2015 Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic: Stage 1 Photo Gallery

It was a searing summer’s day for the commencement of the 2015 Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic at Geelong’s Eastern Beach, which saw 2013 champion Caleb Ewan and Chloe HOSKING take out the top honours. In the elite men’s event, race favorite Caleb Ewan showed his spectacular form to virtually lap the field and claim stage one ahead of New Zealand powerhouse, Greg Henderson. Ewan and Henderson broke away from a severely depleted peloton with 20 minutes remaining in the race, and held on to secure the top two placings. The commissaires forced the peloton to finish their race early and battle out the minor placings three laps ahead of the leading pair, so as to ensure the two leaders had no hindrance as they sprinted for the line. It proved to be a dramatic sprint to cap-off day one?s racing, with Henderson unable to catch an unstoppable Ewan in the final 50 metres. Ian Bibby of Chain Reaction Cycles managed to out sprint the remaining peloton to seal 3rd place, followed by Luke Parker in 4th and Jonathan Cantwell in 5th. ?I certainly felt [ill] riding with Greg, he?s so strong. I just got in the right move ? he?s done that before, raced it like that and won so when he went I knew that could be the race, so I jumped on it straight away,? Ewan said. ?I thought he [Henderson] was going to sit on my wheel for the rest of the last lap but he rolled through and that worked perfectly for me?. ?It felt so good. There is a lot of pressure on me coming back to these crits and that?s lifted off my shoulders when I win,? Ewan said. In his first outing as a fully-fledged professional, Ewan is looking to make a solid impact throughout the remaining three days of racing in the hope of taking out the overall classification. ?I?m going to do all four races and try and take the series,? he said. Despite another day of soaring temperatures expected on Saturday, today?s windy and hot conditions had little effect on the riders. ?The heat wasn?t too bad when we were riding because of the wind but when I stopped I could really feel it and it was really intense,? he said. Michael Hepburn rode an impressive race for Orica GreenEDGE to set the pace at the front of the peloton from the outset, ensuring Ewan was ready to chase down any rider who made an attack. Thanks to the work of his team, when Henderson fired at 25 minutes to go, Ewan was able to contain him and establish the breakaway together. ?When I attacked I attacked really hard and we went full gas for 10 minutes and once the gap went out, we organised with Caleb to do full lap turns to smooth everything out and away we went,? Henderson said. 38 year old Henderson, best known as the lead-out man for Andrea Greipel (Lotto Belisol), showed commendable form throughout the race but was simply unable to match Ewan?s speed in the final stretch. ?I hit 1500 watts in the sprint and I haven?t done that for a long time and he came past me like I was tied to lamp post – I can?t beat him in a sprint, I?ll have to find another way to beat him. Make sure he?s not with me, just keep on attacking?, Henderson said. With an intermediate sprint win and overall stage win achieved on day one, Ewan was awarded both the yellow leaders jersey and the green sprinters jersey. Orica GreenEDGE has also established a clear lead in the team?s classification ahead of Total Rush Hyster in 2nd and the New Zealand National Team in 3rd. In the Elite Women?s event, Chloe HOSKING, who won the second stage of The Classic in 2014, displayed impressive form for her new team Wiggle Down Under to take out the win ahead of breakaway companions Lauren KITCHEN (Roxsolt) and comeback kid Elizabeth Williams (Orica-AIS). ?I was in an ideal position having Giorgia (Bronzini) behind me, and that was one of the main reasons I wanted to go to Wiggle this year, to take a bit of the pressure off myself being the main sprinter,? Hosking said. ?My first race, I got a win and it?s pretty nice,? she said. Earlier in the race, an 11 woman breakaway formed before a concerted chase by Miranda Griffiths (Holden Women’s Cycling) brought the groups together. No sooner had the peloton come together, Commonwealth Games mountain biker Peta Mullens attacked and formed the winning break of Hosking, Griffiths, Lauren KITCHEN, and Lizzie Williams. Hosking looked to be struggling in the 39 degree heat, placing second in the second intermediate sprint behind Kitchen. ?I backed myself even though I didn?t pick up that intermediate sprint but it let me test my legs and see how it was going to go, I was confident in the end,? Hosking said. Kitchen also achieved the green sprinters jersey after day one. Hosking will enter the second day of racing at Geelong’s Eastern Gardens with the yellow leader?s jersey, as she tops the overall classification. The win also ensures that Wiggle Down Under lead the teams event for the second consecutive year. Last year?s overall 2014 Classic winner and Wiggle Down Under member, Giorgia BRONZINI, missed the major break of the day and is sure to come out firing on Saturday. An individual rider for 2015, Mullens was the most aggressive rider of the day and thoroughly deserved her fourth place finish – sitting at the front of the five women breakaway to ensure the group stayed away. In the first race of the day, the John Cornish Memorial Support Race was taken out by James Butler of Giant Hampton, who attacked from the outset in the 45 minute event, to achieve the victory over fellow breakaway member James Love. Butler fought aggressively to establish a breakaway along with Matthew Ross, but they were chased down by an impressive Love with 15 minutes to go. Despite the constant pressure from Love and Ross, Butler proved too strong in the final sprint to take out the stage win and therefore take the lead in the overall classification. The action continues at Eastern Gardens from 11am Saturday, with sizzling temperatures once again expected.

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Images copyright Con Chronis [ims-gallery id=XrYdGewRPucc layout=lightbox number=all linkto=file]  

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