Gracie ELVIN (Orica-AIS) caused an upset today at the first stage of the 2016 Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic as she outsprinted more fancied sprinters in Kimberley Wells (High 5 Dream Team) and Peta Mullens (Wiggle Honda), and even the teammate she was leading out, Sarah Roy.
The tight hotdog circuit in Geelong saw a cool display from the Australian World Tour squad, as they used their numbers to control the race in what was made a tough affair by the blustery wind blowing in from the bay. The peloton was thinned after an early crash took down a chunk of the field, and whilst no one appeared to be too hurt, the riders that went down couldn?t get back on. With the attrition of the race reducing the field further, it became clear that the race would be decided in a sprint, as the skirmishes off the front were shortlived. Notably Kimberley Wells had to shut down a number of moves herself as she was isolated, which may have sapped her legs for the final sprint.
Nonetheless, there was no taking the credit away from Elvin and Orica-AIS, who came to the front at all the important stages, and launched to sprint from the right position to win a very close finish and take the leader?s jersey into the weekend. Gracie ELVIN spoke to Peloton Caf? after the race.
?It?s awesome, I wasn?t expecting it today, I was actually riding in support of other teammates, but I saw a good opportunity at the end, and I thought I?d do one more kick to lead (Lizzie Williams) out, but I lasted all the way to the line. I feel a little bit bad for taking the win off one of my teammates, but I think they?re really happy for me and it?s good to have the jersey in the team.?
Elvin was quick to praise the overall strength of the team for the win, and identified the team spirit as one of the key factors to their success. ?We had a really awesome team training camp in November, we did a lot of hard training, but also team bonding and getting-to-know-you things, we?re all super close and have a great time off the bike. To be able to race together so well is just great.?
Whilst a win is always welcome, Elvin and Orica-AIS have bigger fish to fry this season, and the Bay Crits are a stepping stone to those goals. The pre-season has gone well for Elvin, and with this victory proving her form is strong, she looks set for a top season. Elvin added, ?I?ve done a lot of volume in the pre-season, so lots of kilometres, lots of climbing. It?s going to be a tough season in Europe, so I?ve done everything I can to be in the best shape possible. I was a bit nervous coming in here, I hadn?t done much intensity and no racing. The Bay Crits are a great way to build that intensity and race form, and really lets you build for later in the year. As long as you stay upright!?
The Mitchelton Bay Criteriums continue tomorrow in Geelong, with the stage a less technical affair, and also including a climb on the 1.9 kilometre circuit. Wiggle Honda sprinter Chloe HOSKING will be starting tomorrow, adding more star power to the already illustrious field, who will all be looking to topple leader Gracie ELVIN from the top step of the podium.
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