Sofia Bertizzolo (UAE Team ADQ) started the sprint early at the Geelong Classic and 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.
As hard as Jayco AlUla’s, Georgia Baker tried to catch the Italian, it was too late, which meant Baker was left to settle for her third second place in a season that is just weeks old. Francesca Barale (dsm-firmenich PostNL) took third.
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, and one of the early attacks, then Australian Criterium champion Ruby Roseman Gannon (Liv-AlUla-Jayco) went out front with 20 laps to race, with women’s Tour Down Under winner Sarah Gigante (AG Insurance-Soudal) in hot pursuit.
There was 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 with 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.
Down to three laps to go, and there was a split, but by the time it was two to go, it was back together yet again with the Visma-Lease a Bike squad driving on the front.
As the bell rang out to signal the final lap, AG Insurance Soudal were at the head of the race. A 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.