Jessica Pratt, 19, confirmed her potential today at the Tour of East Gippsland, bursting through the pack past much more experienced riders to take third in Stage 2.
A tough stage had seen a number of riders eliminated but Pratt was consistently amongst the strongest, escaping on the toughest climb of the day with teammate Lucy Kennedy and four others before the peloton brought them back.
Pratt kept her focus to navigate her way through the reduced bunch sprint to take third behind Shannon Malseed (Holden) and Ruth Corset (Rush).
“It’s really good, it’s my first NRS race with the new team they’re all amazing riders and to learn from such great riders and staff is amazing. We get along well as a team, work together well and have a lot of fun.”
The race had been run at a high pace with little leeway given to attacks throughout the stage, with moves and counterattacks being the story of the race.
“There wasn’t much going away today, Lucy Kennedy was really strong out there over the last hill and my teammates worked really well out there. Nothing really stayed away and it came back for a bunch sprint. It was a really long uphill drag to the finish. I was a bit far back coming into the final corner, maybe eighth, ninth or so. I should have been a bit further forward, I went a bit early but I think we all did that. Coming in it was about who had the legs left because we went so early.”
Pratt’s third place comes after a comeback of sorts from a nationals campaign that was below the lofty expectations that many had of the Queenslander entering the racing.
“Yeah, it feels particularly good because at nationals I was getting stitches in my leg so it was a pretty rough January and it’s good to be back.”
So where to from here for the next potential Australian star?
“Obviously keen for tomorrow’s stage then Oceanias in three weeks which I’m looking forward to. Also Battle on the Border, my home NRS race, hopefully I can go well there.”
Earlier in the day Lucy Kennedy finished fourth in the opening stage time trial, and is currently fourth on General Classification, with one stage remaining.
Images copyright Ernesto Arriagada