Picking up from where she left off after winning the National Capital Tour in September, Lucy Kennedy has today taken out the 2016 Tour of Bright after finishing second on the final stage, the brutal Mt Hotham ascent. Her win was set up on Saturday when she claimed a solo win on Stage 2 to Tawoonga Gap.
‘I’m really happy to win the Tour of Bright after coming second last year. It wasn’t a tour that I was targeting, but it’s always a really good race and a great lead into the Australian Road National Championships.
‘I had a few weeks off when the National Road Series finished, then got back into some fairly solid training, so I’ve been training pretty hard for a couple of months. It was my first race in quite a while, so you never know how you’re going to perform after an extended break. I felt like I was climbing really well, which is great for the confidence.
‘Nationals are only a month away now, so it’s great to have a good, hard hit out against some strong competition.’
Going into Stage 2 40 seconds down on race leader, and overall National Road Series Winner Lisen Hockings, Kennedy knew she had to put in a big effort to claw back time, and set up a final showdown on Mt Hotham.
‘On Stage 2 there was a break of two who had a huge gap at the base of the Tawoonga Gap climb. They had a good two-minute gap on us, we weren’t getting many time checks, so I knew I had to go pretty hard up the climb or risk not catching them! I made an attack early on that dropped everyone except Lisen (Hockings), then just as we caught the two in the breakaway I attacked again, dropping Lisen to take the stage win solo.
By virtue of winning Stage 2 by 22 seconds to Hockings, Kennedy put herself in the perfect position for an attempt at the General Classification victory as the race headed towards Mt Hotham for Stage 3.
‘The final stage was a complicated one! There was an early break before the Mt Hotham climb of around six people. We caught them on the false-flat section of Mt Hotham, then Kate Perry and Shannon Malseed broke away.
‘Coming into the final 10 kilometres we were more than two minutes down on them, so I knew it would be hard from there! It meant there was a battle to catch them to win the stage, as well as to get the 18 seconds I needed to take the GC lead from Lisen.
‘I managed to drop Lisen on CRB Hill, and then caught Shannon. I could see Kate further up the mountain, and she didn’t look too far away, but when you’re going as slowly as you do up Hotham every metre counts. I couldn’t quite catch Kate, but I did enough to win GC!
The Tour of Bright victory is the second tour win in High5 Dream Team colours for Lucy Kennedy, and has her primed for a strong showing in the 2017 Australian Road Cycling Championships in January.
Images copyright Con Chronis