Sharlotte Lucas defends Oceania road title with victory in Tasmania
New Zealand’s Sharlotte Lucas successfully defended her women’s road race Oceania title unleashing a powerful sprint as Sarah Gigante (Australia) won the under 23 women’s title on day two of the 2019 Oceania Road Championships in Tasmania, March 16. Finn Fisher-Black (New Zealand) made it double gold as he took a solo win in the under 19 men’s road race to add to his time trial success.
Elite/Under 23 Women’s Road Race
Following a tactical and cautious opening three laps of the four lap 105 kilometre race a select group of nine riders emerged to contest the title. Lucas and Gigante were joined by Jemma Eastwood (Australia), Justine Barrow (Australia), Kirsty McCallum (New Zealand), Alicia Evans (New Zealand), Nicole Frain (Australia), Georgia Christie (NZL) and Alana Forster (Australia) with the group trading attacks on the final lap. Sensing the opportunity to snare the title every move was quickly chased down leaving the group together as they hit the final kilometre.
As they rounded the final corner with 200 metres to go Australian Champion Gigante hit out first, opening her sprint and securing a small gap the field. The uphill drag for the line proved too much for the young Australian with Lucas pipping her on the line for the title. Gigante would hold on for second across the line to add the under 23 title to her time trial gold.
Gold: Sharlotte LUCAS (NZL)
Silver: Justine BARROW (VIC)
Bronze: Kirsty MCCALLUM (NZL)
Under 23 Women
Gold: Sarah GIGANTE (VIC)
Silver: Jemma EASTWOOD (VIC)
Bronze: Georgia CHRISTIE (NZL)
“It is actually quite a relief,” Lucas explained. “I had a terrible last couple of days with my time trial bike. It broke on the plane and I basically had to stick it back together and had mechanical problems yesterday, so I was disappointed with that. To come out today and back up from last year has been awesome.”
In a very tactical race entering as the defending champion and a favourite for a second title meant any move Lucas made was closely monitored by the peloton.
“I felt really marked and I am wearing pro kit and you are always sort of marked and obviously as the defending champion it was quite a mission. I had a couple of goes to get away, but we were reeled back in and I knew obviously on that last lap what I needed to do to win that sprint finish.
“It is quite a technical one coming around that corner, but it is quite uphill, so I was happy to take out the win.
“Sarah [Gigante] put a decent gap on me actually and I was like oh I’m going to have to make this gap up, but I managed to do it and flew past her on the line.”
Under 19 Men’s Road Race
New Zealand’s Finn Fisher-Black was again too strong for the field as he soloed to victory on the final lap putting his strength against the clock that earned him the time trial gold on Friday to use again.
A three rider break formed on the opening lap consisting of Lachlan Robertson (New Zealand), Ari Scott (New Zealand) and Kiaan Kerei Watts (New Zealand) holding a two minute and forty second advantage as they crossed the finish line for the first of four times. As the pace increased on the second lap Robertson fell off the pace as Laurence Pithie (New Zealand), Alexander White (New Zealand) and Guy Yarrell (New Zealand) bridged across with the now five rider group maintaining an advantage of around a minute over the next lap and a half.
Heading in to the final lap Kerei Watts hit out solo before being caught with 20 kilometres to go setting off a flurry of attacks. A four rider move lead by Fisher Black and including Dylan Hopkins (Australia), Sebastian Barrett (Australia) and Josh Lane (New Zealand) emerged with 15 kilometres to go and proved to be the decisive move of the day. Initially working well together the quartet built a near 30 second advantage before Fisher-Black attacked as he saw the five kilometres to go sign and once in time trial mode, he was unstoppable finishing 24 seconds clear of Barrett who won the sprint for second ahead of Lane.
Under 19 Men
Gold: Finn FISHER-BLACK (NZL)
Silver: Sebastian BARRETT (AUS)
Bronze: Josh LANE (NZL)
The Championships conclude on Sunday with under 19 women’s road race and under 23 and elite men’s road race.