The Federation University Road National Championships got underway on Ballarat on Wednesday, with the under 19 men and women’s criterium national championships.
Apprentice carpenter and 2017 junior track world championship representative Stephen Cuff (NSW) edged out Blake Quick (NSW) in a tight sprint for the national title with Canberra’s Matthew Rice winning bronze.
“I’m really happy with how the race panned out and how I finished it off,” said Cuff who already had an under 17 criterium title to his name.
“I was a little bit nervous coming into the sprint, I hit the front a little bit earlier than I would have liked but it panned out pretty good, I’m really happy.”
A fast race saw plenty of attacks with Jensen Plowright (VIC) animating the race in a strong breakaway before being reeled in by a determined peloton.
Silver medallist Quick also picked up the Altus Traffic Sprint Competition, powering across the line in pursuit of another attack.
In the women’s race, Brunswick’s Sarah Gigante took gold in a show of strength, bridging a 30 second gap to Sydney’s Emily Watts before attacking and riding to a solo victory.
“The gap [to Emily] kept getting bigger and bigger, I was getting a little worried. Even though the girls were chasing, it was up to 35 seconds,” said Gigante.
“I thought I don’t want to race for second, this is it.
“That was just the perfect scenario for me. I didn’t really want to leave it to a sprint because there is a bit of luck involved. Normally the cirterium’s I’ve done don’t turn out like that, with everyone time trialling, so it was just perfect.”
Norwood’s Sophie Edwards won the 4-up sprint for silver ahead of Watts, 53 seconds behind Gigante.
Gigante also picked up the Altus Traffic Sprint Competition thanks to her efforts off the front of the peloton.