Tom Scully (John Trevorrow Cycles/Chifley Hotel) claimed victory on the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic's third stage, after outpacing Under 23 World Time Trial Champion Jack Bobridge (SASI Team O'Grady) in a three-man sprint. Many expected a small group could dominate the day's stage – with Scully, Bobridge and Johnnie Walker (Team Degani Cycling Café) doing exactly that – but nobody predicted the chaos the men's race descended in to.
An already action-packed race became controversial when Scully, Bobridge and Walker lapped the main peloton, which included race leader Graeme Brown (Urban Hotels). With a group of nine riders sitting between the leaders and the bunch, officials decided to pull the main peloton which consisted of Brown, Robbie McEwen and other big-named riders.
While McEwen, already annoyed about confusion caused by officials earlier in the race, shook his head after the decision and later described the race as a farce, Brown made his feelings considerably more clear. The now former race leader swerved towards official Doug Armstrong as he was shown the red flag, landing Brown a $250 fine. That capped off an eventful evening for Brown, after he had earlier exchanged words with new race leader Chris Sutton and Baden Cooke, both of the Skilled/Lowe Farms team.
"I wasn't in agreement with the decision of the commissaire," said Brown. "I'm going to have to win tomorrow and these guys get nothing, so that's my Bay Classics gone."
Brown confronted Armstrong to discuss the matter after the race, meanwhile Scully was simply soaking up the praise from his win. "I knew about the carnage in the race but I just kept doing what I had to do. I was never confident, but you always hope you can give it a go," Scully said. "It is fantastic riding here. Aussie bike riders are the best in the world."
Bobridge was philosophical after his second placing. He admitted to selecting the wrong gear when exiting the final turn, but said he was happy with the outcome regardless.
"Unfortunately I came through the last corner in too big a gear and it took me longer than I thought to wind it up," said Bobridge, wearing his new Garmin-Transitions gear. "Another couple of metres and maybe I would have got it. It was a bit of a bad choice of gear but oh well, that happens and you learn from it. I'm still happy with what I got considering it's a pretty demanding course."
The race began in a more orderly fashion. After Walker's first lap push was neutralised, Great Britain's Jeremy Hunt (Skilled/Lowe Farms) took a solo lead, putting the pressure on Urban Hotel's squad to chase him and hopefully exhaust the leading team to give Sutton or Greg Henderson an advantage at the end.
The peloton hunted down Hunt after a few laps then a strong attack came from Matthew Wilson (Jayco VIS) and Baden Cooke (Skilled/Lowes Farms). Cooke claimed the first sprint as Wilson rolled in for second while checking his rear tyre as Brown sprinted in for third.
Wilson was forced to stop and change rear wheels, but was allowed to re-join Cooke in the lead. However, the peloton had started making inroads during his time out. As the gap narrowed Henderson made the jump across, followed by Brown and Sutton.
Race goes off the rails
It was here that the race began to derail. A crash in the final turn set off a chain of events which led an official to stop a few riders, but then much of the field stopped, leading race announcers to believe the event had been neutralised. Up front, Sutton continued to circle with a solo lead. As it became clear the race was continuing, riders scrambled to get back in the action and McEwen was obviously frustrated by the happenings.
The team impacted most by the incident was Urban Hotels. The full squad had controlled the peloton beforehand, but afterwards its riders were scattered throughout the mixed-up peloton. As Urban Hotels riders gradually made their way back to the front of the peloton a group of riders formed off the front which would lead to the next unusual chain of events.
Henderson attacked in a move that was followed by Bobridge and Sutton, amongst others. Another crash in the same corner changed the course of the race: while Scully continued to circle by himself for two laps, Bobridge and Walker jumped back on his tail – utilising regulations allowing them to restart in the same position after a crash.
Sutton was one of several riders who didn't re-join in their rightful place, dropping back towards the main bunch.
