A cool, calm, and collected performance from Australian Cycling Team stars Georgia Baker and Alexandra Manly has delivered them the women’s Madison National Championship for 2023 to the delight of a sold-out Darebin International Sports Centre.
The favourites lived up to expectations for the 120-lap, 30-kilometre Madison, winning by a final margin of 35 points ahead of Chloe Moran and Lauren Perry.
It wasn’t all clear headway for best friends Baker and Manly early on in proceedings, not winning a sprint until the fourth time of asking with 80 laps to go.
The pair then began to rattle off consecutive sprint wins before launching an attack from the peloton after winning the eighth sprint with 40 laps to go.
Now solo at the front of the race, Baker and Manly patiently rode within reaching distance of the peloton until winning the next two sprints.
The team representing KASK then surged to finally gain the lap, with Baker holding the power down through the pack to immediately launch another sneaky, yet unsuccessful attack.
With the race situation firmly in their control, Baker and Manly were able to take a back seat for the final two sprints and soak up their first national championship as a pairing.
“Alex and I have been a pair for quite a while now, so it’s quite nice for us to go out there and execute the skills we’ve been working on for a lot of years,” Baker said.
“(The race) definitely didn’t (blow apart early) and the other teams were really strong and tactically really smart.
“It’s great to see the depth that we have here in Madison in Australia.”
The 2023 Madison National Championship is the third time both have won the Madison green and gold bands, with Baker winning in 2016 and 2020 and Manly in 2017 and 2021.
The final step on the podium and bronze medal went the way of Alyssa Polites and Alli Anderson on 22 points, narrowly ahead of Amber Pate and Nicola Macdonald.
Manly won the first Austral Wheelrace of her career earlier in the night, rolling Baker at the line in a photo finish.
Both found themselves together for the entire six laps of the Austral from their 15-metre (Manly) and scratch (Baker) starts.
The duo only made the catch of the front of the race as the bell rang to signify one lap to go, largely thanks to the combined efforts of Perry and Moran at 50m and 30m respectively.
“I had a lot of help out there – it was a really tough race,” Manly said.
“We only got around in the last lap really so big thanks to all the girls that helped out.”
Blackburn Cycling Club’s Amy Masters held on for third from a 150m start.
New Zealand sprint star Ellesse Andrews collected the UCI Sprint and UCI Keirin wins throughout the night.
South Australian Paige Squire picked up the JW17 Austral Wheelrace win from a 195m start.