Australian women's TT champs

Bridie O'Donnell's 'big engine' trumps Olympic champ

Victorian Bridie O'Donnell has claimed her first Australian Championship with a convincing win in the 28 kilometre elite women's time trial at the Scody 2008 Australian Open Road Championships near Ballarat in Victoria.

Darwin cyclist Matt King ( claimed the men's U23 crown and Amanda Spratt (NSW) the U23 women's title.

O'Donnell, an orthopedic surgeon who has worked with the Royal Flying Doctor Service and is a former rower and ironwoman, is a product of the Australian Sports Commission's 'Women with Big Engines' project that was created in September, 2006, to bolster Australia's chances for success in road time trial competition.

The 33 year old Victorian posted a time of 41min40.82sec, 15 seconds faster than of Athens Olympic Games road race champion, Queensland's Sara Carrigan (41:55.08) with South Australian Alexis Rhodes (High Road Sports) third in 41:55.59.

Her average speed of 40.32km/h was outside the required 44.8km/h set for automatic nomination to the Australian team for the Beijing Olympic Games but was impressive nonetheless. In August last year, she won the Victorian Championships also in Ballarat, and in December won the Oceania Title in New Zealand.

"Its never too late to win a national title I say," said O'Donnell. "There is so much emphasis on youth these days, but I think today I showed what potential women in their 30s have.

"I really believe that rowing and triathlon gave me strength and an ability to suffer, but I have also been coming up here every weekend for the past six weeks working on that hill, so I felt confident going in to today," said O'Donnell who was the fastest over the first half of the Buninyong course and held her form to the finish line.

"I really wanted to win a national title," she said. "I felt for myself that the qualifying time they set was quite high and possibly unrealistic, so that pressure was off me, I just wanted to win and I feel really bloody proud."

Carrigan, although disappointed with her result following recent hard training for the discipline with new coach Neil Ross, says she is already looking towards Saturday's road race.

"For the first time we have two days recovery and the field is 90 something riders strong so I look forward to a great race," said Carrigan.

Rhodes was ecstatic with her bronze medal performance, less than a second behind Carrigan.

"To be so close to Sara who is such a great time trialler is a great honour," said Rhodes. "I am happy with my form and really stoked with my performance."

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