High5 Dream Team rider Lucy Kennedy has put in a herculean effort in the heat of Buninyong to claim the bronze medal in the 2017 Australian Road Cycling Championships elite women’s road race.

A small breakaway of former High5 Dream Team rider Ellen Skerritt plus her fellow Queenslanders Shara Gillow and Jenelle Crooks got away on the opening lap, and established a break that hovered around two minutes for the opening four laps.

The peloton then responded and a chase group of 15 riders, including Lucy Kennedy, was formed but the group were unable to catch the leading trio, and were eventually caught by a hungry peloton.

Midway through the race a chase group was formed, and they managed to catch the breakaway trio with four laps remaining. The group consisted of pre-race favourites Katrin Garfoot, Amanda Spratt, Ruth Corset, Carlee Taylor, and once again, Lucy Kennedy was in the thick of the action, joined by her 2017 teammate Emily Roper.

On lap 7 of 10 Kennedy attacked on the Mt Buninyong climb along with the two Orica-Scott riders Garfoot and Spratt as the trio established a lead over the rest of the small breakaway, and with 35 kilometres to go, it was anyone’s race.

With three laps to go, Garfoot and Spratt powered away over the climb to go 1-2 in the race, while Kennedy continued to push, keeping the chasing group of five riders at bay to win the bronze medal.

‘I’m really proud of that effort! There was eight of them (Orica-Scott), and probably four or five who could have won the race, so to get in there for a bronze medal, I’m really pleased.

‘I expected there would be an early break, I wanted it to be a hard race, I wanted the pace to be on to whittle it down to just a few riders because I can’t sprint to save my life!

‘Orica-Scott started really driving the pace and the peloton just kept getting smaller and smaller. They really drove the pace until it was just Amanda (Spratt), Kat (Garfoot) and myself. Then Amanda went off the front on her own and I was trying to chase her with Kat sitting on my wheel.

‘Eventually Amanda slowed down a little bit and Kat bridged across to her. It was always going to be hard, and I had to make the decision whether to try and sit on them and have a game of cat and mouse or to let them do their thing together and time trial a bit myself. With the group chasing behind me, I thought that was the better option.

‘Today was another level, and having a big crowd here supporting us was really exciting as well!’ said Kennedy.

The High5 Dream Team will next be in action at the Santos Women’s Tour in Adelaide from January 14.