EWAN AND HOSKING TAKE THE OVERALL BAY
The weather gods turned out another superb summer’s day as the final stage of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic wrapped up in Williamstown this afternoon.
Pocket rocket Caleb Ewan proved an unstoppable force across all four days of racing and was crowned series champion ahead of a quality field of challengers.
Ewan won the first three stages of the series and achieved a fifth place finish today, but says despite not achieving a clean sweep there is still much to be taken away from this year’s event.
“It’s a little bit disappointing, but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter, we came here and we got the yellow jersey and three stages which is pretty good in my first series as a pro,” Ewan said.
“I think this is the best result GreenEdge has got so far, so I’m happy to deliver that for them,” he said.
The Elite Women’s Williamstown stage was won for a second consecutive year by Giorgia Bronzini in a sprint finish which also saw her teammate and overnight leader Chloe Hosking take 3rd place – more than enough to secure the 2015 Bay Classic title.
photo credit @ Lotto – Belisol
As in stage one’s circuit, the level terrain proved to suit veteran powerhouse Greg Henderson in the Elite Men’s race as he soared away to victory ahead of breakaway companions Chris Hamilton (Avanti Racing Team), Roger Kluge (Total Rush Hyster), Michael Hepburn (Orica GreenEdge) and Sam Dobbs (search2retrain-health.com.au Cycling Team).
It was an exhilarating race from the outset, with the pace set fast and strong from the first lap.
It didn’t take long, however, for the attacking pressure at the front of the peloton to establish the five man breakaway of Henderson, Hamilton, Kluge, Hepburn and Dobbs and see the group power away.
The depleted peloton failed to launch a counter attack to contain the bunch, which proved costly for the likes of Ewan, as Henderson and co. continued to extend their lead with every lap.
With a 46 second deficit reached by the 30-minute mark, there was no stopping the breakaway as they surged closer to lapping the tail end of the peloton.
Henderson and Kluge appeared to be the workhorses in the lead group, rotating turns to ensure the peloton wouldn’t catch them as their companion riders took advantage of their slipstream.
At ten laps to go, Chris ‘Hurricane’ Hamilton attempted to make a swift attack in a bid to pull away from the breakaway, much to the dismay of Henderson chasing behind.
With breakaway efforts much about teamwork and Henderson applying much of the pressure in maintaining their lead from the outset, the attempt to launch an attack by Hamilton at the pointy end of the race was less than appreciated.
Once reigned back in, it was clear that Henderson heavily reprimanded Hamilton for the lack of cooperation in the breakaway.
At two laps to go and with the breakaway still together, it was clear Henderson would be a force to be reckoned with at the finish.
A strong all-round rider, Henderson showed his experience in the final sprint to take out the final stage win ahead of Hepburn in 2nd and the German rider Kluge in 3rd.
Ewan was the first of the chasing peloton riders to cross the line, finishing the race in 5th position and certifying his incredible victory of the Bay Classic for a second time.
“It feels just as good the second time around. It was a pretty tough series and I was lucky to have such a strong team here and it worked perfectly,” Ewan said.
Ben Hill (CharterMason Giant Racing) won the Sprint Ace competition with a final tally of 12pts, 4pts ahead of his closest rival Henderson.
photo credit @ Wiggle Honda
It was a day of exciting racing in the Elite Women’s event as Chloe Hosking fought hard to retain her position at the top of the overall classification over Lauren Kitchen sitting a tantalizing 2pts behind.
Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Down Under) was the eventual winner of the hotly contested final stage as it came down to a bunch sprint in the final 200 meters.
With the likes of dual world champion Bronzini behind her, it was Hosking’s race to lose.
“I’m so proud of my team today – stoked to hold onto the yellow from day one and win my first ever Bay Crits overall title. The year is off to a really great start,” Hosking said.
The pace was applied thick and strong with the peloton averaging around 45km/hr in the initial stages of the race.
With attacks being launched with every lap it was a game of cat and mouse as the quality peloton reigned in any effort to make a break.
It was a fight to the line in an final aggressive bunch sprint as Bronzini launched an incredible attack to win the stage, in the process leading Hosking to the general classification victory.
“The girls were so awesome today. It was so cool to have them back me and come away with the win, third and yellow,” Hosking said.
In second position for the stage was Kimberley Wells (Roxsolt), followed by Hosking.
Hoskings’ consistency across all four stages enabled her to achieve her first Bay Classic series win, 5pts ahead of Kitchen in second.
Despite being unable to overthrow Hosking for the overall title, Kitchen took out the Sprint Ace competition by a commanding 12 points.
photo credit @ Wiggle Racing
JOHN CORNISH MEMORIAL MEN’S SUPPORT RACE
In a thrilling end to the John Cornish Memorial Support Race, Matthew Ross was crowned the winner of the series after four days of incredible racing.
Today’s final stage was won by an individual rider, Dale Woonton in an impressive sprint to the line.
Ross was second to cross the line, increasing his overall lead to 9 pts ahead of rival James Butler, who finished third on the stage.
The Bay Classic Support race is known as the crystal ball into the future of elite cycling and it is likely many of these up and coming riders will be contesting the Elite Men’s event in 2016.
In an additional race for today’s final stage – junior boys and girls competition was also held across the categories of U15 boys, U17 boys and U17 girls.
A breakaway of three riders – Isaac Buckell, Godfrey Slattery and Riley Hart contested the podium placings in the U17 boy’s event, with Slattery just beating Buckell on the line for 1st place.
Graeme Frislie soared to victory in the U15 event, racing alongside the U17 boys for much of the event.
The winner of the U17 girls category was Sarah Gigante, who also rode away from the competitors in her section to race alongside the boys and cruise to an easy victory.
It was an exciting and nail-biting end to another year of exhilarating racing at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic along Victoria’s picturesque bay region.
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