Working hard for overall honours

HEADING into yesterday’s Tour of the South West criterium, Justyna Lubkowski thought her general classification lead would mean she could have a relatively easy ride. 

But a recount following Saturday’s road race and individual time trial meant her lead was significantly narrowed and the Melbourne-based cyclist would have to work for the overall title. 

Lubkowski prevailed, finishing 10th in the criterium, but staying in front of her rivals and close enough to the winner to claim the women’s A grade win at her first attempt of the three-year-old tour. 

She finished the three-stage, two-day tour with a 14.1 second lead over second placegetter Bridie O’Donnell. 

“Heading in I thought I was in front by about two minutes, but I realised the commissaires had readjusted a few things and the gap was only 20 seconds,” Lubkowski said.

“I thought I had enough time from my win in the road race and a solid time trial to get me through.  

“That had a big mental impact. It meant I had to keep a closer eye on the peloton and work that extra bit harder.” 

The 39-year-old said it was a dream finish to her debut Tour of the South West, adding it was the highlight of her five-year competitive cycling career. 

Lubkowski set up her overall victory with an 85km road race win at Wangoom on Saturday. Second placegetter Simone Peirce received the same time of two hours, 29 minutes, 25 seconds, with a one minute and 42 second gap to third placegetter Nicole Whitburn. 

Lubkowski consolidated with the “best time trial I’ve  ever ridden”, finishing the 12.7km circuit in 10th position, one minute and 23.83 seconds behind. 

Lubkowski said her BikeBug-Nextgen teammate Georgina Beech worked hard yesterday to defend her position, pegging back any attacks from general classification runner-up O’Donnell. 

She said her next race would be next week’s Mersey Valley Tour, a National Road Series event. 

“I’ve never ridden in a fully-supported team like this before, so it was so nice to have someone working hard to get you a win,” she said. 

“I’m really looking forward to returning the favour for the girls next week.” 

Portland’s Shannon Malseed finished the tour in eight place overall, but retained the Victorian Road Series leader’s jersey.

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