Allen crowned Australian champion with second win in as many days

Wed 4 Jan 2017

Just one day after winning the final day of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic in Williamstown, Jessica Allen has once again soloed to victory, this time to be awarded a conveted green and gold jersey as the 2017 Australian criterium champion.

23-year-old Allen, along with 22-year-old teammate Jenelle Crooks, dominated the 30 lap criterium, initiating or marking all of the moves before Allen escaped solo with five laps of the 1.1km course remaining.

“I’m lost for words,” an emotional Allen said on the finish line. “It’s been an awesome few days with Orica and I’m just a bit emotional to be honest. Thank you to my teammates for believing in me.”

“Our main objective was to be aggressive and we did that perfectly.

“There was a few breakaways early on which we weren’t really happy about and then halfway through the race I got away with Jenelle and a few others and this was good because we outnumbered them.

“Jenelle and I aren’t sprinters so we knew we had to attack. We wanted them to be solid attacks, not useless attacks, and we really did that today.” 

Sport director Gene Bates praised Allen and was visibly pleased with the way the team rode.

“It really is worth noting the team effort that went into today,” Bates said. “We wanted to create situation where we had upper hand and we did that.”

“We were happy for anyone to be in that situation, including any of our young riders, but it is a full credit to Jess and Jenelle who both rode with incredible intelligence tonight.” 

Bates and Allen both recognised the road the West Australian has travelled to land with a gold medal.

“Jess has had a hard road,” Bates said. “It took her a long time to find a team that would support her following her 2011 world title, but we are incredibly pleased with how she is fitting in with the group.”

“She is the first to put up her hand to help others, so it’s really pleasing to see her enjoy some success too.”

Allen, who joined ORICA-SCOTT in mid-216, agreed.

“It’s been a long time coming,” she said. “I was pretty close to quitting. For women, we don’t do it for the money, we do it for the passion, and so there was a big question of if I wanted to commit so much and leave so much behind.

“I did re-assess a bit at one point, but last year I really found my love for the sport again and when I’m happy, I ride well.” 

How it happened: 

After an early and short-lived solo move in the first lap, Crooks initiated a group of six riders.

The strength of those who joined her meant the group refused to work together and they were reeled in ahead of the first intermediate sprint.

Allen then attacked just after the sprint and a second effort by Crooks over the top saw her escape with Peta Mullens (Hagen). 

Australian road race champion Amanda Spratt bridged across with Lucy Bechtel for company but the peloton recognised the threat and chased hard to bring it back together. 

A huge race by Crooks saw her make a third breakaway after she followed another attack of teammate Allen, the pair now in a group of five riders with nine laps remaining. 

After a number of attacks, it was a move by Allen with five laps remaining that broke her breakaway counterparts and the former junior time trial world champion, finished the race alone to win by 41seconds.