The 2016 Bay Cycling Classic was a fun weekend with some intense, action-filled racing, but the final stage was a bit lukewarm in comparison as the 900 metre circuit became more of a processional for Orica-Greenedge and leader?s jersey wearer Caleb Ewan. The race was tightly controlled for the majority of the laps by the Australian World Tour team, and then they performed a near perfect leadout for Ewan, who had time to look behind him before the line to see where all his competition had gone.
The early stages saw the peloton being lead around by a combination of Luke Durbridge and Jack Haig (both Orica-Greenedge), with Nathan Haas (VTwo) often at the pointy end, trying to initiate moves, only to be jumped on immediately by the particularly attentive Durbridge. This pattern would continue throughout the race, with Haas growing increasingly frustrated as his attempts to make the race were continually shut down.
Eventually, Josh Taylor (State of Matter/MAAP) managed to hit the peloton and establish a slim gap, driving solo for several laps before he was joined by intermediate sprint jersey wearer Robbie Hucker (Avanti IsoWhey) and the two continued to hover off the front of the Orica-Greenedge led bunch. Occasionally, Nathan Haas would try to bridge across, which provoked the response from Durbridge, and that would shave a few seconds off the gap, but the action rarely got much more exciting than that for the healthy crowd that lined the roads. With just over half the race gone, the two escapees got reeled in by the peloton, with a shortlived solo move from new Avanti IsoWhey member Sam Crome only lasting a few laps before he was shut down. Credit to Taylor, Hucker, Crome and Haas who tried hard to insert some life into what was otherwise not the most fascinating spectacle.
With all the attacks getting neutralised swiftly, all the attention went to the sprint. With 4 laps remaining, the riders were busy jockeying for position and a few hit the deck as they went around a roundabout, holding up the majority of the peloton. Jake Kauffmann (Budget Forklifts) explained the frustration of the riders caught behind. ?We were trying to argue the fact that there were four laps to go, they said by the time we came in it would be three to go. I?m not a commissaire, I don?t know the rule book off by heart, so we just had to go with what they were saying. It?s a bit disappointing with this being our last race for the team, and I know Sammy Witmitz was keen to go for the sprint.?
That type of niggle was also present in the final sprint, with riders fighting it out behind Caleb Ewan to get in a position to challenge the young Orica-Greenedge star. Brenton Jones (Drapac) had to come from a position a few lengths back in the pack, and despite again showcasing his rapid finish, was unable to make up the gap to Ewan. Jones spoke to Peloton Caf? after the stage.
?Yeah I was a few places behind Caleb again (coming into the final corner), Pat Shaw (Avanti IsoWhey) was doing his best to chop left and right? as he does best. I came to the finish going ?well, you can do that, but I?m still going to beat you to the line?, which I did and he was back in 3rd overall. So that?s what I wanted and that?s what I got.?
Jones had been confident of his ability to take the overall win across the series, but was far from disheartened after his 2nd overall finish. ?Yeah, it wasn?t to be, but three 2nd places over the three stages and 2nd overall, for the first time since I won the race in 2014, is not a bad performance. Caleb?s in great form, he won a World Tour stage last year and I?ve only been beaten by a better rider on the day. I?m content with how my form is leading into the season and it?s a big year ahead. The team?s riding really well at the moment, a great start for Drapac.?
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