Second place behind Greg Henderson (Degani Bakery Cafe) suggests that Chris Sutton (Urban Hotels) might just be headed for his second overall victory at the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic, having previously won the event in 2010.
Sutton, who his heading into his third season with Sky, showed just a hint of his off-season form last month by winning the NSW Grand Prix Series and admitted he was a definite chance come Wednesday when the ‘Bay Crits' wrap up in Williamstown.
"I've done three solid weeks back-to-back training," Sutton told Cyclingnews following the bunch sprint on Stage 1 on Ritchie Boulevard. "My rides have been a lot more than what they've been in previous years. We've moved the training on a lot, doing these new efforts and they're working out good.
"I hit a PB in the sprint there," he continued. "Power's going good. I'll just rest up now, do a two to three hour ride in the morning and race an hour each afternoon and go from there. Hopefully by the time I get to Nationals I'll be feeling good."
Sutton sat safely in the main bunch for most of the race, before the bulk of the field was eliminated by a brazen attack. With Urban teammate Bernie Sulzberger one of the key conspirators in breaking the field, Sutton suggested it was the "perfect" scenario.
"Bernie was up the road in the break and I just sat there and did nothing and I thought well, if it comes back it comes back – I really wanted to have a sprint," he explained. "I got a bit of a free ride, tried a few moves and it wasn't to be. But I'm happy with that."
Sutton, Henderson, and even Heinrich Haussler (BikeBug) have been able to fly under the radar heading into the season opener, with much of the pre-race focus falling on GreenEdge who are essentially running two teams, in their debut appearance. Sutton, 27, admitted there was a mentality of GreenEdge versus the rest of the field among the peloton.
"It's so hard, there's so many GreenEdge riders here – I'm not sure I think there's about 10 to 15 [nine – Ed.] of them," he quipped. "They've come out pretty gung ho. They've got so many riders here so it's pretty difficult but you just do the best that you can. I'm here for a good week's racing. Racing's what you want to make it. There's a top class field here. "
2011 was a big year for Sutton, having bookended the season with wins at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and then Stage 2 of the Vuelta a Espana. Sutton, who splits his time between Girona, Spain and the Sutherland Shire when back in Australia, admitted that racing the Grand Tour had paid off in terms of the run into this season.
"I think with the Vuelta, getting through that, it gave me really good form into the off season and I just really looked after my body and didn't push it too much. In saying that I still had a lot of fun. I still eat McDonald's all the time," he laughed. "Actually I got a really good food diet off the nutritionists in the team at Sky."