Baker wins third Games gold in road race

Roger Vaughan / AAP News


Georgia Baker makes history in Birmingham becoming the second Aussie female cyclist to win gold on the track and on the road at the same Commonwealth Games.


Australian cyclist Georgia Baker has made history at the Commonwealth Games after a textbook team performance set her up for the women’s road race gold medal.

But Australia’s ruthless and faultless tactics have prompted a backlash from at least one rival, who derided the race as “rubbish”.

The Australian team were all smiles after they set up Baker perfectly for the sprint finish in the 112km race on Sunday at Warwick, south of Birmingham.

“I’m pretty happy – it was a whole team effort and I’m just so proud I could pull it off for the team,” Baker said.

“The girls led me out beautifully.”

It was Baker’s third gold medal of the Games after the team pursuit and points race on the track.

She joins the great Kathy Watt as only the second Australian cyclist to win gold on the road and track at the same Commonwealth Games.

“The way Australian cycling is developing and moving forward, we should be able to do this more in the future,” said Baker, who rides on the road for the Australian BikeExchange-Jayco team.

Australia had several winning options and originally fellow sprinter Alex Manly was their protected rider.

But a change to the finish straight meant they committed to Baker, which was confirmed on the road with 20km left.

Australia shut down any attacks as rivals, especially England’s Anna Henderson, tried in vain to break away from the peloton.

It became clear the Australians wanted a bunch finish and sure enough, Baker was on the back of a six-rider sprint train.

Compatriot Sarah Roy won a bonus bronze medal and Scotland’s Neah Evans was second.

While several riders from other nations congratulated Baker and Roy as they spoke to the media, not everyone was impressed.

“It was a rubbish race. The Australians had a really boring race plan,” Henderson said.

But the Australians were celebrating a true team performance.

“We didn’t have to worry about anyone in the team, we all could trust each other 100 per cent,” R oy said.

“It’s exactly what you want in a team.”

Long-time Australian coach Donna Rae-Szalinski was the team director for the Games road race and devoted considerable time and effort to building their culture.

The Australians clearly had the strongest team, with time trial gold medallist Grace Brown and Brodie Chapman undertaking a power of work to mark any attacks.

Baker, Ruby Roseman-Gannon and Manly were all sprint options.

“We did a lot of welding, you and I, in the workshop,” Chapman said to Brown at the finish.

Brown and Roy paid credit to Henderson, who won silver in the time trial and launched a series of attacks.

“Anna was insanely strong … she definitely put the sting in everyone’s legs today,” said Chapman, who was unaware of Henderson’s criticism.

Earlier, the Australian team announced time trial gold medallist Rohan Dennis had pulled out of the men’s road race on Sunday afternoon with illness.

AusCycling said Dennis had been in discomfort on Saturday morning and was taken to hospital for observation, where he remains.

They also lost sprinter Caleb Ewan as he recovers from shoulder surgery, meaning the men started with only four riders.

Baker’s boyfriend Luke Plapp finished sixth in the road race behind New Zealand winner Aaron Gate.



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