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BUNINYONG, Australia (VN) — When ORICA-AIS missed the second significant break during the Australian national road championships, Gracie Elvin jumped to follow sport director Dave McPartland’s instruction to get across to the three riders up the road. She bridged alone to join what would become the winning move and took the four-up sprint to claim the biggest win of her short career.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said the newly crowned national champion. “I’m pretty excited. It’s great to be part of a team that’s so happy for me. I think that’s the best part at the moment.
“I had the support on the road during the race, and I have my team’s excitement for me now with the title. Everyone is really happy, and that makes me even more happy.”
A team effort netted Elvin the win. Jessie MacLean was the first ORICA-AIS rider to head up the road. An early four-rider move gained a maximum advantage of slightly more than three minutes before the peloton began to chase in earnest.
“Jessie’s move came back with three laps left to race,” said McPartland. “She and another rider in the break attacked on the climb at the same time the peloton started to attack. Everything came back together before that lap had finished.”
With two laps left to race, Jo Hogan (Victoria), Carla Ryan (Queensland) and Miranda Griffiths (Victoria) escaped from the bunch.
“We didn’t have anyone in the move, and I wasn’t very happy about that,” admitted McPartland. “The second to last time up the climb, I yelled out to the girls that someone needed to get across. Gracie responded right away.”
“When I got the yell from Macca to go, I attacked the group and assumed the others would follow,” Elvin added. “I thought Tiff [Cromwell] or Shara [Gillow] would counterattack. I was surprised that didn’t happen. When I realized they were letting me go, I decided to put the hammer down and commit to getting across on my own.”
Elvin felt confident that she would have the upper hand in the sprint and was conscious of the energy she expended ahead of the finish.
“Once I bridged across, I knew I needed to look after myself,” she said. “I didn’t do too much work. I put in a bit more effort near the end out of fear in the group that there was a strong rider bridging across, but she never made it.”
Heading into the final kilometers, Elvin kept a close eye on her breakaway mates, expecting them to attack her as they headed towards the finish.
“I think the other girls knew that I had them in the sprint, so I waited for them to start attacking me,” she said. “They never did. Actually, it started getting slower and slower towards the end. They stalled with 400 meters to go, so I went for it. It was a long way out, but I managed to hold it for the win.”
Elvin maintains that it could have easily been any of her teammates pulling on the gold and green jersey this afternoon.
“The whole team rode really well,” she said. “We had a few plans, and we were all prepared to back each another all the way to the end. It could have been any of us today.”