"There was a bit of confusion here and there," said Bobridge. "Me and Johnny jumped back in the front because when we crashed we had a gap, so it was only even that we jump back in where we fell out."
Sutton showed no animosity towards Bobridge and company for following the rules, but asked for officials to be clearer in future. "What I'm confused about is when Jack Bobridge attacked, there was Jeremy Hunt, myself and Baden Cooke and we were on their wheel when they crashed," said Sutton. "Then, somehow, they jumped back in the break so we were a bit dumbfounded how that happened.
"They were just saying we could have jumped back in the break," added Sutton. "They've got to be clear about that. It changed the race totally, but obviously they did the right thing straight away and won – I'm not complaining about that – but [officials] just need to be a bit clear about what's going on."
With the trio circling out front closing in on the peloton a chase group formed behind. The second group considered of Henderson, Mark Langlands (Prime Estate/The Freedom Machine), Dean Windsor (Urban Hotels), Sutton, Joel Pearson (Genesys Wealth Advisers), Douglas Repacholi (Budget Fork Lifts), Koen de Kort (O2 Networks), Matthew Goss (Team Degani Cycling Café) and with its presence established, Armstrong made the call to pull the remainder of the riders from the event as they were lapped.
After the top three places were decided, Brown watched on from the sidelines to see how bad the end result would be to his end campaign. He seemed reasonably satisfied within the context of the situation, however it was Sutton that was left grinning as he claimed the yellow jersey by three points.
"I'm in the lead, I'm pretty happy with that," said Sutton. "Obviously we had intentions of coming here and making it as hard as possible and we did that. We were pushing the limits."
Mackie celebrates, but Kelly claims close win
Emma Mackie (Race) thought she had the women's race wrapped up as she celebrated after crossing the line, however close review of video footage by officials appointed Helen Kelly (Jayco VIS/NSWIS) as the victor. While Mackie and Kelly waited for confirmation on the winner, they were unanimous on one thing: praising break-away mate Tiffany Cromwell (Honda Dream Team).
"Tiff was an engine out there," said Mackie. "Full credit to her, she should have won this race."
Cromwell was the motor behind the break-away's success, driving the trio lap after lap to successfully hold off the peloton. Cromwell tried twice in the closing laps to get away from the two favoured riders in a sprint, yet still had the energy to attempt the sprint and push both riders to the finish.
"I kind of knew, I glanced across to my right as I threw [my bike] and I knew I had it but only by a centimetre," said Kelly. "I actually wanted to go a bit earlier with my sprint, but there just wasn't much room. In the end I just had to risk it – it was a small gap and I took it."
MB Cycles showed it intended to make the race difficult for the Honda Dream Team in the opening laps, with Jessie MacLean and Davina Summers sharing pace setting duties. The quick pace set however would see the squad burn many of its matches early.
Cromwell rode off the front seven laps into the race, with Kelly following close behind as the Jayco AIS team, less a tired Kirsty Broun on today's stage, took control back in the peloton. The pair's margin expanded as race leader Rochelle Gilmore (Honda Dream Team) shadowed Belinda Goss (Pitcher Partners) at the front of the peloton.
There were many surges within the peloton over subsequent laps, but the short straights prevented the majority of these from turning into attacks. The only exception was Mackie who powered down the road as the peloton was reduced to just 19 riders, such was the pace of the field.
Jenny MacPherson (Race) and Nicole Whitburn would both attempt to get away, but the Honda Dream Team's patrol in the peloton proved too effective for anyone to escape. Knowing the odds were against her in a sprint finish, Cromwell attempted to get away over the closing laps as Goss crashed out of the event.
With her main sprint rival sidelined, Gilmore's only competition in the sprint for fourth was teammate and lead-out rider Peta Mullens. The pair celebrated as the crossed the line next to one another with the shattered remnants of the peloton in their wake.
