CYCLIST Lauren Kitchen has began 2018 with much success, placing second in the Australian National Road race championships in Victoria ahead of the Tour Down Under in Adelaide.
The 102 kilometre circuit was in Buninyong near Ballarat where Kitchen raced for her team, FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope and came away with the impressive result.
The hotly contested event had the biggest depth in the field in recent years. It was a great warm up for the Port Macquarie woman ahead of the four stage tour event in Adelaide.
Kitchen and her teammate, Shara Gillow, stuck to their plan and nearly stole the national title, only to be denied by a classy ride from Tibco rider Shannon Malseed.
Lauren was part of the early break, which formed in the opening 2km of the race.
“It was definitely a big day out for me,” she said. “I rode the whole race in the breakaway.
“I knew it was the best situation for Shara if I was in front, and for myself to be able to make the selection in the last few laps.”
Kitchen said they had to reduce the Mitchellton Scott numbers to be in with a chance in the finish. The plan worked perfectly, with Shara making the elite selection of 6 riders to bridge to Kitchen’s group as the leaders got the bell for one lap to go.
I’m really happy with this medal. I mean I was close to the win and that’s hard to take but I’m also really happy to win silver this year.Lauren Kitchen
“I really was hoping that Shara could sneak away between the climb and the finish straight but it just didn’t quite work out that way,” she said.
Lauren’s breakaway companions were dropped as they started the final climb of Mount Buningyong, leaving them as the team with the most numbers in the final selection of seven racing towards the finish.
“Kat Garfoot attacked with about 2km to go and it was looking like the win, but Shara buried herself to give me the chance to sprint for the win,” she said.
“We caught Kat with less then 300 metres to go and Dash (Malseed) was just too quick for me.”
After spending 90km in the breakaway, a silver medal felt like a win for Kitchen and a great platform to build on for upcoming races.
“I’m really happy with this medal. I mean I was close to the win and that’s hard to take but I’m also really happy to win silver this year,” she said.
“I didn’t get many big results last year and this is definitely a turning point for me and a great way to start the year with FDJ.”
Kitchen will ride as part of the Uni SA Australian National team at Tour Down Under from January 11 to 14.
“This will be a bit different. We have four stages and a really strong team,” she said.
“I hope I’ll be in the top five overall, but I’d also love to win a stage.”