Ruby Roseman-Gannon (Liv AlUla Jayco) has unlocked a moment and achievement she has always dreamed of, winning the elite women’s road race national championship at the Federation University RoadNats in Ballarat.
Roseman-Gannon outsprinted a lead group of 11 that contained the best of Australia’s female cyclists, with Lauretta Hanson (Lidl-Trek) closest to the 25-year-old, pipping her teammate Alexandra Manly to the silver medal.
A sense of disbelief washed over Roseman-Gannon after the finish line, who was shocked to finally win in Ballarat after two consecutive fourth-place finishes.
“I think I’m just in shock, (the) last couple of years I’ve wanted this so bad and every year I’ve finished a bit disappointed, and I just can’t believe it,” Roseman-Gannon said.
“I just wanted to do it so badly today and I had amazing legs. I mean it helped that I was always up the road on the climb but couldn’t thank my team enough, this is the best group and I’m just shocked.
“It just doesn’t feel real. I think I’m still like ... it feels like a dream. I’ve done a lot of work for this moment.”
Roseman-Gannon was frequently active in launching attacking moves throughout the 104.4-kilometre, nine-lap race around Buninyong, with her first significant surge coming with just over four laps to go alongside junior time trial world champion Felicity Wilson-Haffenden (Lidl-Trek) and Team dsm–firmenich PostNL’s Maeve Plouffe.
At that point, solo breakaway rider Courtney Sherwell (Bendigo & District CC) held a one minute and six-second advantage over the action behind her, but that gap perished rapidly under the impetus of AG Insurance–Soudal–Quick-Step pair Anya Louw and Sarah Gigante, with the former led out by her new teammate on the Midland Highway climb.
Three-time road race national champion Amanda Spratt joined Gigante, and the two swept up Sherwell in a matter of minutes.
As the race crested Mt Buninyong, the decisive lead group formed containing all the heavy hitters and teams.
Roseman-Gannon attacked once more a lap later on the climb, this time joined by 2022 national champion Nicole Frain (HESS Cycling) and Lauretta Hanson (Lidl-Trek).
The chase from the main pack behind was successful once again though, and for the second time in as many laps, a select group of favourites formed with two laps of Buninyong to race.
Georgia Baker (Liv AlUla Jayco) was the next to try her hand at attacking the group, doing so on the descent before the Federation University section of the course.
A response from Hanson was swift, and Roseman-Gannon was glued to the 29-year-old's wheel as she dragged her across to teammate Baker. The trio would receive the bell for the final lap with a 43-second advantage.
As the climb started, Baker fell back from the front as Hanson increased the pace on the Midland Highway. Behind, her teammates were on the charge, led by defending national champion Brodie Chapman (Lidl-Trek) looking to set up Spratt for the final time up Mt Buninyong.
The two Lidl-Trek riders dragged Amber Pate (Liv AlUla Jayco) Gigante and under-23 rider Neve Bradbury (Canyon//SRAM) in tow to the front of the race, with their chase converging on the leading duo as they crested the climb.
At the same time, a new lead trio formed under the force of Spratt, with Roseman-Gannon active again in following an attacking move, along with Gigante.
Tactics and caution to commit to riding the front of the race started almost immediately, allowing both the second and third chase groups on the road to claw themselves back to the front. The latter contained four-time individual time trial national champion Grace Brown (FDJ-SUEZ), Frain, Manly, and 2023 National Road Series winner Emily Watts (Duolar – Chevalmeire).
All three groups become one with 1.4km to race.
In the final straight, it was Pate who jumped first from the 11-rider pack. Roseman-Gannon was quick to latch onto her wheel for a lead-out and launched around her teammate at 150 metres to go to win the national championship.
Roseman-Gannon said the final sprint was a blur.
“Honestly, I wasn’t really thinking, I just wanted it so bad and I knew I had the legs. It was one of those moments where you are just in flow, just in race mode, what you’ve done 1000 times before and I can’t even really articulate what happened,” she said.
“I think for once we had numbers. I think last year they had the numbers and this year we had all five in the last lap, so it made a big difference, and it was nice to be in the break with Lauretta. We were off the back in some races last year and we have a good working relationship.
“It’s a really special thing to bring this jersey to Europe. We had a team meeting before and everyone was 100 per cent in, we really wanted this. We had tears in the meeting about how much this meant to us.”
Neve Bradbury wins under-23 road road national championship
A fantastic 10th place finish from Bradbury delivered her the under-23 title, three minutes and 38 seconds ahead of silver medallist Haylee Fuller (Team BridgeLane) and bronze medallist Ella Simpson (ARA Skip Capital).
“I wasn’t really thinking too much about the under-23s. I just wanted to do my best in the elite and I mean if I do well in the elite then obviously, I’ll do well in the under-23s,” Bradbury said.
“It was tricky. I was like so outnumbered, and I don’t have a good sprint on me, so I was like, I really need to do something about this and get ahead before the sprint.
“So, I kind of took my chance and hesitated for like half a second, which I’m pissed at myself about, but anyway, it is what it is. I don’t think it would have changed either way.
“Hopefully I can race an under-23 race this year so that I can actually wear the jersey. Luckily there’s Tour de l'Avenir ... so maybe I can race that and put it on.”
Elite Women Road Race
Ruby ROSEMAN-GANNON (Liv AlUla Jayco) 3h04:52
Lauretta HANSON (Lidl-Trek) +0
Alexandra MANLY (Liv AlUla Jayco) +0
Grace BROWN (FDJ-SUEZ) +0
Nicole FRAIN (HESS Cycling) +0
Amber PATE (Liv AIUla Jayco) +0
Emily WATTS (Duolar - Chevalmeire) +0
Brodie CHAPMAN (Lidl-Trek) +0
Amanda SPRATT (Lidl-Trek) +0
Neve BRADBURY* (Canyon//SRAM) +0
U23 Women Road Race
Neve BRADBURY (Canyon//SRAM) 3h04:52
Haylee FULLER (Team BridgeLane) +3:38
Ella SIMPSON (ARA Skip Capital) +3:38