Queensland’s Carla Ryan reclaimed her crown when she won the elite women’s individual road time trial at the Australian Open Road Championships held in Ballarat on January 7.
The 2007 champion covered the 28km course in 41:21.05, edging out South Australia’s Alexis Rhodes (41:21.67) by a mere six tenths of a second, with Barcelona Olympic road race gold medallist Kathy Watt in third place (41:34.19).
“I didn’t expect it. I wanted to just go out and enjoy it because I hadn’t had awesome preparation,” Ryan said.
The diminutive Ryan battled strong winds midway through the race. “The wind was crazy, especially with my build, and I was thrown around a bit," she said. "There were some massive wind gusts and I had to stay positive and keep the pressure on the pedals.”
Following a 2008 that saw her sign her first professional contract with Cervelo-Test Team and compete in her first Road World Championships, the 23-year-old also sealed a spot at the 2009 World Championships with her win.
“When I won in 2007, I was with the QAS (Queensland Academy of Sport) so I didn’t get to wear the green and gold jersey very much, but now with Cervelo, it’ll be awesome to wear it on my skinsuit all year," said Ryan who will race around the world as a professional this year.
"I'm happy with how I rode but to come second by such a small margin kind of hurts a bit," said Rhodes. "Full credit to Carla – her riding was awesome and she was a better bike rider on the day."
West Australian Josephine Tomic won the Under 23 title ahead of Queensland’s Shara Gillow, with another West Australian Sarah Kent in third.
Tomic only arrived in Ballarat at midnight last night after racing the five day Jayco Bay Criterium Series, the 2007 triple junior World Champion posted a time of 42:56.14 on her first ever ride of the challenging Mt Buninyong course.
Queensland’s Shara Gillow, daughter of Moscow Olympian David, finished just over three seconds behind Tomic (42:59.84).
“I like time trialling and I like hills, so I'm pretty stoked,” Gillow said.
“My goal was just to get my name up there and on the podium, so I’m happy,” said Kent.
Former rowers Amber Halliday and Sally Robbins also lined up, with three-time world rowing champion Halliday impressing on her debut. The South Australia finished fourth in a time of 41:36.76 only two seconds off the bronze medal.
"She's a champion – she's the best physiological specimen I've seen since 1992 (Kathy Watt)," said South Australian Institute of Sport coach Gary West of Halliday, who was lining up in her first cycling race on the back of eight weeks of training.
Meanwhile, Robbins finished well down the field in 22nd place with her time of 47:04.58.
"It’s a really good change – a good break mentally and I'm enjoying the experience and enjoying being here," said Robbins who will also contest the road race on Saturday.
Vicki Whitelaw, one of the pre-race favourites, was on track for a podium finish before a puncture put paid to her medal hopes. She ended up in fifth place in a time of 42:40.00.
For full results, report and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.