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Alexis Rhodes Road Race Champion in Australia
By Imelda March
Date: 1/8/2011
Alexis Rhodes Road Race Champion in Australia

Australian Road Championships - Elite & U23 Women
Alexis Rhodes Claims Australian green & gold jersey in sprint finish - Carlee Taylor wins U23

Alexis Rhodes     Photo © 2010 Bart Hazen

Five and a half years ago 20 year old Alexis Rhodes (also with Garmin-Cervelo) lay in the intensive care ward of a German hospital after sustaining severe injuries, including seven broken bones in her back and chest trauma in the 2005 road accident that claimed the life of her friend and Australian team mate Amy Gillett.

Alexis Rhodes  Photo © 2011 Jarrod Partridge

Today Rhodes screamed for joy after winning the gold medal and being crowned Australian women's road champion at the end of the 102km race in Buninyong, Victoria. Rhodes won in a time of 3:00:18 ahead of her Garmin-Cervelo team mate and former champion Carla Ryan from Queensland with Victorian Joanne Hogan third.

It's been a long haul for the gutsy 26 year old South Australian who in October last year was considering retirement after being disappointed with her performance at the World Championships in Geelong and being without a pro contract for 2011.

"That's bike racing - that's what you love about the sport and what you hate about the sport," said Rhodes who now has a two year deal to ride with Garmin-Cervelo which she hopes will help her gain selection for Australia for both the 2011 World Championships and the 2012 Olympic Games. "I just don't like riding around half-arsed and running top-20 ... it's a hard sport and to not be competitive, it's not worth it.

"I'm not the poor girl who was injured," said Rhodes who has endured an emotional roller coaster since the accident. "It wasn't so much the sympathy ... I don't like making up the numbers, so to be known as 'aw, the poor girl who got by a car', it's not what I wanted to be. "I wanted to be winning races," she said adding that today's result is a career best. "One hundred per cent - to win a national road championship and then wear the jersey in Europe, it's something you dream about."

HTC's Judith Arndt    Photo © 2011 Jarrod Partridge

Rhodes admits her win almost didn't come off after former World Champion Judith Arndt of Germany upped the pace in the final lap putting pressure on the six other riders in the lead group. "Judith has really put it in the gutter and I'm not half the bike rider Judith is," said Rhodes. "I was dropped and then luckily for me, Jo (Hogan), Carla (Ryan) and Judith all started looking at each other.

Rhodes flies up the left side of the road... Photo © 2011 Jarrod Partridge

and wins with team mate Ryan celebrating with Rhodes Photo © 2011 Jarrod Partridge

"I was able to get back on again and I was really patient, because I knew this was a really fast finish in a headwind," she explained. "I knew I had to wait and wait and wait and then managed to get the win." Ryan was also celebrating at the finish despite being pipped by Rhodes who she had recommended to her team as a rider to sign.

"I was so rapt, crossing that finish line and seeing her on the other side of me," said Ryan. "For Alex, it's her first national road championship after the things that have happened (to) her in the past, she still has an amazing future.

Alexis Celebrates and takes the Garmin-Cervélo team's first win of 2011
Photo © 2011 Jarrod Partridge

"She's been just a bundle of strength," said Ryan. "Seeing her commitment and dedication to the girls she's ridden for ... she's really strong, I'm looking forward to having her as a team-mate."

The ten lap race of the Buninyong circuit featured both elite and U23 division women with another South Australian, Carlee Taylor, 21, winning the U23 title with her seventh place across the line. She was 55 seconds behind Rhodes with Sinead Noonan, also from South Australia 17th to claim the U23 silver medal and Lauren Kitchen (Jayco-AIS) from NSW 21st and the third U23 to finish.

Australian Championships Podium: Carla Ryan, Alexis Rhodes and Joanne Hogan

2011 Australian Road Championships
Elite Women's Results 
102 km -  3:00:18
1 Alexis RHODES SA Norwood C.C. AUS19841201  -   3:00:18
2 Carla RYAN QLD Lifecycle CC AUS19850921
3 Joanne HOGAN VIC St Kilda Cycling Club Inc AUS19820609

4 Judith ARNDT GER Germany GER19760723
5 Vicki WHITELAW ACT Canberra Cycling Club AUS19770102

Team mate Carla Ryan second congratulates Rhodes after the Garmin-Cervélo team's one - two finish. Photo © 2011 Jarrod Partridge

6 Tiffany CROMWELL SA Norwood C.C. AUS19880706
7 #1 U23 Carlee TAYLOR** SA Norwood C.C. AUS19890215 - 0:55 #1 U23
8 Ruth CORSET QLD Townsville Cycle Club AUS19770509
9 Bridie O'DONNELL VIC St Kilda Cycling Club Inc AUS19740429 - 1:51
10 Amanda SPRATT NSW Penrith CC AUS19870917
11 Annabel LUXFORD QLD Lifecycle Cycling Club AUS19820302 - 3:23
12 Taryn HEATHER SA Mildura-Coomealla C.C. AUS19820831 - 3:44
13 Jessie MACLEAN ACT Canberra Cycling Club AUS19851017 - 6:45
14 Peta MULLENS VIC Bendigo & District CC AUS19880308
15 Trudy VAN DER STRAATEN NSW Bicisport AUS19680925
16 Gracie ELVIN ACT Canberra Cycling Club AUS19881031
17 #2U23 Sinead NOONAN** SA Sturt Holdfast Marion C.C. AUS19920220
18 Amber HALLIDAY SA Norwood C.C. AUS19791113
19 Shara GILLOW QLD Sunshine Coast CC AUS19871223 - 9:46
20 Samantha HEMSLEY ACT Canberra Cycling Club AUS19841122 - 11:06
21 #3 U23 Lauren KITCHEN** NSW Port Macquarie Cycling Club AUS19911121
22 Grace SULZBERGER TAS West Tamar CC AUS19881218
23 Katherine O'SHEA VIC Dirt Riders AUS19790322
24 Nikolina ORLIC QLD Hamilton Pine River Wheelers AUS19850512
25 India MCLEAN NSW Northern Sydney CC AUS19810711
26 Laura MEADLEY ACT Canberra Cycling Club AUS19840204
27 Rebecca WIASAK ACT Canberra Cycling Club AUS19840524
28 #4 U23 Angela MCCLURE** SA Norwood C.C. AUS19901211
29 5 Caitlin TURNER** NSW Peloton Sports Inc. AUS19891009
30 #6 U23 Alexandra CARLE** ACT Vikings Cycling Club ACT AUS19910205
31 Laura LUXFORD QLD Lifecycle Cycling Club AUS19860205
32 Clare DALLAT VIC Carnegie Caulfield CC AUS19770328 - 12:41
33 Rebecca LOCKE VIC Coburg Cycling Club Inc AUS19800114 - 14:52
tarters 78
abandons 45

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