A fast day in Pajot Hills Classic sees Roy finish just outside the top ten

Wed 30 Mar 2016

Former Australian criterium champion Sarah Roy was the highest placed finisher for ORICA-AIS today, sprinting to eleventh place in the new UCI 1.2 category race Pajot Hills Classic.

The riders fought all day to force a breakaway but with the presence of a strong tail wind the race concluded with bunch sprint won by Marianna Vos (Rabo-Liv).

Sport director Gene Bates took positives out of today, after the team were well represented and aggressive throughout the race.

"It was a really fast race, we had a tailwind for the majority of the day," said Bates. "The action really started to happen when we got to the Muur van Geraardsberg as the race blew up and riders began to drop off the back. A large group of around 50riders formed at the front and we had all six riders in there so that was really good."

"It was a strong tailwind and over the Bosberg and the remaining climbs, the front group really established itself and we knew the winner was going to come from that group. Unfortunately we lost Katrin Garfoot on the last cobble section, she had a mechanical and with the race all split up she wasn't able to get back."

On the final lap Australian champion Amanda Spratt found herself out front with four other riders, a move which the team would have liked to stay away.

"The girls were super aggressive after the climbs," Bates continued. "They really tried to force a group away knowing there was a tailwind and therefore more chance of surviving. It was really quick the whole way through but noone was able to stay away more than a couple of kilometres."

"At one stage we had Spratt away and we always had someone covering the other attacks. The team rode really well together so it was unfortunate they couldn't get away and it came down to a sprint.

"We tried to look after Roy for the finish and she actually miss-timed her sprint. She hit the front around 500metres to go which was too far to go, so she was a little disappointed with the result. Overall we can take a lot of positives away from today and especially going into Sunday everyone is really excited and motivated."

How it happened:

A chilly afternoon saw the riders take to the start line ready to tackle another Belgium Classic. The race consisted of eight cobble sections and challenging climbs over 122.4kilometres, a perfect warm up race ahead of this weekend's Tour of Flanders.

During the opening 22kilometre lap, the peloton strung out over the first cobble section causing the bunch to split into several groups. ORICA-AIS rider Roy went on to take third over the first GPM of the day, consequently creating a lead group. With the race still in the early stages the leaders weren't able to open up a substantial gap.

The peloton finally regrouped and made their way towards the Muur van Geraardsberg causing another split in the field. 51riders formed at the head of the race with the remaining peloton over one minute behind and still a long way to go.

As the large front group raced over the various tough climbs, riders tried endlessly to push the pace and attack but were not able to force a further breakaway. 

After three of the four finishing circuits were complete with just 22kilometres remaining, a group of five successfully opened up a gap including Australian champion Spratt. The five riders led through the final lap but as the riders came into the remaining 10kilometres, numerous attacks and a high speed in the main chasing bunch caused the breakaway to be swallowed up. 

Five different riders formed a new gap and it was in the final three kilometres that the race came back together, as teams set themselves up ready for the hard 400metre rise to the finish line. Roy finished the day in eleventh place behind race winner Vos.

ORICA-AIS continue racing in Belgium on Sunday 3rd April in the WorldTour race- Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Pajot Hills Classic results:

1. Marianna Vos (Rabo-Liv) 3:08:14
2. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) ST
3. Lotta Lepistol (Cervelo-Bigla) ST
11. Sarah Roy (ORICA-AIS) ST