Lucy Kennedy didn’t win the battle, but she won the war Thursday at the Lexus of Blackburn Women’s Herald Sun Tour.
The Mitchelton-Scott rider, who raced this week without three teammates due to injuries, defended her title after a hard battle up the Falls Creek summit in Thursday’s final stage.
Overnight leader Arlenis Sierra (Astana) put up a stout defense, but the Cuban ceded enough ground to open the door for Kennedy.
“It’s really really satisfying [to defend the title],” said Kennedy. “I wouldn’t say I was nervous, I was excited and really motivated and the team here were just amazing. Even though we didn’t have a full team, I really owe all of this to them.”
The stage was shortened due to the threat of extreme weather, and organizers neutralized a large descent off Falls Creek to open the stage. Instead, the course looped around and then went straight up the decisive climb.
Sierra, winner of stage 1, started the day with a 10-second lead on Kennedy and most of the other GC favorites.
Ella Harris (New Zealand) won the hilltop finale, nipping Sarah Gigante (TIBCO-SVB) at the line. Kennedy came through third at three seconds back, but had enough to secure the overall. Sierra fought hard, but gave up 31 seconds, allowing Kennedy to vault ahead to take the overall win.
“Arlenis was so strong today, she was just following my every move and I just had my DS in my ear telling me to keep on going and that she will eventually crack,” recalled Kennedy after the stage. “She did, eventually, and then when I saw the two in front of me were split off yesterday, I thought I had (the title) there with a few hundred meters to go.”
Kennedy wins ahead of Jaime Gunning (Specialized), at 12 seconds back, Sierra settled in third at 22 seconds back.
Stage 2 results:
1. Ella Harris (New Zealand) 1:36:43
2. Sarah Gigante (Team Tibco-SVB): S.T.
3. Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-Scott): +00:03
1. Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-Scott): 3:52:38
2. Jaime Gunning (Specialized Women’s Racing): +00:12
3. Arlenis Sierra (Astana Women’s Team): +00:22