Bendigo cyclists eye women's grand prix title

Bendigo cyclists Emma Jackson and Kate Finegan will be racing to stay ahead of the pack when the Red Star Coffee Women’s Grand Prix rolls in to Bendigo on Sunday.

Round two of the event will be held at Mayfair Park, with 100 riders set for the three criterium divisions, plus 20 riders in the novice race.

Racing begins with a prologue from 12.30pm, with each cyclist’s individual time deciding which division they compete in.

Division one riders can score 20 points towards the overall grand prix for winning the criterium, while divisions two and three race for maximums of 15 and 10 points respectively.

Points are awarded to every rider based on where they finish, as well as to the four-fastest in the prologue, the sprint winners during the race and lap leaders.

Golden Square’s Jackson is the equal-leader of the four-round grand prix on 25 points along with Nicole Whitburn heading into round two.

Jackson rode to victory in division two at Cranbourne’s Casey Fields, while Building Champions Squad member Kate Finegan is equal-fourth on 21 points after finishing third in the top division last round.

Finegan and Carly McCoombe are the best chances of success on Sunday, according to their BCS team-mate Nicole McNamara.

McCoombe comes into the team to replace Lauretta Hanson – currently equal-third on the laps leader award – who is at track nationals.

“Kate would be one of the number one crit riders and Carly McCombe’s an awesome track sprinter,” McNamara said.

“Jo Wall’s also in good form. I’m more of a worker, I’d be happy to work for one of the girls.

“We all would like to be in division one, it will be interesting to see where everyone falls.”

The BCS team – which also includes Tayla Evans – is currently sixth overall in the team standings.

Due to only five riders being allowed to race for each team BCS development rider Maddi Leske is racing for a composite team.

Another Bendigo and District Cycling Club member, Peta Mullens, is on the Target Trek team, while Kate Finegan’s mother Cheryle Barker will compete in the novice category at the Cykel event.

Local knowledge at Mayfair Park should count for something, according to McNamara.

“(Last round) was our first team race so we probably weren’t quite switched on in terms of the lead-out, so hopefully that can be a bit better for Mayfair and we can have a bit of a home advantage for the circuit,” she said.

“We race on it every Sunday for Bendigo club racing.”

Cykel’s Rob Carson said the event has attracted plenty of interest for its second year in Bendigo.

“Basically, because of sheer demand we’ve had to introduce a third grade,” he said.

“We’ve sold out the grand prix category and the novice category we have 19 so we’re one short of selling that out. 

“We’re stoked, more than anything we’ve got 20-odd riders racing this weekend who didn’t race in round one.”

The prologue of the City of Greater Bendigo and BDCC-sponsored event begins at 12.30pm, with the division one criterium the last event at 3.55pm.

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