Katie Hannan leading out Stacey Quinn.
Despite the stormy weather during the week, strong entries were received for the second last event in the Women's Challenge Series a 44km handicap road race held at Williamstown.
The strong cross winds tested the riders ability to recover and ride within themselves, and the deceptive course which saps the legs with a combination of dead roads and constant pitches took its toll on the handicap groupings.
Previous winner Alison Lock was out to try and score a second win and was riding with Sharee Faulkner off limit, but the conditions took their toll and it was not to be.
Series leader Annabel Cox, riding off scratch with Natalie Redmond, had her work cut out on the opening kms as Natalie smashed it along the top to Lyndoch. Annabel's experience on this course came out though and she had enough in reserve to keep the pace up the climb from Lyndoch to Cocoatoo Valley. Natalie had to contend with cramping in the legs and was not able to hold Annabel's wheel, but rather had to drop back and try and ride herself back into the race.
Meriel Custance and Monquie Jones on chopping block worked like a tidy unit and caught their group midway through the first lap. Seasoned racer Kellie Hards had the strength and experience to jump on chopping block and work with them. Whilst Janine McKinnon and Nichola Wilson, formed an alliance and worked together.
Vicki-Lynne Birks kept, Nelli Noakes, Catherine Davies and Lynette Collins organised and riding a quick opening 10kms and they had the next group within their sights as the turned the corner at Lyndoch. However, that was the only glimpse they got until the last lap of Katie Hannan, Stacey Quinn, Kerri Maccini and Liz Jones as they kept the pace high.
Vicki showed that not only does she have a serious sprint but she has an amazing ability to suffer, as she got the better of the course whilst firstly Lynette, then Catherine dropped off. As the back markers caught Vicki and Nelli coming into Lyndoch for the last lap, Vicki's race experience showed as she was able to jump onto the faster group of Monquie Jones and Kellie Hards.
Annabel Cox had both the mental and physical strength to ride the majority of the race on her own and was a worthy winner. Second place went to up and coming young rider Monquie Jones who is gaining strength and confidence with every outing, Third place went to Vicki-Lynne Birks in a two up sprint finish with Stacey Quinn who came in fourth and Kellie Hards crossed the line a mere 3 seconds later and nudged out Katie Hannan to round out the top five placings.
1st Annabel Cox, 2nd Monquie Jones, 3rd Vicki-Lynne Birks, 4th Stacey Quinn, 5th Kellie Hards.
The final round in this series will be held at Victoria Park on August 18th, and winners of the series and most improved rider of the series will be announced.
Place getters Women's Challenge Series Round 6: 5th Kellie Hards, 4th Stacey Quinn, 3rd Vicki-Lynne Birks, 2nd Monquie Jones, 1st Annabel Cox.
Quote from Annabel Cox: "Great competitive handicapping made for an exciting race, had loads of fun; good hard ride, ribs were borderline cracking; thanks guys ;) A1 soup too"
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