Sofia Bertizzolo (UAE Team ADQ) launched the sprint early at the Geelong Classic and then there was no catching the Italian who claimed the mid-week criterium leading into Saturday’s Women’s WorldTour event at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.
Georgia Baker made a valiant attempt at hunting her down, but the Liv-AlUla-Jayco rider was left to settle for her third visit to the second step of the podium in a season that is just weeks old. Francesca Barale (dsm-firmenich PostNL) took third.
“It was a strange finish because I felt the peloton was coming super fast and we were all in the gutter near the fences so it was a close finish,” Bertizzolo said after heading to the podium. “Then I heard also in the back that there was some crash.
“I was not ready to start the sprint but then I thought somebody will overcome me so I just went super long and when I saw no shadow behind me then I thought, it’s done,” said Bertizzolo of the moment she knew she could get ready to celebrate victory.
It was blue skies and a warm evening for the 25 lap race on the 2km circuit around Geelong’s Eastern Gardens. The rolling course that delivers views of Corio Bay provided the opening salvo in the women’s racing in Geelong.
There were plenty of attacks in the opening laps, one of them being Australian Criterium champion Ruby Roseman Gannon (Liv-AlUla-Jayco) who went out front with 20 laps to race while women’s Tour Down Under winner Sarah Gigante (AG Insurance-Soudal) was in hot pursuit.
There was then attack after attack in the subsequent laps – solo, trio’s and bigger groups – but every time they were quickly brought back.
During the last five laps it was all together, with Gigante keeping the pace high on the front, no doubt for fast finishing teammate Ally Wollaston, the stage 1 Tour Down Under winner. Lidl-Trek also were keen to keep it fast and together, with Brodie Chapman keeping the pack rolling and then with two to go, it was Visma-Lease a Bike squad driving on the front.
As the bell rang out to signal the final lap, the fight for position continued but then the crash in the final lap ruined plans for some. Though it was still a furious battle to the line, with Bertizzolo going early and with speed to hold off the other sprinters.