You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Allen wins first Australian cycling title

AAP logoAAP 3/01/2017 Roger Vaughan

Four years after she nearly quit cycling in despair, Jessica Allen has won her first senior Australian title.

The 23-year-old Orica-Scott recruit produced her second storming ride in as many days, breaking away from the field to win the women's criterium on day one of the national road championships.

It came a day after the West Australian also made a late solo attack to win the last race of the Bay Classic series.

Allen and Jenelle Crooks, another rising star signed by Orica-Scott midway through last year, attacked a small lead group more than halfway through the 33km circuit race in Ballarat.

The 2011 junior world time trial champion then went clear by herself with five circuits left of the 30-lap race on Sturt St.

She won her first senior Australian title by a whopping 41 seconds, with Kendelle Hodges winning the bunch sprint for second ahead of Shannon Malseed.

Orica-Scott, Australia's top team, had four riders in the top 10.

Allen had a dream start to her international career - after claiming the junior world title, she won the Amy Gillett Foundation scholarship and that gave her a stint of racing in Europe.

It led to a 2013 professional contract in France, but that proved disastrous.

"That really cracked me, to be honest - at the end of the season I wasn't really sure where I was going with my cycling," Allen said.

"I was a bit too young to be over there for that long.

"I got pretty lonely.

"So the last couple of years have been a bit hit-and-miss, really."

Allen spent some time as a pilot for paracycling star Jessica Gallagher, before regaining her road form.

Orica-Scott signed her midway through last year and she has gone from strength to strength.

While Tuesday's win in Williamstown gave her confidence, Allen was stunned to claim the national title.

"My (winning) salute yesterday was pretty rubbish, so I had to top that one," she said.

Allen will also have a domestique role for Orica-Scott in Sunday's nationals road race.

Orica-Scott team director Gene Bates said Allen was a year ahead of schedule with her form.

He added Allen had made it easy for the team to recruit her.

"Jess has taken the race by the bullhorns and taken the gold," he said.

"She's been a junior world champion, she has the stuff - that doesn't happen by mistake.

"Then she got lost in women's professional cycling for a few years, which happens all too often.

"So we knew there was something there."

Also on Wednesday, Alex Porter and Nicola MacDonald won the under-23 criterium championships.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon