excerpts from Victoria Cycling
In a show of incredible domination, the unstoppable Caleb Ewan has made it three wins from three days and taken a stranglehold on the competition in the Elite Men’s Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic.
26-year-old Peta Mullens also proved to be a force to be reckoned with in the Elite Women’s race, riding away solo to take out the stage.
With the expectation of it being the toughest of the four stages, Portarlington turned on a beautiful summer’s day for spectators and riders as they overlooked the bay on the notoriously hilly circuit.
In only his third day as a professional cyclist for Orica GreenEDGE, 20 year-old Ewan proved once again that he is the man to beat in this year’s event.
“It feels really good to get a few wins here and it’s a huge confidence boost. The main reason I’m doing so well is because I have such a strong team. It’s not often a team would work this hard to help just one rider so it’s amazing having such strong guys behind me,” Ewan said.
Compared to stage two’s atrocious conditions, today’s weather was a welcome relief. Yet with the slight crosswind rolling off the bay combined with the hilly terrain, it still proved difficult for the riders.
“I found this stage tougher because when you sit behind the wheel you are blocked from the wind but in the hills that doesn’t happen as much. But I did feel good today so it all worked out well,” Ewan said.
Having maintained a consistent position within the peloton for the duration of the race, it wasn’t until 5 laps to go that Ewan began to make his move with the support of teammate Cameron Meyer.
Ewan was positioned handily near the front of the reduced 10-man lead group, sitting comfortably on the wheel on Meyer until the final uphill sprint.
Ewan proved again to be an unstoppable force when given the opportunity to sprint to the line.
“Cam got to the front with about 100 meters to go and basically took me to the line. It made my job really easy, I’m very lucky,” Ewan said.
“My team were absolutely amazing again today – everyone does their job. It feels great to be coming in as a professional and already having the support of the team,” he said.
Australian Criterium Champion Steele Von Hoff (Avanti Racing Team) finished very quickly to secure second and Individual Pursuit World Champion Alexander Edmondson (South Australia Sport Institute) took third.
At the end of stage three, Ewan maintains his yellow leader’s jersey for a third consecutive day on 36pts, ahead of Greg Henderson (New Zealand National Team) on 13pts and Ian Bibby (Chain Reaction Cycles) in third on 12pts.
The green sprinter’s jersey is being led by Benjamin Hill of CharterMason Giant Racing on 12pts, followed by Aaron Gate (NZ National Team) on 6pts.
photo credit @ Twitter
In the Elite Women’s event, Peta Mullens dominated the pack on the unforgiving hilly circuit in a show of incredible strength and endurance.
“I’m really happy with my form here and seeing as I’m only going to do a handful of road races this year because I want to focus on my Mountain Biking, getting a win already is great,” Mullens said.
Positioned at the front of the peloton in the initial stages of the race, it wasn’t long before the aggressive attacking nature of the lead riders began to decimate the field.
Choosing to forgo yesterday’s race at Eastern Gardens in Geelong, Mullens’ fresh legs allowed her to apply to pressure early on in the race.
At the halfway point and with several attempts by Lauren Kitchen and Chloe Hocking to form a breakaway contained by the peloton, Mullens made her decisive attack.
Bursting out of the peloton, she established a lone breakaway that was not challenged by the tiring group behind her.
With five laps to go and an ever-growing lead of 26 seconds developing, there was no stopping this amazing endurance rider as she soared to a comfortable victory in tough conditions.
“When I went broke away I was pretty knackered – I thought surely if I’m hurting the other girls are hurting and I went straight into tempo mode because I knew I didn’t have it in me to keep going that hard. So with four laps to go I actually eased up a bit then thought better of it as I don’t like to race that way and instead left it all out on the track,” Mullens said.
Today’s effort was her best performance at The Bay Classic and is also her tenth consecutive year competing at the event.
Amanda Spratt and Giorgia Bronzini led the peloton into the final lap, with the yellow jersey of Chloe Hosking among the leading riders in an attempt to maintain her position in the overall classification.
It was a dramatic race to the line with Bronzini managing 2nd place and Lauren Kitchen 3rd.
Bronzini’s effort in the final sprint ensured that teammate Hosking maintained her yellow jersey ahead of Kitchen who is sitting only two points behind on 24.
The green sprinter’s jersey was also returned to Kitchen for another day, sitting comfortably 7pts ahead of her closest rival in Joanne Hogan (Roxsolt) on 5pts.
With an additional race being held today at Portarlington it was a one, two, three podium finish for the Melbourne Cycling League in the Masters race as Andrew Stalder dominated the field in a lone breakaway to clench victory.
Stalder launched an attack at four laps to go ahead of a small breakaway group of Nick Kennedy, Peter Casey, Brian Darby, Julian Fleurus and Ryan Vecht.
He achieved his impressive win 30 second ahead of teammates Brian Darby in second and Julien Fleurus in third to make it a Melbourne Cycling League domination.
In the second race of the day teammates Angus Lyons and Matthew Ross of VIS/Jayco/John West/Apollo Team demolished the field in the John Cornish Memorial Support Race to secure the win for Ross to maintain his position atop the overall classification. It was a replica of their 1-2 solo victory on Stage 2 at Eastern Gardens.
Joe Moses of JLT Condor rounded out the podium, with James Butler who is second in the overall classification, coming in fourth.
TOMORROW – WILLIAMSTOWN – DAY 4
With the Elite Women’s event being especially tight at the top, tomorrow is sure to bring out the best in all the riders as the Mitchelton Bay Cycling classic winds up for another year in Williamstown.
It will definitely be another exciting day of racing to conclude the first event on Victoria’s outstanding summer of road cycling calendar.
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