Mountain Bike star snags the women's Santos leader's jersey in epic first stage
Ziptrak Stage 1: Seppeltsfield to Tanunda
Women's Race report
In an unexpected result, Peta Mullens won the opening Ziptrak® Stage 1 and snagged herself the Santos Leader's Jersey at the Santos Festival of Cycling. The Victorian has stunning race pedigree in a number of disciplines, namely mountain biking.
The 32-year-old downplayed her chances of taking on the favourites, UCI WorldTour team BikeExchange and the combined Australian super team Garmin-Australia, before the road race at the Seppeltsfield Winery rolled out the gates on Wednesday.
However by the time some of the bunch had beaten the Mengler Hill climb for a second time, Mullens used her vast experience to power towards the Lobethal finish line after a brilliant tactical race.
The 2015 Australian national road cycling, mountain bike and cyclo-cross champion turned it on for the hordes of fans that lined the regional roads of the Barossa Valley to catch a glimpse of the best cyclists Australia has to offer..
“It was great, we have been wanting to get back to racing for a really long time, I know this is pretty much the last time we had a really big bike race,’’ Mullens said, referring to the Santos Tour Down Under where she finished 10th pre-COVID last year.
“I think we just wanted to come here and try to animate the race a little bit and give a massive effort in such trying circumstances.
“We had Isabella Flint in her very first road race and she had a really good dig on the climb and Courtney Sherwell too... I just wanted the girls to be part of the bike race.”
The stage was pristine for one of the most beautiful settings in the Barossa Valley.
Picture perfect, it could have been anywhere in the Mediterranean countryside, but it was the Seppeltsfield Winery which made history on Thursday morning.
All 69 riders signed on for the Ziptrak® stage 1 Seppeltsfield to Tanunda 80.7km bike race on a perfect summer morning.
Veris Racing’s Kirsty Deacon set the race alight early when she gained a handy one kilometre lead at the 55km mark.
She claimed valuable points in Tanunda after earning the Shimano queen of the mountain honours at the top of Mengler Hill.
Deacon later walked off the course with the well deserved Ziptrak® sprint jersey
Individual rider Alana Forster kept Deacon company for long periods before powering away.
The New Zealander dropped Deacon and was well on her way to taking charge of the race, but the peloton responded before she was rewarded with the cost competitive.
Sarah Gigante from Team Garmin Australia claimed QOM honours and the Focus Young Rider jersey after a stunning ride for the 2020 national time trial and road champion.
SANTOS LEADER’S JERSEY: Peta Mullens - Roxsolt LIV SRAM
““I didn’t really come here with GC ambitions to win a stage is really cool and try to protect (teammate) Carlee Taylor who has come out of a (three year) retirement.
ZIPTRAK® SPRINT JERSEY: Kirsty Deacon - Veris Racing
“It was a very hard day and I didn’t even really plan going off the front solo and I just went with it and buried myself to get that second sprint because I could see the bunch coming by.”
SHIMANO KING/QUEEN OF THE MOUNTAIN JERSEY: Sarah Gigante - Team Garmin-Australia
“It was quite aggressive, it was good to see so many different teams mixing it up and so exciting to see all these strong women. I just like going hard over the hills.
FOCUS YOUNG RIDER'S JERSEY: Sarah Gigante - Team Garmin-Australia
“It’s alway good to be wearing the green and gold of team Garmin-Australia and I was sitting patiently for a sprint and in the end the breakaways stayed away.”
MOST COMPETITIVE RIDER: Alana Forster - no team
“I’m very lucky I got the support of the local team Butterfield, they’ve included me with them which is good because racing is not an individual sport.”