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Kate Bates, 23, has added an Australian road champion's jersey to her already impressive collection of track cycling gold medals after sprinting to victory today in a time of 2-46-45 for the 97.5km women's road race in the Adelaide Hills town of Mt Torrens.
Bates defeated Athens Olympic road race champion Sara Carrigan, 25, with world number one Oenone Wood, 25, leading home the chasing main field 12 seconds later to claim bronze. Bates and Carrigan had worked together to establish a winning break in the final lap of the five-lap race.
"This is the best thing I've ever done, there's absolutely no question there... I don't have words for it at the moment, I'm damned excited," said a jubuliant Bates, who will this year race with the world's top ranked professional squad, Team Nuernberger, in Europe. "On the road I'm only just beginning to know what I'm capable of and today is hopefully the start of what can be a big year on the road for me."
It's a big statement from a rider whose track cycling credentials include being crowned 2005 Champion of Champions at the Australian Track Cycling Championships, a gold medal at the Manchester Commonwealth Games, three medals at last year's World Track Championships and selection for the track team for the Athens Olympics. But she has also begun making her mark on the road with a professional contract in Holland last year and selection for the Australian team at the World Road Championships in Spain.
"It's great for the confidence," said Bates, whose sister Natalie claimed the bronze medal in the time trial raced on Wednesday, putting both girls in contention for Commonwealth Games selection. "Nattie did so well the other day in the time trial and I was just so proud of her and she was riding amazingly today as well. If we can both make the Games team, that will just be really, really something special," said Bates, who was also excited at the prospect of choosing a new pair of shoes which is a treat she allows herself whenever she records a significant win.
Carrigan, for her part, was a little disappointed to be the bridesmaid for the second time in three days after claiming silver in Wednesday's time trial. "Consistency, I tell you, that's a good thing... a win is even better," she said whilst congratulating the winner. "She will do the jersey proud this year and all credit to her for a fantastic race and deserved win."
Meanwhile, Wood, who last year claimed her second consecutive World Cup Series crown in Team Nuernberger colours, was overjoyed that new recruit Bates would be bringing the green and gold Australian champion's jersey to Germany. "Our team will be really happy about this and I just think it's great that Kate won today," said Wood. "My role was to help her today and me getting the bronze medal is just a nice little bonus."
The men's elite and U23 fields line up for the 175.5km (nine laps) road race at Mt Torrens at 10am tomorrow.
1 Katherine Bates (Nrnberger) 97.5km in 2.46.45 (35.08kph)
2 Sara Carrigan (AIS) 0.01
3 Oenone Wood (Nrnberger) 0.12
4 Katie Mactier
5 Bridget Evans
6 Olivia Gollan (Nobili Rubinetterie)
7 Jocelyn Loane
8 Kathy Watt
9 Hayley Rutherford
10 Jenny MacPherson
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM