Italian sprinter wins inaugural Geelong Classic
ITALIAN sprinter Sofia Bertizzolo has continued her strong start to the season, winning the Geelong Classic criterium.
The UAE Team ADQ rider, who won the sprint classification at Adelaide’s Tour Down Under earlier this month, made her final move early in yesterday’s (Wednesday, January 24) race and no-one could catch her on the line.
Australian cyclist Georgia Baker (LIV AIUla Jayco) had her third runner-up finish this month and Italian Francesca Barale (Team DSM) completed the podium.
A crash took out three riders at the finish.
“It was a strange finish because I felt the peloton was coming super-fast and we were all in the gutter close to the fence so it was a close finish,” Bertizzolo said.
“When I heard that there was a crash in the back, I was not ready to launch but then I thought someone would overtake me, so I just went super-long [with her sprint].
“It’s also slightly downhill so I had already picked up my speed and I was sure nobody could have passed me at that point.”
Baker acknowledged her excellent January form.
“Getting on the podium is always good, but definitely would like to be a step higher,” she said.
“The team’s been riding really well for me, so hopefully we can achieve success on the weekend,”
She said LIV AIUla Jayco had “heaps of cards to play” in their racing.
“We have a really strong team here so we can be aggressive and back whoever is in the breakaway as well. So yeah, we were prepared for everything, but if it came down to a sprint finish, we were also really confident in our lead-out as well.”
The street race is a hit-out for the women ahead of Saturday’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, which will start and finish in Geelong.
“When I came here yesterday and did a recon, I was very happy with the terrain, it’s kind of like Ardennes Classic with this local look. It’s exactly what I like, so fingers crossed.” Bertizzolo said of the Deakin University Elite Women’s Race route.
Ahead of the men’s race on Sunday, their mid-week hit-out will be the 158.6km Surf Coast Classic road race today, with an inland course taking the field from Lorne to Torquay.
Australian star Luke Plapp (Jayco AlUla) is on the start list for the race, but it is unclear whether he will race at all in Geelong as he recovers from the severe road rash he suffered in a crash last week at the Tour Down Under.
– WITH AAP