Photo gallery: Highlights from the 2017 Bay Crits

by Matt de Neef

As the calendar rolled over to January 1, 2017, some of Australia’s best riders — and many strong internationals — gathered in Geelong for the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic. Known more commonly as the Bay Crits, this season-opening criterium series was shortened from four days to three in 2017, to fit between the new year and the start of the Australian Road Nationals.

The Bay Crits mightn’t be the biggest race meet on the calendar — it doesn’t have a UCI ranking — but it’s a series that’s well loved by the fans and well attended by riders who use it as a hard early-season hit-out. It also has a formidable honour roll — Robbie McEwen won the series six times, Kathy Watt won twice, and Matt Goss, Graeme Brown, Baden Cooke and Dave McKenzie are among the other big names to have won here. In 2017, international riders Ian Bibby (Condor-JLT; UK) and Valentina Scandolara (Ale Cycling; Italy) added their names to that honour roll.

For Bibby, the overall win was a surprising one, not just for spectators and the media but for the Englishman himself. He’d come into the series hoping to deliver fellow new recruit Brenton Jones to victory, but when Jones got caught up in a crash on stage 1, caused by pre-race favourite Caleb Ewan (see video below), Bibby was left to sprint for the victory himself. He did just that, winning stage 3 and eventually going on to win the series overall.

Michael Hepburn (Orica-Scott) took an impressive solo win on the tough Portarlington course on stage 2, before Ewan made amends for his stage 1 crash, winning in Williamstown to close out the series.

In the women’s race, Scandolara, too, was able to turn a stage 1 win into overall success. She won the sprint from a breakway group of three on the opening stage, and defended her lead through to the end of the series. Reigning Australian national champion Amanda Spratt led an impressive Orica-Scott 1-2-3 on stage 2 in Portarlington, and her teammate Jessica Allen won from a breakaway on stage 3.

It was three days of great racing from the elite women and the men, and a great curtain raiser for the Australian Road National Championships which begin in Ballarat today. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this selection of images from the 2017 Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic.

Follow the links for stage reports from the 2017 Bay Crits: Stage 1, Stage 2 and Stage 3. And click through for results.
For more photos from the 2017 Bay Crits, click here.

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