Redemption for Orica-Scott with podium sweep in Portarlington

Australian squad embraces opportunity to amend stage 1 mistakes at Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic

When Orica-Scott swept the podium in Portarlington on Monday on stage 2 of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic, the Australian-registered squad not only dominated but also redeemed.

"Yesterday we made a few mistakes," said stage 2 winner Amanda Spratt. "We didn't use the numbers as best we could. Today we wanted to make amends for that."

Orica-Scott put Jessica Allen on the Richie Boulevard podium on Sunday's opening stage. The 23-year-old was part a three-rider breakaway that slipped away in the final five minutes of the 45-minute stage. She finished third to Valentina Scandolara (Alé) and Shannon Malseed (Holden Women's Cycling).

"It was not a terrible race yesterday," said Spratt. "It's more like we could have done better. There was a situation where we had four riders, and we didn't use that as well as we could.

"We discussed what happened," Spratt added. "It was a constructive talk. [Sport director] Gene [Bates] said to us 'These are the races where you want to make mistakes because you can learn.' Next time we get in that situation, racing in Europe or the National Championships, where it can happen again, we know what to do. It's important to learn from those errors."

It only took 10 minutes for Spratt and her teammates to prove that they are quick studies.

"We decided to be aggressive earlier," said Spratt. "We started the attacks, and we had a situation where we had our whole team in a group of 10. It was perfect."

With each other rider in the move isolated from her team, Orica-Scott undoubtedly had the upper-hand. Spratt and her teammates drove the move to establish a lasting gap before launching further attacks.

"The main aim was to create a situation where there was a number of us in the front, and we could play our numbers a bit more," noted Spratt. "We had the strongest and fittest team for this course."

With the breakaway's advantage firmly founded, Spratt launched what could have been the first of a fresh wave of attacks. Instead, it was the race-winning move.

"The first three or four laps, I drove it really hard to make sure I got the gap. I could see the gap was going out quite quickly," Spratt said. "After awhile I could see the back of the peloton and relax a little bit."

The peloton rejoined the chase group as Orica-Scott deliberately slowed the pace to allow Spratt to grow her gap. Having fully backed Spratt for the win, Spratt's squadmates turned their attention to the minor podium positions in the final few laps.

Jenelle Crooks, a Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic debutante, jumped before the line to snag second place while Dutchwoman Annemiek van Vleuten rounded out the podium.

"That's what we wanted to do, to come out here and show we do work well together," said Spratt. "We were all focused for today and eager to improve on the mistakes from yesterday. We definitely did that.

"I'm really happy, especially to see Jenelle get up there in second," Spratt added. "It's a really great result for her. Our two young riders have both gotten a podium. It shows the depth we have in our team now."

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