It was a dream come true for Ballarat local Shannon Malseed (VIC / Team TIBCO-SVB), who sensationally won the elite women's road race at the 2018 FedUni Road National Championships on Sunday, chasing down solo breakaway Katrin Garfoot (QLD) in the finishing straight before triumphing over Lauren Kitchen (NSW / FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) and Grace Brown (VIC / Holden Team Gusto) in a sprint to the line.
Malseed, who has been on the rise in the Australian cycling scene for a few years with the 2016 Oceania road race and 2017 National Road Series titles to her name, was overcome with emotion as she embraced family and friends.
"I'm so lost for words - I can't believe that this happened," Malseed said immediately post-race. "It is a dream - an absolute dream. This is my first year racing for a professional team, I'm so honoured I get to wear the Australian colours all year."
The early break of Kitchen, Jessica Allen (WA / Mitchelton–Scott) and Kate Perry (VIC / Specialized Women's Racing) attacked early, establishing a breakaway that at one stage led by over four minutes.
The trio were caught just before the final lap of the nine lap, 100 kilometre race, following a spirited chase driven by Garfoot, Brown, Brodie Chapman (ACT / CBR Women's Cycling), Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-Scott) and Shara Gillow (QLD / FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope).
Garfoot then attacked and looked to have established a winning lead in the final kilometre, before being overhauled by Malseed.
“In the last kilometre I was really calm,” explained Malseed. “I just knew that if I backed myself, I could do it. I know I can sprint well if I get aero enough and channel my inner Caleb Ewan in a headwind finish,” quipped the 23 year old. “Luck definitely swung my way today.”
For second placed Kitchen, it was her second silver medal in the Australian road race championships having made the podium in 2014.
“It was definitely a long day out in the break but having Shara [Gillow] as a teammate this year, I really wanted for us to have an advantage in the final and have both of us there. For it to work out perfectly for us to have two riders in the final selection, meant that we went from being one of the smallest teams to having the numbers which was a little bit unexpected,” said Kitchen.
“I knew I’d have a chance to be in the mix of the medals. Of course I’m disappointed not to have the jersey but it’s a long season. It’s a really good start, both Shara and I got a medal here this week [so] this is a big result for us. We’ll hopefully build on this for the season.”
Third placed, Grace Brown animated the final kilometres, attacking the select group with six kilometres remaining and gaining a small advantage before being reeled in.
“I thought my last chance was when I tried to break away at the back of the course, I’m usually not very good in a sprint finish but I think that helped me in the end. I was quite calm and everyone else blew up and I came through,” said Brown who spent 2017 racing in Europe with the Australian Women’s Development Team.
After doing the lion's share of the work for Mitchelton-Scott to bring the early breakaway back, Alex Manly (SA / Mitchelton-Scott) held on to finish in the top 20 to claim the under 23 road race national title.
Josie Talbot (NSW / Specialized Women's Racing) won the U23 silver medal while Kristina Clonan (QLD / QAS) rounded out the podium.
“It’s pretty special, it was nice to come away with the win. We had a good ride with all the girls but just weren’t able to pull it off,” said Manly of the race for line honours.”
“I wasn’t sure with the role I had to play if I would actually hang in there but it turned out all good in the end.”
Specialized Women's Racing Kate Perry came away with the Altus Traffic Management Sprint jersey and the Federation University Queen of the Mountain jersey .
Elite Women's Road Race
Altus Sprint jersey - Kate Perry (VIC / Specialized Women's Racing
FedUni QOM Jersey - Kate Perry (VIC / Specialized Women's Racing
U23 Women's Road Race