With 87 starters on Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit, there was nowhere to hide today at the inaugural Towards Zero Race Melbourne event. As the opening salvo to the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, Race Melbourne featured much of the peloton from the Santos Women’s Tour earlier this month in Adelaide. In the end, a fast bunch sprint would be decided by a Vittoria tubular tire and a Vision carbon wheel as Kirsten Wild beat out Chloe Hosking (Ale-Cippolini) in a photo finish. “We are very happy, because we know the victory was for Kirsten,” added Director Sportif, Manel Lacambra, “but this one was a team victory as everyone did a big effort to get the final win.”
Having already won two out of the year’s first four race, Wild was picked as a favorite for the race, as was second place finisher Hosking; Hosking has missed only one podium this year. "That was a close one!” said Kirsten Wild. “Thanks to my Cylance Pro Cycling teammies for making this win possible!!"
The Towards Zero Race Melbourne took place during the Australia Day national holiday on the Albert Park circuit, which is a replica of that used for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix. The women raced a total of twelve laps of the 5.3km circuit for 63.3 total kilometers.
There were intermediate sprints on offer during the race, but the team entered with a singular focus, bringing Kirsten to the line first.
The race started quickly with attacks often during the back stretch of the course; the first real break away wasn’t until six laps into the race when a trio of riders representing Hagens Berman, Shoair, and United Healthcare were able to gain an advantage. Their time would site between ten and fifteen seconds for about two laps before a counter by the Canyon-SRAM team brought them back.
The race continued like this with small attacks of one or two riders gaining a small advantage only to be brought back by the tail wind assisted peloton looking for those intermediate bonus sprints.
“We had [Malgorzata Jasinska] and Rossella [Ratto] covering all of the attacks and Rachele [Barbieri] (7th on the day) was all day with Kirsten, “continued Manel. “Dani [King] was also very good, working for the team and closing the last attack 2 k’s before the finish line that was a very dangerous move.”
With everyone working to keep the peloton together, Marta Tagliaferro was left to take care of Kirsten on her own in the closing kilometers. “I'm really happy about this race, we did a perfect lead out for Kirsten and in the end Dani worked a lot to close the break,” added Marta. “So, I was a bit isolated. In the end, I was alone, so I tried to do my best for the lead out, which was maybe a little early, but Kirsten is the strongest. Kirsten is really really strong and today she showed the power legs [laughs]”
"Well it feels pretty damn good to be part of this team," said Dani after the congratulating the team below the podium.
Up next for the team is the third edition of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on Saturday the 28th at 11:45 am local time.
2017 Towards Zero Race Melbourne Results:
1. Kirsten Wild Cylance Pro Cycling
2. Chloe Hosking Ale Cipollini
3. Lisa Brennauer Canyon-SRAM
7. Rachele Barbieri Cylance Pro Cycling