I've always been impressed by cyclocrossers turning out on New Year's Day to race, but of course Aussies also love to HTFU, so on 1st January, they start a week of fast and furious crit racing. Yes, in the beautiful sunshine of the general Melbourne area, by sparkling blue oceans, the first road races of the year took place! And with some big international teams making their debut (well, sort-of), there have been some fun things to watch.
Follow me below the jump for some brief videos, links to photos & race reports from the men's and women's racing - with some new names you might want to look out for the future - and if you see anything yourself, or know more about any of the riders or races you'd like to share, add it into the comments!
Before we start, a bit about the teams. The debut of GreenEDGE was a big story - their new kit (which apparently will change before they hit European shores), and how they'd perform, especially when people outside of Australia will probably never have heard about the other teams. But one thing to remember about the Australian season is that not only are there pro riders riding for all kinds of local/small teams, there are (on the women's side more than the men's) some big Euro-based teams under other names. So while you might not have heard of the Bike Bug team or Degani Bakery Cafe, you probably know Heinrich Haussler, Baden Cooke, Koen de Kort and Greg Henderson - and Mitchelson Wines/Lowe Farm, lead by Allan Davis, is practically GreenEDGE team 2 in disguise. On the women's side, the BikeExchange Dream Team is Rochelle Gilmore's Honda Faren and Total Rush includes Chloe Hosking & Loren Rowney, the Aussie arm of Specialized-lululemon. Check out the startlist and see what I mean.
The Bay Classics are in their 23rd year, and this year it was four stages, with intermediate sprints as well as final placings counting towards overall General Classifications. They're all crits, around courses of between 600m and 2km, 45 minutes racing for the women, an hour for the men, with lapped riders pulled out. Brief Course details are here, or you can download the full racebook - and you'll see they're all around the bay, very beautiful indeed!
Stage 1 - Geelong Eastern Beach
(I can't find a pro clip for the stage - but here's a great home-made video from TheMullosWebcast)
The big stories of the stage were crashes - the women's with 6 laps to go, neutralising the race. Tiffany Cromwell (GreenEDGE) attacked solo at three laps to go, but was chased down and caught by Chloe Hosking (Total Rush), who sprinted for her first stage win at the Bay Crits.
In the men's race, Heinrich Haussler was also involved in a crash (check out Robbie McEwen's video from the bike PoV! Thanks Seahorse!), and despite multiple breakaways, it came down to a 9-man bunch sprint, won by Kiwi Greg Henderson.
|Stage 1 Women's Results||Stage 1 Men's Results|
|1. Chloe Hosking, Total Rush/Hyster, 0:50:33
2. Melissa Hoskins, Greenedge-AIS, + 00:01
3. Rochelle Gimore, BikeExchange Dream Team, s.t.
4. Tiffany Cromwell, Greenedge-AIS, + 00:03
5. Jessie Maclean, Greenedge-AIS, s.t.
6. Kirsty Broun, BikeExchange Dream Team, s.t.
7. Peta Mullens, BikeExchange, + 00:08
8. Rebecca Henderson, Suzuki-Trek, + 00:10
9. Lucy Cauldwell, Carnegie Caulfield, + 00:10
10. Annette Edmondson, Pitcher Partners, + 00:12
1. Greg Henderson, Degani Bakery Cafe, 0:59:58
Stage 2 - Geelong Eastern Park
Stage 2 was all about new stars, and burning heat. On the women's side, GreenEDGE's Jessie Maclean had made a solo attack that lasted 4 laps, and when she was caught, her team-mate Amanda Spratt and Total Rush's Loren Rowney attacked with 5 laps to go. It came down to a 2-woman sprint, and Rowney, who has joined Specialized-lululemon for 2012, took her first win of the year. It was a good day for her team, as Chloe Hosking kept her lead in the GC.
