I expected to struggle because I haven’t been riding a long time but it was more positioning that affected my results.
“Hopefully my experience will allow me to read a race a lot better than I used to and to be able to ride within the bunch rather than around the bunch.” The final event on the National Road Series calendar will see the men tackle the Grafton to Inverell classic, while the women head to Ballarat for the Tour of Goldfields.