The Mitchelton Bay Crit series is on this week along the coast to the west of Melbourne, predominantly around Geelong and Williamstown. It’s a great last-minute tune up for racers competing in the National Road Championships, and also a very early season hit-out for other top Aussie professionals riding for World Tour or Pro Continental squads. I headed down to Geelong’s Eastern Park to catch Stage 2 of the race, and snapped some photos and video to capture the scene.
While the Northern Hemisphere pros are stuck inside on trainers, or getting muddy in cyclocross races, the Aussies are lucky enough to get warm conditions and some early opportunities to burn the off-season away. As a result this series attracts some big name international riders, including Orica-GreenEdge stars Matt Goss (who won this stage), Luke Durbridge, Leigh Howard, Michael Hepburn and Mitch Docker. Garmin-Sharp’s sprinter Steele Von Hoff also made an appearance, along with newly-uncontracted former Orica-GreenEdge sprinter Allan Davis. There were also plenty of up-and-coming riders including Caleb Ewan, and local talent from the Australian National Road Series (NRS).
Matt Goss claimed the victory after a strong team performance from his Orica-GreenEdge team. Luke Durbridge was particularly aggressive throughout the race, but Michael Hepburn and Mitch Docker were also active. Leigh Howard finished third, behind young sensation (and future GreenEdge rider) Caleb Ewan (Subaru-NSWIS).
The women’s Elite field was equally star-studded, fielding former world champion Giorgia Bronzini and her Wiggle-Honda team; the world’s #1 ranked women’s team Orica-AIS; Specialized-Securitor; and Team Vanderkitten.
Stage winner Chloe Hosking (Roxsolt) surprised Bronzini with an early sprint to grab victory, with track star Annette Edmondson (Orica-AIS) third. Gracie Elvin, riding for the Australian national team, and former Orica-AIS rider Tiffany Cromwell (newly signed with Specialized-Securitor) completed the top five.
All in all it was a fun day of spectating and an easy way to catch some of the best riders in the world. I definitely recommend checking the race out if you live in or around Melbourne.