On the men's side, meet Caleb Ewan - at just 17 years old, he's the current Junior World Champion in the omnium, and he beat all the pros in the bunch sprint. If he turns up in the pro ranks in a few years time, you can always say you saw him here first!
|Stage 2 Women's Results||Stage 2 Men's Results|
|1. Loren Rowney, Total Rush/Hyster, 0:46:45
2. Amanda Spratt, Greenedge-AIS, + 00:02
3. Melissa Hoskins, Greenedge-AIS, + 00:31
4. Chloe Hosking, Total Rush/Hyster, s.t.
5. Rochelle Gilmore, BikeExchange Dream Team, s.t.
6. Annette Edmondson, Pitcher Partners, s.t.
7. Isabella King, Pitcher Partners, s.t.
8. Liza Rachetto, Spencers Race, s.t.
9. Kate Finegan, Spencers Race, s.t.
10. Gracie Elvin, Jayco - AIS, s.t.
1. Caleb Ewan, NSWIS, 0:49:27
Stage 3 - Portarlington
You might have noticed that GreenEDGE, while involved in a lot of moves and action in both the men's and women's races, hadn't won a stage yet. This was the day all that would change... at least for the women. It was a tough day, with only 17 riders finishing the stage, and the hills on the course were perfect for GreenEDGE's Shara Gillow, who took an emphatic win (watch out for Gillow at the Australian Road Nationals at the weekend!), while her team-mate Melissa Hoskins took the GC lead from Chloe Hosking by just 1 point!
In the men's race, Anthony Giacoppo attacked early, and was joined by Luke Durbridge - they stayed away all race, and Giacoppo won the race, with Koen de Kort, who'd chased hard, taking third - Allan Davis kept the overall lead, with Giacoppo moving into second
|Stage 3 Women's results
||Stage 3 Men's results|
|1. Shara Gillow, GreenEdge, 0:36:41
2. Grace Sulzberger, Jayco AIS, + 00:23
3. Tiffany Cromwell, Greenedge-AIS, s.t.
4. Amanda Spratt, Greenedge-AIS, + 00:50
5. Jessie Maclean, Greenedge-AIS, + 00:52
6. Sinead Noonan, Jayco AIS, s.t.
7. Melissa Hoskins, Greenedge-AIS, + 00:59
8. Annette Edmondson, Pitcher Partners, s.t.
9. Chloe Hosking, Total Rush/Hyster, s.t.
10. Gracie Elvin, Jayco AIS, s.t.
|1. Anthony Giacoppo, Bike Bug, 1:02:21
2. Luke Durbridge, Mitchelton Wines, + 00:01
3. Koen de Kort, Urban Hotels, + 00:25
4. Johnnie Walker, Degani Bakery Cafe, + 00:28
5. Mark O'Brien, Budget Forklifts, + 01:08
6. Mitch Docker, GreenEdge, s.t
7. Chris Sutton, Urban Hotels, s.t.
8. Allan Davis, Mitchelton Wines / Lowe Farms, s.t.
9. Caleb Ewan, NSWIS, s.t.
10. Steele Von Hoff, Bike Bug, s.t
Stage 4 - Williamstown
So going into the final stage, there was just 1 point on the GC in the women's race, and while GreenEDGE-in-disguise Allan Davis seemed to have the men's GC stitched up, the actual GreenEDGE men's team still hadn't won a stage. Would that change?
In the women's race, Amanda Spratt, who seems to have attacked at least 100 times on every stage, finally took her own stage win for GreenEDGE, with Melissa Hoskins winning the bunch sprint for second and thus the GC, ahead of Chloe Hosking. It was a great race for the team, with Shara Gillow & Jessie Maclean coming 1st & 2nd in the Sprint competition!
In the men's, Heinrich Haussler attacked early on, but couldn't stay away - and once again, the teenaged Caleb Ewan took the stage win. So no actual GreenEDGE win in the race, but their Allan Davis took the GC easily, so they can claim some success - and I'm sure they'd say their big targets are the Nationals, and the upcoming Tour Down Under....
