World Cup champions Amy Cure and Alex Manly won a thrilling Innes Motors Subaru Women’s Madison.
Cure and Manly were tipped to dominate the fifth running of the event, but it turned out to be a nail-biting contest.
Queenslander Christina Clonen and Tasmania’s Georgia Baker took it right up to their higher-rated rivals and led the madison for the first 40 laps.
Cure and Ashby won a vital sprint with 20 laps to go to hit the front for the first time in the race, but Clonen and Baker bounced back brilliantly in the next sprint.
Manly looked ready to secure the five points, but Baker stormed home in the final 100m to pip Manly on the post.
Clonen and Baker led Cure and Manly by one point with 15 laps remaining, but they crucially missed a hand-sling change in the third-last sprint and it cost them a spot in the top three.
Cure and Manly picked up two points to regain the lead by one with 10 laps left.
In the penultimate sprint with five laps to go, Cure showed her class with a stunning sprint to pip Clonen for the five points.
It gave Cure and Manly a handy three-point buffer and it took the wind out of Clonen and Baker’s sails.
Cure and Manly burst clear to win the final sprint and they won the madison with 27 points, seven clear of a gallant Clonen and Baker, while South Australia’s Maeve Moroney-Plouffe and Tasmania’s Macey Stewart were third on 24 points.
“We went out there to do our best and use it as another learning curve ahead of the world championships (next month in Hong Kong),’’ Cure, who won in 2014 with Ashley Ankudinoff, said.
“They (Clonen and Baker) were quite strong. We didn’t have the legs to take a lap and we had to concentrate on the sprints.
“Towards the end there everyone was feeling tired and we got the timing of our changes right and it made a difference.”
Manly, who also won this event in 2015 with Jess Mundy, said the Bendigo Women’s Madison was growing into a great event.
“The madison is my favourite event – road or track,’’ Manly said.
“It’s a lot of fun.”