Baker takes final stage as Gigante wins Santos Festival of Cycling

Georgia Baker (Garmin-Australia) won the bunch sprint at the conclusion of the final stage criterium around Victoria Park. Sarah Gigante won the race overall, finishing with the main group after holding a commanding lead heading into the finale.

Baker was the beneficiary of a superb leadout train from the women’s team pursuit squad that formed the core of the Garmin-Australia national team, coming off the wheel of Annette Edmondson and sprinting to the win ahead of Ruby Roseman-Gannon (ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) and a combative Peta Mullens (Roxsolt Liv SRAM).

Mullens had made an attempt to dive up the inside on the tightest of the final corners, and while Baker baulked briefly at finding Mullens on her inside, she was able to correct her line and keep her pace. She then proved the quickest in the final few hundred metres dash, with Roseman-Gannon overtaking Mullens to claim second.

Baker was the chosen one of a number of strong sprinters among the track squad, and made the most of the opportunity.

“We made the decision (who to sprint for) out there given the heat and the hard conditions today,” said Baker. “We weren’t sure, we thought we’d make the call with ten laps to go whether it would be Nettie (Edmondson) or myself that would be sprinting. I thought I’d the opportunity the other day and got second in Stage 2. I was happy to lead her out into the bottom corner but she was like ‘no, no, no, we’ll go for you G’.

“I’m so honoured to have my track girls lead me out. I couldn’t ask for a better leadout in the entire world, it was just awesome. It was surreal out there.”

“I have 100 per cent trust in my teammates. We came together not having worked too much together and by the end of the race it was like we’d been racing together all year.”

Sarah Gigante had been active during the race, marking moves and driving the pace in the peloton at the finish as the first member of Baker’s leadout. She won the race overall by three minutes and 11 seconds from Roseman-Gannon, with Kennedy losing seconds in a split at the finish and dropping a spot on the standings.

The race was a largely uneventful one until the final laps, without a major breakaway and only limited action at the intermediate sprint points.

Ruby Roseman-Gannon won the first intermediate sprint off the back of a fine leadout by Alexandra Martin-Wallace, putting her ahead in the Ziptrak sprint jersey, and firming up her third position overall.

An attack from Chelsea Holmes (Giant Racing) took out the second intermediate sprint, as Frain and Roseman-Gannon fought it out for the bonus seconds, with Roseman-Gannon again superior.

Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange) took the third sprint point, with Roseman-Gannon again shading Frain in the sprint.

There were a few shortlived attacks from the smaller squads, but solo moves were easily shut down, with the Garmin-Australia squad and Team BikeExchange very keen to keep things together for a bunch sprint.

The fourth sprint wasn’t heavily contested, with Kelly Fettes (Butterfields) the first over the line.

A few crashes throughout the stage brought down riders, but thankfully none appeared to be seriously hurt from what was visible on the broadcast.

Gigante won the race overall from Kennedy, with Roseman-Gannon third. The provisional results initially showed Kennedy losing a spot on the standings, but upon correction she was back into second overall.

By Jamie Finch-Penninger