Two-time individual pursuit track world champion Rebecca Wiasak (ACT) showed her strength in Ballarat on Wednesday evening, surprising her rivals to win the elite women's criterium title t the 2018 FedUni Road National Championships.
Despite being is in the midst of intense training to aim to qualify for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Wiasak showed her power, sprinting to the line on the uphill Sturt street finish. Despite being littered by attacks throughout the race the race came down to a bunch sprint with Wiasak striking out and overhauling her rivals to take the title.
"I'm thrilled to win today. I didn't have a lead out, I'm here by myself as I don’t have a team here in Australia. I'm committed to the track program to try and make the Commonwealth Games in April so that's a priority," said Wiasak who won world titles in 2015 and 2016.
Wiasak took out the race ahead of two former criterium national champions, Sarah Roy (NSW/Mitchelton-Scott) and fellow Canberran Kimberley Wells (ACT/Holden-Gusto).
It has been an emotional time for Wiasak, with her fiancé and fellow professional rider Ben Hill suffering a fractured vertebrae in a race crash in China, which left him stranded in the country for seven weeks before returning home on Christmas Day.
"My fiancé Ben has been stuck in China the last few months, it's been a really tough time to stay in Adelaide and continue to train and stay focused and motivated. I just had to make every opportunity count,” she said.
For 2015 champion Sarah Roy, second place was a bitter sweet result.
"Second is not the championship title but it's still a good ride, I think I have to be happy with that. As a team we rode really well and we can be really happy with that as a debut race for the season.
"We were pretty nervous going into the race so I think it’s a good start," she said.
For third placed Wells it was an achievement to even make the start line, working full time as a doctor and coming down with a head cold earlier in the week.
"I feel elated to be on the podium at the criterium national championships. I haven't been very well these last few days and when I woke up this morning I didn't know if I was even going to race. I'm really happy racing with the Holden-Gusto team and to bag a bronze medal is a really big thing," said Wells.
The battle for the under 23 title went to Kristina Clonan (QLD) who finished fourth in the elite race to add another green and gold jersey to her growing palmares, having won the Madison national title in December. Silver went to Ruby Roseman-Gannon (VIC) with Maeve Plouffe (SA) completing the podium.
"It feels awesome! I came out here last year and didn't quite get the results I wanted so it's awesome to be able to come back and I really gave it a good go," said an elated Clonan
"Both are pretty special, you know putting on the Australian stripes is probably one of the best feelings and I am very honoured to wear the strips," she added on comparing it to her Madison victory.