Rebecca Werner - the Queen of Rymill Park in Santos Cup Round 1
Santos Women's Cup Round 1
Rebecca Werner the Queen of Rymill Park
Photo above (l- r): Grace Sulzberger, Rebecca Werner, Mr David Knox (Managing Director Santos), Skye-Lee Armstrong
Round 1 of the 2012 Santos Women's Cup lived up to all the pre-race hype of attacking and aggressive cycling but it delivered an unexpected, but greatly deserving winner. A couple of late inclusions to the start list gave the race a real international flavour, with the Netherlands' Loes Gunnewijk joining German superstar and World Champion Judith Arndt in the GreenEDGE colours. Quite simply, this was an awesome field of talent.
Under beautiful clear skies and a good sized crowd for the mid-afternoon start, Chief Commissaire Bill Walker handed the start over to recently retired and one of the greats of women's cycling, World/Australian/Commonwealth/Oceania Track Champion, Katherine Bates. Katherine fired the gun at precisely 3:45pm and the field was on its way for 40 minutes of racing.
Alexandra Carle (Jayco AIS Women) led the riders over the line at the end of the first lap, which was completed in 2:20. There weren't any moves for the next lap and a half until Loren Rowney (Specialized Women SA) decided it was time to come out and play. Jessie MacLean (GreenEDGE) and Melissa Hoskins (GreenEDGE) went with Rowney and the pace was on and the lap time tumbled to 2:05. Rowney, MacLean and Hoskins opened a small gap before Rebecca Werner (Specialized Women SA) hopped on the front of the main bunch and started driving it hard with a big turn along the finishing straight and through corner #1. Werner might have been trying to bridge up to her team mate, Rowney, but the rest of the bunch weren't having any of that and hung on to Werner's wheel and they were soon all together again.
The inevitable counter-attack came and it was no surprise to anybody that it was from Tiffany Cromwell (GreenEDGE). We said in our pre-race preview that Cromwell gives everything in a race and when she jumped the bunch three others decided to go with her and they quickly opened up a 6 second gap. The bunch got organised and started chasing Cromwell and her would-be bandits and the gap was closed by the end of the lap.
Another counter-attack was launched and it was none other than Amanda Spratt (GreenEDGE). Spratt looked over her shoulder and saw she had a 3 second gap to three others trying to go with her and then a further 5 seconds back to the main bunch. Spratt again put the hammer down and got out of the saddle and set sail. The challenge being thrown down by Spratt was accepted by Gracie Elvin (Jayco AIS Women) who showed a great turn of speed to bridge up.
When Spratt and Elvin started swapping turns the alarm bells started ringing in the bunch and it was Taryn Heather (SA/Mildura-Coomealla CC) who did her usual thing of coming to the front and taking control of a chase. Heather's great work on the front was taken advantage by Werner and MacLean who launched themselves to join Spratt and Elvin in a lead group of four riders and a gap of 7 seconds back to the bunch. Just as the lead four were getting into a rhythm Spratt attacked again. The new Australian Road Champion was playing hard-ball and obviously feeling very good.
A hard working bunch pulled the leaders back and then a rider was seen darting down the inside and was away off the front. It was Cromwell and the bunch reacted immediately followed by another attack, but this time from Loes Gunnewijk (GreenEDGE). The GreenEDGE team was trying to soften their competitors but Specialized Women SA was absorbing the pressure and got on the front and chased down GreenEDGE. As they came together Alexis Rhodes (GreenEDGE) was sitting second-wheel and looking good and just as we thought the bunch was going to be civil to each other for a change, off goes Rhodes!
With two laps to go Spratt was off the front again but seemed to momentarily sit up as if to wait for somebody. Spratt was joined by Rhodes and Elvin and we were starting to talk a GreenEDGE 1,2,3 if another of their riders joined the lead trio. Somebody forgot to tell Liz Phillipou (Specialized Women SA) about the script and she did a huge turn on the front to pull back Spratt and Elvin. Nicely tucked away behind Phillipou was Werner followed by Shara Gillow (GreenEDGE), Judith Arndt (GreenEDGE) and Grace Sulzberger (Jayco AIS Women). Phillipou would blow herself up with her turn but it would prove decisive.
As riders took the bell for the last lap Carly Williams (VIC, St Kilda CC) jumped and the moves were coming from everywhere. With just under 2 minutes of racing remaining it looked like the bigger teams were struggling to get organised for their lead outs and other riders were grabbing their wheels. Werner found a gap between riders and decided that it was now or never and started mashing the pedals a long way from home. As Werner hit the home straight she had opened up a gap with only Sulzberger, Nicole Whitburn (VIC/Caulfield Carnegie CC) and Skye-Lee Armstrong (NSW/Sutherland Shire CC) seemingly in the hunt. Werner hit the line for a great win, with Sulzberger claiming second and Armstrong grabbing the last spot on the podium.
The women had put on a fantastic and exciting race and it was Werner and the Specialized Women SA team who prevailed today.
Werner now wears the Santos Blue Leader's jersey into Round 2 at Prospect.
Our thanks to Santos and Events SA for their brilliant support of women's racing.