Nettie Edmondson Podiums in PortarlingtonSat 4 Jan 2014
It was another sprint finish at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic and another podium for ORICA-AIS. Race leader Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda) edged out Nettie Edmondson for the win in Portarlington. Tiffany Cromwell (Specialized Securitor) rounded out the podium. With her second stage victory, Bronzini extended her overall lead while Edmondson jumped up to second overall ahead of Chloe Hosking (Roxsolt).
“The team rode a great race today,” said Sport Director Gene Bates. “We were really active. We aimed to get a move up the road whilst keeping Nettie in contention for the stage win. We were hopeful that Nettie could beat Bronzini if it came down to a sprint today. She came close again, but Bronzini was quicker.”
“I wasn’t feeling fantastic today,” Edmondson explained. “My teammates put in a huge effort throughout the race. I hung out in the back, just trying to hang on, until I realised the race would end at a sprint. I’m lucky that I came up with second considering how I felt.”
The Portarlington course is typically the toughest of the series. Run over roads adjacent to the beach front, winds can wreak havoc on the field. A short but steep hill just after the homestretch and uphill finishing straight often prove decisive. Poor weather conditions delayed the stage three start.
“It was a little strange,” noted Bates. “There was a bit of rain around before our race started, but it was nothing compared to the conditions we face in Europe. I was surprised they pushed back the start. The roads were dry by the time our race began, but it was very windy.”
Cromwell, who took a solo win in Portarlington last year, pushed the pace from the gun in an attempt to soften up the bunch. Despite a flurry of early attacks, the peloton remained together for the first sprint. Shortly after Peta Mullens (Wiggle Honda) edged out Valentina Scandolara and Charlotte Becker (Wiggle Honda) for the sprint points, a three rider breakaway slipped away from the field.
“Valentina attacked several times before she got away,” recalled Bates. “It was a strong three rider move. “
Joined up the road by Gracie Elvin (Jayco National Team) and Mullens, Scandolara drove the break. The trio extended their gap out to around 30” ahead of the second sprint. As the laps ticked down, the chasers began to close in on the leaders.
“The other teams really played into the hands of Wiggle Honda today,” said Bates. “Other riders were aiming for the stage win as well, and rather than let Wiggle Honda decide if they would chase for Bronzini at the expense of Mullens, these other riders chased and brought back the breakaway. It set up the sprint for Bronzini.”
“My teammates put in a big effort throughout the entire race,” said Edmondson. “They were constantly covering moves, and they did what they could to help keep Valentina away. When Valentina’s group began to come back with a few laps left, that’s when I knew I had to start thinking about the finish.”
Scandolara launched one final attack inside two laps remaining. The peloton reeled her back into their fold before the bell lap. By that point, Edmondson had made her way to the front of the field and found Bronzini’s wheel.
“I managed to move from the back of the field to the front in the last couple laps,” explained Edmondson. “After all the work my teammates had done, I decided my best chance was to follow Bronzini rather than use the train. I was the second rider through the last corner, stuck to Bronzini’s wheel. She kicked, and I stayed in her slipstream.”
“I thought being on Bronzini’s wheel would be an advantage because of the serious headwind into the finish,” Edmondson continued. “But she was too strong yet again. We still have one more chance to get one over on her tomorrow.”