Bronze for Watts after strong criterium ride in Ballarat

A BREAKAWAY move in Wednesday’s Road Nationals Under 19s Women’s Criterium might not have seen Emily Watts score the top prize but it helped her claim a bronze medal.

OUT IN FRONT: Emily Watts leads the way in the women's under 19s criterium at the Road Nationals. Watts finished third while eventual winner Sarah Gigante (right) would go on to lap the peloton. Photo: CYCLING AUSTRALIA TWITTER

OUT IN FRONT: Emily Watts leads the way in the women's under 19s criterium at the Road Nationals. Watts finished third while eventual winner Sarah Gigante (right) would go on to lap the peloton. Photo: CYCLING AUSTRALIA TWITTER

On the streets of Ballarat the former Bathurst club rider and Western Region Academy of Sport graduate had broken away from the peloton in the early stages of the half-hour top speed test.

For almost a third of the race Watts was out on her own before she was joined out in front by Sarah Gigante.

Gigante upped the tempo inside the final third of the race and broke clear of the Lithgow native.

The Victorian went on to lap the fractured peloton and claim an easy victory, but the battle for the minor placings was heating up.

Watts was joined by two other riders in the dash for home.

While Watts missed out narrowly on a silver medal to South Australia’s Sophie Edwards the was enough power left in the legs to take third spot.

Remarkably the criterium isn’t even Watts’ number one focus at the Road Nationals.

“I definitely did not expect that. I was wondering beforehand if I should even go in it, and after talking to my coach about it I thought it would be a good warm up for the time trial,” Watts said.

“I said to my dad afterwards that I could probably go home happy now but I’ve got the time trial still to do, and that’s the one I was focused on.”

Watts wasn’t certain whether her early move was going to stick but she received plenty of encouragement to stay clear of the peloton.

“It was a bit daunting alone in front. I wasn’t sure if I was going to stay away but my dad was there screaming to just ‘go, go, go’,” she said.

“By the time the two others got to me the peloton was all strung out and a couple of the girls had dropped out.

“That was a very, very close finish.”

Watts’ campaign at the Road Nationals continues with her pet event, the time trial, which takes place on Friday.

Saturday’s 70km road race also awaits Watts.

In Thursday’s time trial events Emilie Miller takes on the Para Women’s 12 kilometre course.

Her nationals campaign gets underway from 12pm.

Bathurst Cycling Club member and Orange native Harrisen Bryant is the other rider in action on Thursday, racing in the Under 19 Men’s Time Trial over 21.6km.

Bryant also raced on Wednesday against a red hot under 19s criterium field.

Stephen Cuff won the event in a thrilling spring victory over Blake Quick.

Matthew Rice was not far away as he filled out the podium.