PORTARLINGTON, Australia (CT) – Pat Shaw (Avanti IsoWhey) and Valentina Scandolara (Alé) have overcome windy conditions in Portarlington to take victory in their respective races on day three of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic.
After being one of the early aggressors in the elite women’s race, Scandolara made her way into a three-rider breakaway that would go on to contest the victory. The Italian moved aggressively through the final corner, getting the jump on former teammates Gracie Elvin and Sarah Roy (Orica-AIS) before sprinting to victory.
“Today my main concerns were Peta Mullens and Wiggle, and most of all Orica because I know them – I’ve been in the team for two years and I know they are really strong,” Scandolara said. “In the end, to win the sprint is just amazing for me – it’s great.”
Scandolara had been part of a two-rider escape group with former teammate Amanda Spratt (Orica-AIS), the pair getting clear 15 minutes into the 45-minute criterium. A chase group of five formed behind the duo roughly 10 minutes later: Elvin, Roy, last year’s winner in Portarlington Peta Mullens, Chloe Hosking (both Wiggle High5) and Lizzie Williams (Orica-AIS).
With 10 minutes to go the two lead groups came together, creating a seven-rider group that had built an unassailable lead over the rest of the field. Elvin and Scandolara broke clear of that lead group with three laps to go, being joined by Roy shortly after. The trio would stay clear to contest the victory.
“Gracie’s really fast and Roy came across and was helping her the last lap so I tried to save energies [sic.] because I knew I needed all my energies to beat Gracie,” Scandolara said. “I think it worked out well.”
In the elite men’s race, Pat Shaw took an impressive sprint victory ahead of Dan Fitter (State of Matter/MAAP), Sam Spokes (Drapac) and a reduced peloton. For Shaw, a veteran of the Australian domestic racing scene, the victory was a long-time coming.
“I’ve been semi-pro for 10-plus years and it takes you this long to get a good win,” Shaw said.
Avanti IsoWhey were active throughout the hour-long criterium with Chris Hamilton joining Dan Fitter in the race’s first meaningful move. After 10 minutes out front they were caught, prompting Australian U23 road race and time trial champion Miles Scotson (Budget Forklifts) to go clear in a long-range solo move.
A chase group formed behind Scotson, including Jack Haig (Orica-GreenEdge), who had crashed earlier, and dual stage winner Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge), the latter doing plenty of work on the front of the chase group.
The chase group was soon caught before Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge), a past winner on the tough Portalington course, set off in search of Scotson. The two made contact on the course’s steep climb with 15 minutes to race.
National U23 criterium champion Chris Hamilton attacked across the gap, reaching the two leaders with three laps to go, and with two laps to go, the lead group had swelled to four with Dutchman Peter Koning (Drapac) joining the fray.
But as the bell sounded for the final lap, it was all back together and a reduced bunch sprint was on the cards. Ewan, the pre-stage favourite, would have to settle with fourth after his earlier work out front while Shaw dashed to a long-awaited victory.
“I’m sitting in the wheel, on Caleb [Ewan], getting the best run anyone could dream for, and [it’s] just lucky I got the job done,” Shaw said. “I was just saying in the last corner ‘do not crash’. I knew I had it – I’ve been working hard on that sprint.”
Caleb Ewan will go into tomorrow’s final stage of the 2016 Bay Crits in Williamstown wearing the yellow leader’s jersey for another day and is expected to win his third overall title. In the elite women’s field, Gracie Elvin ensured another day in yellow courtesy of her second place on stage 3.