- Young-gun Rosita Reijnhout (Team Visma | Lease a Bike) flies solo to claim her maiden Women’s WorldTour title at the Deakin University Elite Women’s Road Race
- At only 19-years-old, Reijnhout becomes the youngest female in the event’s history to win the elite women’s title
- Despite their best efforts during the final lap of Challambra on the way to the finish, Dominika Włodarczyk (UAE Team ADQ) and Cecillie Uttrup-Ludwig (FDJ – Suez) had to settle for second and third respectively
- As the race got underway, a breakaway quickly formed between Team Bridgelane, Australian National Team and ARA | Skip Capital seeing the opportunity to set themselves up to clinch the intermediate jersey
- The strong winds made it extremely difficult for the breakaway to establish itself and stay up the road due to difficult headwind conditions. The peloton decided to pull them back to the bunch and neutralise the race
- For the best part of Torquay to Barwon Heads there was minimal cross winds and opportunities to break up the bunch, with the peloton remaining together for the majority of the race
- Ally Anderson (ARA | Skip Capital) and Stine Dale (Team Coop-Respol) tried their luck and animated the race when they took a gamble and headed into the strong wind conditions, despite not being particularly suitable for the break
- When the peloton reached the Geelong finish circuit for the first time, Team Visma-Lease a Bike, AG Insurance – Soudal Quick-Step and LIV AlUla Jayco began to work very hard, sending riders up to the front of the bunch to control the pace
- At this point, FDJ-Suez and UAE Team ADQ were hanging at the front, however, were more subdued and playing the field
- Attacking on the first climb, Audrey Cordon Ragot (Human Powered Health) forced the race to spring into action. Quickly developing a time gap, the peloton quickly chased and climbed to keep the pressure high and the race alive
- The pure climbers put their abilities on full display when they attacked Challambra for the second time, Uttrup-Ludwig was the first to attack, with Wlodarczyk quickly following her wheel, splitting the front group and establishing the break
- AG Insurance – Soudal Quick-Step worked hard to protect and set-up Sarah Gigante, however despite her best efforts to jump across to the lead breakaway – it was too little too late
- Reijnhout went flying down and showed her top form as she sailed to the finish line
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- Rosita Reijnhout (Team Visma | Lease a bike)
- Dominika Włodarczyk (UAE Team ADQ)
- Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ–Suez)
- Ruth Edwards (Human Powered Health)
- Grace Brown (FDJ- Suez)
Shimano Queen of the Mountain:
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ–Suez)
Mapei Sprint Classification:
Nienke Veenhoven (Team Visma-Lease a Bike)
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Q&A from Cecilie Ludwig (FDJ–Suez)
What were you thinking coming down that straight during that chase?
The last few laps were super hard. Everyone wanted to be in front at the climb, especially when Audrey [Cordon-Ragot] was out in front in that last lead out into the climb – it was super hard because it was a full head-wind going in one line. I was a bit far behind actually, but managed to put myself in front then attack. But I was just fully in the red going over that and coming into the second climb. When the two girls [Reijnhout and Wlodarczyk] caught me, I was just full of lactic. It was really hard and I just gave it my best. But the two girls were super strong.
Do you feel like you would make the catch at any stage or had you done too much earlier?
I was just too done to be honest. Gave it a go – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But I gave it a good crack.
What were the conditions like out there? Sometimes you were going into 30-40km/h winds.
It was super tough winds today. But it was a good bike race – it would have been quite interesting to watch!
Overview of your trip to Australia – are we likely to see you back?
It would have been nice to take the win today, but we gave it our best. I think we’ve had a good Australian summer here and some good bike racing. I’ve been here awhile now, six weeks or so, I’m happy to be going home.
Teammate Grace Brown finished fifth – given she started the season with a back tweak – that’s good signs for her.
Super good. It’s really nice to see her back at her best. We’ll take that in Europe and continue the fireworks.
Q&A from Dominika Włodarczyk (UAE Team ADQ)
Can you take us through what was happening in those last three kilometres?
I thought that maybe if I stay a gap, maybe she [Ludwig] would attack to Rosita [Reijnholt] but I was completely shocked because she just stayed on my wheel. I knew today that I had really good legs and the whole team did a good job for me, so I really wanted to finish the job. In the end, I’m second and I’m a little bit disappointed. But last year – I raced in my small village in Poland so it’s sounds amazing today that I’m the leader of WorldTour rankings. So, wow!
You had a very strong finish at the Tour Down Under. Did that give you confidence coming here?
For sure. Tour Down Under was my first WorldTour race in my life. I was very shy and only watched Grace Brown on the TV. For me, to stay with them in the bunch was pretty amazing. Then I started to win the sprint. Step by step, and stage by stage, I was more and more confident. And then in the third stage, I finished fifth, so maybe I’m not that bad. And today, it’s pretty amazing that I could finish second.
How nice is it going to be to wear the WorldTour Leader jersey in your next race?
The next WorldTour race is Strade Bianche – I’m not anymore the only girl from Poland so it’s pretty amazing.
Has it increased your expectations of the year ahead?
No I think I can stay calm and be the best version of myself. This is my goal this season. I don’t have any expectations about the future. I just want to build myself as a rider and as a person.
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Rosita Reijnholt (Team Visma | Lease a bike)
Congratulations. How do you feel?
I’m really, really happy and I still don’t believe it. I’m really proud of the team and I’m going to celebrate when I’m home. It was a really hard race and I just went for it.
You looked over your shoulder a couple times in those final kilometres. What were you looking for and what were you thinking?
I was thinking they were coming closer, but I just gave it my all. If i don’t stop pedaling, they for sure come back. And you never know, so I just go and go and go. In the end, I just won and I don’t believe. When I was at the finish, I asked everyone – “did I win, did I win?”
Did you dream that your first professional win would be a WorldTour win?
First professional win, but also my first win ever, because I’ve never won something! [I’m] shook and so happy. I really like to race and it’s beautiful around here.
Can you talk us through the moment when you saw the opportunity to go, and what was the plan?
So the first round on the second climb, I felt on the steep part that I was feeling quite good. Then, Ludwig went for it. I saw I was coming closer then we rode as three. And then they stopped pedalling, and I was thinking why? So I went on my own and just raced the whole time.
You come from a country, Netherlands, with so many stars of this sport. Is there anyone in particular that has inspired you?
My teammate Marianne Vos. I really like how she’s racing and when I’m training with her I just ride next to her. When I see her sprinting, she’s so explosive and fast. I really look up to her.
What’s it like training with Marianne Vos? Do you have to pinch yourself sometimes?
Yeah, it’s sometimes hard as I’m riding next to her on the front and I think “OK, she rides quite hard”. But she’s so nice and I feel I get better and better.
Your career aspirations now – what is the big race that you look at now and say “I want to win that one”?
One day, I really hope to win a stage race, like the Giro or Tour. I really love it and I love climbing. When I do stage races, I feel better. I think it’s a dream but also Strade Bianche.
Are you more one-day? You can obviously climb – do you look towards the big Tours?
The stage races are more for me, but the problem is I like everything. So I’m still searching for what I really can do. For now, I’m training for the Giro but I like the One-Day races.
It was very windy out there. Does that suit a Dutch rider?
Actually, I live on the coast. And everyday, there’s a lot of wind. So I’m really used to it. It’s not really hard from what I’m used to. I like it because I’m always training in it.
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