|Stage 4 Women's results
||Stage 4 Men's results|
|1. Amanda Spratt, Greenedge-AIS, 0:44:50
2. Melissa Hoskins, Greenedge-AIS, + 00:03
3. Chloe Hosking, Total Rush/Hyster, s.t
4. Rochelle Gilmore, BikeExchange Dream Team, s.t.
5. Annette Edmondson, Pitcher Partners, s.t.
6. Rebecca Henderson, Suzuki-Trek Women, s.t.
7. Jessie Maclean, Greenedge-AIS, + 00:07
8. Kate Finegan, Spencers Race, s.t.
9. Loren Rowney, Total Rush/Hyster, s.t.
10. Sue Forsyth, Pitcher Partners, s.t.
|1. Caleb Ewan, NSWIS, 0:59:45
2. Leigh Howard, GreenEdge Cycling, s.t.
3. Allan Davis, Mitchelton Wines, s.t.
4. Bernie Sulzberger, Urban Hotels, + 00:04
5. Anthony Giacoppo, Bike Bug, s.t.
6. Chris Sutton, Urban Hotels, s.t.
7. Greg Henderson, Degani Bakery Cafe, + 00:07
8. Robbie McEwen, GreenEdge Cycling, + 00:18
9. Sam Witmitz, Budget Forklifts, + 00:28
10. Nathan Haas, Bike Bug, + 00:30
|Overall General Classification - Women
||Overall General Classification - Men|
|1. Melissa Hoskins, Greenedge-AIS, 32 pts
2. Amanda Spratt, Greenedge-AIS, 29
3. Chloe Hosking, Total Rush/Hyster, 29
4. Rochelle Gilmore, BikeExchange Dream Team, 21
5. Jessie Maclean, Greenedge-AIS, 16
6. Annette Edmondson, Pitcher Partners, 15
7. Tiffany Cromwell, Greenedge-AIS, 15
8. Loren Rowney, Total Rush/Hyster, 14
9. Shara Gillow, Greenedge-AIS, 12
10. Grace Sulzberger, Jayco - AIS, 10
|1. Allan Davis, Mitchelton Wines, 29 pts
2. Caleb Ewan, NSWIS, 28
3. Anthony Giacoppo, Bike Bug, 23
4. Bernie Sulzberger, Urban Hotels, 22
5. Chris Sutton, Urban Hotels, 19
6. Greg Henderson, Degani Bakery Cafe, 16
7. Leigh Howard, GreenEdge Cycling, 13
8. Luke Durbridge, Mitchelton Wines, 10
9. Nathan Haas, Bike Bug, 8
10. Koen de Kort, Urban Hotels, 8
You'd think there might be a break after that, but the day after the Bay Crits is the first race of the Australian National Championships, and with the legs nicely warmed up, the Crit specialists were ready to rock and roll!
On the women's side, it was a triumphant return for Alexis Rhodes. After becoming National Road Champ at the start of 2011, Rhodes had a pretty dreadful season by any standards. Riding for Garmin-Cervélo, she had a horrible crash in Trofeo Alfredo Binda that left her win concussion, and once she was back, had to end her season early to have major surgery to fix the blood supply to her legs caused by scar tissue in her veins. She was looking forward to coming back strong in 2012.... until she received the text message telling her Garmin-Cervélo were folding. Luckily for her, GreenEDGE snapped her up at the end of 2011 - and she's already shown what a great move that was by winning her 5th Crit Champs title, after she escaped with 12 laps to go.
In the men's race, Anthony Giocoppo, riding for Genesys Wealth Advisers, followed up his Bay Crits success with the biggest win of his career, beating superstar Mark Renshaw into 2nd place. It had been an exciting race - with Robbie McEwen, despite vomiting throughout the race (!!) making a huge attack on the last lap, and Giacoppo cheekily using Renshaw for full lead-out skills before overtaking him in the final sprint.
|1. Alexis Rhodes, 0:49:32
2. Melissa Hoskins, + 00:07
3. Annette Edmondson, s.t.
4. Belinda Goss, s.t.
5. Peta Mullens, s.t.
6. Lauren Kitchen, s.t.
7. Kirsty Broun, s.t.
8. Gracie Elvin, s.t.
9. Rebecca Werner, s.t.
10. Joanne Hogan, st.t
|1. Anthony Giacoppo, 1:00:26
2. Mark Renshaw, s.t.
3. Steele Von Hoff, s.t.
4. Bernard Sulzberger, s.t.
5. Malcolm Rudolph, s.t.
6. Baden Cooke, s.t.
7. Shannon Johnson, s.t.
8. Dean Windsor, s.t.
9. Rico Rogers
10. ZakDempster, s.t.
Next up for the Australians - a rest day, and then on the the National TT and Road Race Champions weekend...