First non-Australian to win the title in 20 years
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling's Giorgia Bronzini completed her almost total domination of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic - the Bay Crits - with a powerful sprint victory on stage four on Sunday, taking her personal total in the race up to three. The former two-time World road champion hit the finish line several lengths clear of the battle for second place once again, which was taken by compatriot Valentina Scandolara (Orica-AIS) ahead of Tiffany Cromwell (Specialized-Securitor).
The race had seen a five-rider breakaway escape early, but the break was caught at the start of the final lap. That's when Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling's Charlotte Becker led Bronzini out to perfection.
"It was another hard race today because the lap was flat and really fast, and you had to brake into all the corners and sprint out again, so it was hard on the legs," Bronzini said.
"We had a breakaway with Linda [Villumsen], and we were happy with that because Linda was the strongest rider in front," the Italian said. "With about five laps to go, the dhb Dream Team began to work, because they have a sprinter, too, and they had no one in front. For us this was good, because I was in the wheel and I could just think about the sprint.
"In the final, Lotte was next to me, to put me in the best position in the last corner," Bronzini said. "I came out of the wheel in the last corner and just sprinted, so I had not so bad legs!"
With an already near-unassailable lead in the general classification Bronzini, who had held the yellow jersey since her victory in stage one, became the first ever non-Australian rider to win the Bay Crits title in the event's 20-year history.
"I feel really good about this" Bronzini said. "I'm really happy to be the first European, non-Australian girl to win the Crits. I'm really happy for that, and it's exciting to go into the race's history like that.
"I'm really happy for the team too," she said. "We won the yellow and the green, too, so we're pretty happy about it"
Bronzini's Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling Team also scored overall victory in the team classification.
"We put our faith in Linda and we were hoping that she could win from the break," said Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling team manager Rochelle Gilmore, herself a three-time Bay Crits champion. "She was the strongest one there and we were just treating it like a one-day race, but in the end it came back together and we could rely upon Giorgia for the sprint.
"I couldn't have possibly asked for more from the team this week, the riders have all been amazing," Gilmore said. "I think we made the race exciting, and we won the stage, the overall classification and the sprint classification. There are some strong riders here so it wasn't easy.
"It's a really good achievement, and a really great start to the season!"