Cycling race starts in controversy

Cycling race starts in controversy

The opening stage of the National Capital Tour has been thrown into chaos after a traffic mishap forced results from the women's time trial to be erased.

In an embarrassing gaffe for organisers, a car crash on Friday morning during peak hour prevented race marshalls from taking up their spots on the course and allowed traffic on the road.

The decision to null and void the stage was made after National Road Series leader Katrin Garfoot had cruised to a 46-second victory.

Riders departed from the National Museum carpark from 9.30am, with the 17.2km course taking them out on Lady Denman Drive to Cotter Road and back.

National Capital Tour race director Mick Fay said up to 20 per cent of riders were affected by the traffic going on the road, which forced them to ride in the bicycle lanes.

''There was a vehicle collision which forced some of our marshalls to be not in place at the allotted time, which allowed traffic to get on the road,'' Fay said.


''(The riders) were a bit disappointed, but we felt the decision was in the best interests of the race because some riders were impeded by the traffic and it's not a fair result.

''The technical director of the race made that decision and I've decided to support that decision.''

Garfoot was the second-last rider to depart and crossed the line in 23:41.55, ahead of Felicity Wardlaw (24:27.11) and Ruth Corset (24:35.19).

''I didn't even know about the crash, but I'm a bit disappointed and will just try to concentrate on tomorrow,'' Garfoot said.

''I can't do anything about the result so I just have to run with it.

''Not having the time from today will change the race for me tomorrow, but the best thing for me is to focus on tomorrow and get organised the best I can.''

Marshalls were in place for the men's time trial to proceed as planned at 1pm.

Two hundred of Australia's leading riders, 150 men and 50 women, have converged on Canberra for the three-day event.

Saturday's marquee 120km road race had already been changed because of a rock fall on Corin Road.

The challenging stage, with several difficult hill climbs, has been extended by 12km and will now finish at Namadgi National Park.

''I'm looking forward to it because I like the hills,'' Garfoot said.

''It should make it very interesting.''

Lee Gaskin

Lee Gaskin is a sports reporter at The Canberra Times.

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