Australia! Where the winters are sunny, and the racing starts on New Year's Day, in the Victoria sunshine. Yes, it's Bay Crits time - this year called the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic. I'm unapologetically going to keep the words brief on this one, because the media - videos, race reports and photos - is excellent for this race. It's full of good times!
Now, there are some things to know about the Australian racing. The teams are limited to five riders each, for both the men and the women - and this means that some riders you'd expect to see in trade teams are riding for Australian teams, some of which have been made up for this block of racing (Greg Henderson and Koen de Kort riding for Degani Bakery Cafe, for instance) or riding solo (Tiffany Cromwell and Gracie Elvin, eg). This becomes very important later on... And I'll be linking in two videos per stage - 2 minutes and 25 minutes, which show both the women's and men's races.
And before we start, a little plea. In the spirit of Click-Thru Thursdays (Amber Pierce's devastatingly simple plan for fans to support women's cycling by taking a few minutes each weeks to click through from team to sponsor websites, or follow and 'like' teams and riders, or click through to news and videos - read the link for more detail!), why not go to the race website, and click through to the race sponsors' sites, so they see the impact of helping the race? And, of course, if you, for example, fancy buying some of title sponsor Mitchelton Wines' products, why not drop them an email to tell them it's because of the cycling connection? It's such a small action, but if every tenth cycling fan does this...
RACE 1: RITCHIE BOULEVARD CRITERIUM
This stage is all about the tight left-hand turns, and was notable for it being the first ever race of Rochelle Gilmore's brand-new Wiggle-Honda Dream Team, and the chance to see how last year's young superstars Melissa Hoskins (the Orica-AIS rider who was winning medals on the track in the summer's Olympic Games) and Caleb Ewan (the 18-year old sprint-star who nearly won the GC last year, riding for Bikebug)
It was a blistering start to the three-stage race, with crashes, drama and some great results. Don't just believe me, watch the videos - or read the race report on Cyclingnews - and the photos on the race website
Such great racing, with the two small teams laying down the marker for the biggest team of the race, Orica, to pick up...
|Women's Race 1 Results
||Men's Race 1 Results
|1.||Kimberley Wells (Specialized-Securitor) 0:45:54||Caleb Ewan (BikeBug)1:00:21|
|2.||Melissa Hoskins (Orica-AIS) s.t.||Jens Mouris (Orica-GreenEdge) s.t.|
|3.||Rochelle Gilmore (Wiggle-Honda) s.t.||Graham Briggs (Great Britain) s.t.|
|4||Kate Finegan (Specialized-Securitor) s.t.||Greg Henderson (Degani), s.t.|
|5.||Nicole Whitburn (Liv/Giant) s.t.||Thomas Palmer (DRAPAC) s.t.|
|6.||Peta Mullens (Anytime Fitness Trek) s.t.||Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge) s.t.|
|7.||Sarah Roy (Crino Cycles-Casa & Botega) + 00:04||Simon Yates (Great Britain) + 00:03|
|8.||Loes Gunnewijk (Orica-AIS) + 00:05
||Brenton Jones (Huon Salmon-Genesys) + 00:03|
|9.||Jenny McPherson (Liv/Giant) + 00:06||Anthony Giacoppo (Huon Salmon - Genesys) + 00:06|
|10.||Kirsty Glover + 00:08||Jonathan Cantwell (BikeBug) s.t.|
If you've never heard of those two winners, it's because they're all about the Australian domestic circuit - for now! Caleb Ewan will be the European season at the Australian team base, getting a taste of Euro-style racing with the Cycling Australia WorldTour Academy - and Phil Liggett thinks he's the next Mark Cavendish! He's only 18 - but watch out for him at the Junior Worlds.
Kimberley Wells, on the other hand, has an all-too-familiar story for women cyclists. Read this great interview with her on Cyclingnews, about how she's balancing medical studies with cycling, while hoping to get to Europe somehow. Fingers crossed we get to see a lot more of her,
RACE 2: PORTARLINGTON
Race 1 was flat, but race 2 had a hill in it. It was going to be a tough one, especially in the heat - but the Orica teams were determined to show what their riders (whether riding for the team or not) were made of.
|Women's Race 2 Results
||Men's Race 2 Results
|1.||Tiffany Cromwell + 0:45:54
||Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge) 1:01:10
|2.||Melissa Hoskins (Orica-AIS) + 00:29
||Kristian House (Rapha Condor JLT) + 00:02
|3.||Peta Mullens (Anytime Fitness Trek) s.t.
||James Oram (Grays Online) s.t.
|4||Gracie Elvin, + 00:30
||Steele Von Hoff (Huon Salmon-Genesys) + 00:19
|5.||Carla Ryan (Crino Cycles-Casa & Botega) s.t.
||Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge) + 00:21
|6.||Grace Sulzberger, s.t.
||Caleb Ewan (BikeBug) s.t.
|7.||Taryn Heather (Jayco Apollo VIS) + 00:33
||Graham Briggs (Great Britain) s.t.|
|8.||Shara Gillow (Orica-AIS) s.t.
||Anthony Giacoppo (Huon Salmon - Genesys) s.t.
|9.||Sarah Roy (Crino Cycles-Casa & Botega) s.t.
||Rico Rogers (Total Rush/Hyster Racing) s.t.|
|10.||Miranda Griffiths, s.t.
||Shaun McCarthy (Team Budgetforklifts) s.t.|
It was the first ever Bay Crits win for Orica-GreenEdge men's team - and on the Orica women's side, Hoskins' second place took her into the yellow jersey - while Ewan's sixth place meant he kept his after Stage 1. But the women's race didn't just has great racing (which women's cycling fan doesn't love a Tiffany Cromwell suicide break?) it also (like last year) gave us the first road racing polemica of the year, as other teams complained about confusion - and possible collusion - over the number of riders in Orica-AIS jerseys, when there's only meant to be 5 riders per team. Here's the Cyclingnews report on it - it's not the first year questions like this have been raised, and it's a really hard problem to solve, because either the race allows more riders per team (unfair on smaller teams) or sets up randow teams, like on the men's side (apparently against UCI regulations) or excludes riders just because they are on Orica.
RACE 3: WILLIAMSTOWN
The final race of the series, and a relatively simple, but very fast circuit, evidenced by how few riders finished in each race. Could young Ewan keep the yellow jersey to the end? Could Hoskins win for the second year in a row? Let's find out!
|Women's Race 3 Results
||Men's Race 3 Results|
|1.||Melissa Hoskins (Orica-AIS) 0:39:18||Mitchell Docker (Orica-GreenEdge) 0:54:19
|2.||Peta Mullens (Anytime Fitness Trek) s.t.||Harry Carpenter (SASI) s.t.
|3.||Kimberley Wells (Specialized-Securitor) s.t.
||Greg Henderson (Degani Bakery Café) + 00:04
|4||Nicole Whitburn (Liv/Giant) s.t.
||Shaun McCarthy (Team Budgetforklifts) s.t.|
|5.||Emily Collins (Wiggle-Honda) s.t.
||Caleb Ewan (BikeBug) s.t.|
|6.||Tiffany Cromwell, + 00:04
||Jonathan Cantwell (Bikebug) s.t.
|7.||Gracie Elvin, s.t.||Samuel Witmitz (SASI) s.t.
|8.||Joanne Hogan, s.t.
||Luke Davison (DRAPAC) + 00:06
|9.||Lauren Kitchen (Wiggle-Honda) s.t.
||Jens Mouris (Orica-GreenEdge) s.t.|
|10.||Carla Ryan (Crino Cycles-Casa & Botega) s.t.||Graham Briggs (Great Britain) s.t.|
So, with three races down, the final result was another win for Orica-AIS on the women's side, and Caleb Ewan showing he's not just got speed, but also tactics - young Aussie talent, ready to take on the world!
|1.||Melissa Hoskins (Orica-AIS) 32 points||Caleb Ewan (Bikebug) 23
|2.||Peta Mullens (Anytime Fitness Trek) 23||Greg Henderson (Degani Bakery Café) 14
|3.||Kimberley Wells (Specialized-Securitor) 20
||Mitchell Docker (Orica GreenEdge) 12
|4.||Tiffany Cromwell, 17
||Jens Mouris (Orica-GreenEdge) 12
|5.||Nicole Whitburn (Liv/Giant) 13
||Graham Briggs (Great Britain) 12
|6.||Gracie Elvin, 11||Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge)12|
|7.||Rochelle Gilmore (Wiggle-Honda) 8
||Harry Carpenter (SASI) 10
|8.||Carla Ryan (Crino Cycles-Casa & Botega) 7||Kristian House (Rapha Condor JLT) 10|
|9.||Kate Finegan (Specialized-Securitor) 7
||Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge) 10|
|10.||Emily Collins (Wiggle-Honda) 6
||Shaun McCarthy (Team Budgetforklifts) 8|
So, what's next? Well, the men are racing the Jayco Sun Herald Tour, but the biggest race for the antipodeans will be the Australian National Road Championships, 9th-13th January. It's the usual circuit in Ballerat - so one for the tough Classics types and breakaway riders. Watch out for Orica to want to keep the national jerseys in both their teams - and for everyone else to take them away from them! it's always a fun race, and I'll tell you the results and post videos after the race... enjoy!