Two-time world championship time trial bronze medallist Katrin Garfoot (QLD) won her third consecutive national title in the discipline, outpacing Lucy Kennedy (QLD /Mitchelton-Scott) and four-time champion Shara Gillow (QLD/FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) as they battled the clock in warm Buninyong conditions on Friday.
"I am pretty stoked as always," said a breathless Garfoot following her win.
"There was a lot of pressure, even though I know I should be in the ball-park because if someone was better than me, then they can be world champion. So it is rather unlikely, but there is always a possibility, always a doubt."
Garfoot overtook five riders on her return home on the out-and-back course, though technical difficulties with the timing meant the Queenslander was not certain of her victory until she crossed the finish line.
"There were not any times out there, so I just had to go hard to the finish," she explained.
Although Garfoot was unsure of her ambitions for Sunday’s road race, she had a number of other goals for a busy 2018. "I’ll make my plans tomorrow," she said of the infamous race around Mount Buninyong. "Tour Down Under, Cadel’s and maybe the Herald Sun Tour.
"Then the team pursuit for Queensland at the Track Nationals, just for something different. And hopefully the Commonwealth Games – fingers crossed!"
For Kennedy, a long-time star of the National Road Series, her first race in the colours of professional team Mitchelton-Scott produced a surprising result.
"It was quite unexpected really," she said. "I was hoping to challenge for the podium, so second was really beyond my expectations," Kennedy explained.
After placing third in last year’s road race, Kennedy was aiming to help Mitchelton-Scott put in another strong team performance, a repeat of the 2017 effort that saw then-team member Garfoot finish atop the podium.
"We have a really strong team and we certainly want to defend the jersey," added Kennedy. "We have a number of people who could do that, so I will have to wait and see what the game plan is."
Four-time national time trial Gillow was unable to match her past success, overtaken by Garfoot on the final section.
Asked whether she was happy with the performance, a dejected Gillow replied honestly. "Not really. But I gave it what I had on the day. It was really fast."
Alex Manly (SA/Mitchelton-Scott) put in an impressive performance to defend her under 23 crown, beating former under 17 national champion Maeve Plouffe (SA/South Australian Institute of Sport) in her first year under 23 and Kerry Jonker (VIC/St Kilda Cycling Club)
Manly was swamped by family following her win with the 21-year-old admitted to having endured pre-race nerves, but they did not bother the Track World Championship medallist.
"I am really happy with how today’s ride went. I was a bit nervous coming in but the girls talked me out of all my crazy thoughts and I had a good ride in the end," said Manly.
Manly also commented on the inspiration she gained from the combined under 23 and elite women’s format, which saw her go head to head with some world class time trialers.
"It is really cool, especially with people like Kat [Garfoot] out there. You don’t get the chance to race against some of the best in the world all that often," she added.
Second place for track specialist Plouffe was an impressive result, as she took a brief break from her training commitments. "That was an incredibly hard course," said Plouffe. "So to get second on my first time doing that course is a pretty good feeling."
For bronze medallist Jonker, the podium finish was a surprise after a tough past month. "I am incredibly happy," she exclaimed. "I cannot say I came into this week expecting anything. I was sick most of December, missed out on the SuperCrit and can’t say I have trained much on my time trial bike. I said I would come here and just ride as hard, fast and consistent as I could."
The Fed Uni Road National Championships continue on Saturday with the under 19 men’s and women’s road races and under 23 men’s.