Gillow grabs slice of history
Queensland’s Shara Gillow, 25, has dominated the field to claim her third consecutive national time trial crown and a piece of history at the Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships held at Ballarat’s Lake Wendouree.
Gillow finished in a time of 38mins 36:59 seconds, over one minute ahead of Tasmania’s Grace Sulzberger (39:46.23), with Victorian rider Felicity Wardlaw (39:57.23) claiming a surprise bronze medal.
“It’s an honour to win three time trial national titles in a row,” said Gillow, who became the first woman in almost twenty years to claim three consecutive titles.
The win equalled the performance of 1992 Olympic road race champion Kathy Watt, who claimed a trifecta of titles between 1992 and 1994.
“I actually only found out recently that Kathy had set the mark with three titles and that it hadn’t been broken,” explained Gillow, who revealed thoughts of equalling the record wasn’t on her mind.
“It’s great that I’ve equalled that now, but I didn’t have any extra pressure to chase that record. I always put pressure on myself anyway,” the Sunshine Coast cyclist said.
Fellow Queenslander and former champion Carla Ryan was the first rider in field of 32 starters who set out on the 29.2kilometre course and despite facing tough cross winds around Lake Wendouree and head winds along the Avenue of Honour, Ryan posted the early lead (9th/40:38.66).
Starting in the midst of the field, Victoria’s Wardlaw threatened a boil over when she overtook Ryan on the hot seat, however not before Sulzberger quickly assumed the position with a scorching ride.
Former road champion Ruth Corset (6th/40:12.84) and two-time time trial runner up Taryn Heather (4th / 40:00.36) also posted solid times, as did Tiffany Cromwell (5th/40:07.33).
However it was the 2012 London Olympian who, as the final rider to leave the gate, powered across the course to record the resounding victory in front of a swelling crowd on the banks of Lake Wendouree.
“I love time trials a lot weather they are hilly or flat and today’s course was a good course,” Gillow explained. “But with the course changes this year, it’s hard to compare my effort to my previous titles.
“I’m always striving to go better, (but) It’s a special win today, that’s for sure.”
Tasmania’s Grace Sulzberger was ecstatic with her silver medal, admitting a top five finish was a dream goal.
“I finished sixth last year and I was hoping to do one better,” Sulzberger said. “(At the finish) I couldn’t believe it, I came across the line and was in first position until Shara finished and took the win.
“I am so happy, I can’t wipe the smile off my face,” the 25-year-old added.
Tasmania’s Sulzberger, 24, who won the 2011 National Road Series, spent a disappointing 2012 season plagued with illness and injury that included a broken wrist, a lung infection and tonsillitis.
“I have only been back training for a month heading into the road nationals,” explained Sulzberger, praising her brother’s training regime for her result. “I have to thank my brother Bernard for my success as he motivated me and got me training again,” she concluded.
Victoria’s Felicity Wardlaw claimed a surprise podium appearance, just one year after the 35-year-old commenced her competitive cycling career.
“I’m a relative novice in time trials, today was only my third one,” said Wardlaw, whose most significant result to date was a victory in the women’s A grade time trial at the Tour of Bright last December. “But with each time trial, I learn so much and I hope I can keep improving.
“I was really nervous before the start. I came into the nationals with fairly low expectations so I am thrilled with my result – it is awesome,” Wardlaw remarked.
The Benalla local said a career in professional cycling was not out of her reach and something to which she will continue to aspire.
“They keep telling me I’m 35, but there are world and Olympic champions who are 38 years old so I’ll keep going until I decide that I’ve had enough,” Wardlaw concluded.
ACT’s Ailie McDonald claimed gold in the women’s under 23 classification (42:04.58) over Victoria’s Jess Allen (43:36.92) and Queensland’s Cassandra Dodd (44:31.80).
“This is my first individual national medal and it’s gold which makes it super exciting,” McDonald said of her medal adding to a teams pursuit track medal. “It’s great to start the year on such a high,” the 21 year old said.
The Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships will be held in Ballarat and Buninyong from January 9 – 13.
The criteriums will be held in the Ballarat CBD on Thursday from 4.30pm, with the road races held on Saturday and Sunday in Buninyong.