GEELONG, Australia (CT) – Kimberley Wells (High5 Dream Team) and Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) have emerged victorious from the second day of racing at the 2016 Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic after winning their respective races in Geelong’s Eastern Gardens.
Wells got the jump on her rivals in the elite women’s race, launching her sprint early and beating stage 1 winner Gracie Elvin (Orica-AIS) and Sarah Roy (Orica-AIS) over the line.
“I decided in my head to go early and really hit the Orica squad hard because I didn’t want to get boxed in like yesterday through their sheer volume of numbers,” Wells said. “It really hurt to go early and I could feel Gracie there behind me, but I really just dug it in, given the work the girls have done here today and pulled off a win.”
The 45-minute criterium saw several small breakaway groups get clear with the Orica-AIS and Alé squads responsible for much of the aggression. But no group could manage to build a meaningful lead that would last more than a couple of laps.
The race was all back together ahead of the final 1.9km lap, with a sprint looming. Wells jumped early, holding off all would-be challengers.
In the elite men’s race, Caleb Ewan took his second victory in as many days, ousting Brenton Jones (Drapac) and Leigh Howard (Chain Reaction Cycles) in the sprint for the line. It’s the second year in a row Ewan has won the first two stages of the Bay Crits — last year he won the first three en route to overall victory.
Ewan spoke after the race about the chaotic final lap.
“There was people going everywhere because the teams were running out of guys so there wasn’t much organisation,” Ewan said. “It was really windy out there as well so that makes it a little more dangerous and there was a lot of pushing and shoving.
“But I had Alex Edmondson with me the whole last lap and he guided me through perfectly and put me in a great position in the last corner.”
While the final sprint appeared to be something of a formality for Ewan, the result wasn’t always so certain.
After an aggressive start to the race featuring numerous breakaway attempts, a group of seven riders broke clear of the peloton roughly halfway through the hour-long race. A smaller group of three soon split off the front of that group: Pat Shaw, Pat Lane (both Avanti IsoWhey) and Nathan Haas (VTWO, formerly Avanti).
The trio worked well together, building a sizeable advantage, before being joined by Alex Edmondson (Orica-GreenEdge) who bridged across from the chase group.
With Orica-GreenEdge on the front of the peloton and Ewan in perfect position near the front, the leaders’ advantage, once threatening, started to dwindle.
As in the women’s race, the men’s race was all back together as the final lap began, setting things up for a final sprint.
Ewan goes into tomorrow’s third stage of the Bay Crits at Portalington as the overall leader and will once again be the pre-race favourite. Gracie Elvin’s second place in the elite women’s race was enough to see the two-time national champion retain her overall lead ahead of stage 3 as well.