Shara Gillow became the second Australian woman to claim three consecutive national titles in the individual time trial championships today. The Queenslander won the race against the clock at Lake Wendouree in a time of 38:56.59 over the 29.2 kilometer course. Gillow’s gold-medal ride was 1:09 faster than Grace Sulzberger (Tasmania) for silver and 1:20 ahead of Felicty Wardlaw (Victoria) with bronze.
“I’m pretty happy with my ride, and it’s obviously really good to win the national championships again,” said Gillow. “With the course changes this year, it’s hard to compare my effort to my previous titles, and I’m always striving to go better. It’s a special win today, that’s for sure.”
Gillow said she enjoyed the conditions on what she called a ‘straightforward course’ that started with a loop around Lake Wendouree in Ballarat.
“We did a bit more than five kilometers around the lake before we headed straight out of town and straight back,” she said. “There was a bit of wind, which I like, so that worked in my favor. I didn’t break the course down into different sections. My goal was just to go as fast I could the entire time.”
The national champion found it difficult to gauge her effort early on in the race.
“I caught the first two riders I was chasing, but they weren’t medal contenders,” she explained. “Once I had gone past them, it was a bit more difficult to gauge how I was going, and I definitely like to have that tangible mark during a race when possible.”
The effort handily won Gillow the title and equaled the record set by 1992 Olympic road race champion Kathy Watt who claimed the hat trick of time trial titles from 1992-1994.
“I actually only found out recently that Kathy Watt had set the mark with three titles and that it hadn’t been broken,” admitted Gillow. “I’ve equaled that now. I didn’t have any extra pressure to chase that record. I always put pressure on myself anyway.”
While Gillow delivered the standout result, all four ORICA-AIS starters had strong rides in Ballarat. Tiffany Cromwell rounded out the top five with Amanda Spratt in seventh place and Gracie Elvin one spot further back in eighth.
“I expected all four of our riders to finish in the top ten,” said Sport Director Dave McPartland. “They came up in the top eight. I’m pleased, but I wouldn’t say it’s a surprise. Tiff and Spratty haven’t done much time trial work in the last six months, so their rides were respectable in that regard. Gracie is the most inexperienced of the bunch, so I’m quite happy to see her run eighth.”
ORICA-AIS will challenge for the national criterium title tomorrow. In 2012, the team won the criterium championships with Alexis Rhodes.