"I think we've got the series wrapped up so we're going to sleep well tonight and just go hell for leather for the win tomorrow," said Gilmore.
|1||Tom Scully (John Trevorrow Cycles/Chifley Hotel)||12||pts|
|2||Jack Bobridge (SASI team O’Grady)||10|
|3||Johnnie Walker (Degani Cycling Cafe)||8|
|4||Koen de Kort (O2 Networks)||7|
|5||Dean Windsor (Urban)||6|
|6||Chris Sutton (Skilled/Lowe Farms)||5|
|7||Greg Henderson (Mazda)||4|
|8||Matthew Goss (Degani Cycling Cafe)||3|
|9||Joel Pearson (Genesys Wealth Advisers)||2|
|10||Douglas Repacholi (Budget Fork Lifts)||1|
|1||Chris Sutton (Skilled/Lowe Farms)||22||pts|
|2||Graeme Brown (Urban)||19|
|3||Greg Henderson (Mazda)||18|
|4||Matthew Goss (Degani Cycling Cafe)||17|
|5||Robbie McEwen (Mazda)||14|
|6||Tom Scully (John Trevorrow Cycles/Chifley Hotel)||12|
|7||Joel Pearson (Genesys Wealth Advisers)||11|
|8||Jack Bobridge (SASI team O’Grady)||10|
|9||Koen de Kort (O2 Networks)||10|
|10||Daniel Braunsteins (Degani Cycling Cafe)||8|
|10||Johnnie Walker (Degani Cycling Cafe)||8|
|1||Tom Scully (John Trevorrow Cycles/Chifley Hotel)||9||pts|
|2||Graeme Brown (Urban)||8|
|3||Mathew Hayman (Mazda)||5|
|1||Degani Cycling Cafe||33||pts|
|5||John Trevorrow Cycles/Chifley Hotel||12|
|6||Genesys Wealth Systems||11|
|7||SASI Team O’Grady||10|
|11||Budget Fork Lifts||1|
|1||Helen Kelly (Jayco VIS/NSWIS)||12||pts|
|2||Emma Mackie (Race)||10|
|3||Tiffany Cromwell (Honda)||8|
|4||Rochelle Gilmore (Honda)||7|
|5||Peta Mullens (Honda)||6|
|6||Megan Dunn (Jayco VIS/NSWIS)||5|
|7||Chloe Hosking (MB Cycles)||4|
|8||Isabella King (Plan B Racing WA)||3|
|9||Lauren Kitchen (Jayco AIS)||2|
|10||Liza Rachetto (Pitcher Partners)||1|
|1||Rochelle Gilmore (Honda)||31||pts|
|2||Chloe Hosking (MB Cycles)||22|
|3||Megan Dunn (Jayco VIS/NSWIS)||18|
|4||Peta Mullens (Honda)||16|
|5||Kirsty Broun (Jayco AIS)||14|
|6||Isabella King (Plan B Racing WA)||13|
|7||Helen Kelly (Jayco VIS/NSWIS)||12|
|8||Emma Mackie (Race)||11|
|9||Belinda Goss (Pitcher Partners)||10|
|10||Tiffany Cromwell (Honda)||8|
|1||Rochelle Gilmore (Honda)||8||pts|
|2||Ashlee Ankudinoff (Jayco VIS/NSWIS)||6|
|2||Tiffany Cromwell (Honda)||6|
|5||Plan B Racing WA||15|
|1||Chris Steffanoni (Unattached/Vic)||12||pts|
|2||Matthew Jensen (Unattached/Vic)||10|
|3||Scott Liston (Unattached/Vic)||8|
|4||Ethan Kimmice (NSWIS Team 1)||7|
|5||Tobyn Horton (Unattached/Vic)||6|
|6||Angus Tobin (NSWIS Team 1)||5|
|7||Neil van der Ploeg (Unattached/Vic)||4|
|8||Thomas Donald (Degani Bakery Cafe)||3|
|9||Jarrod Moroni (Unattached/Vic)||2|
|10||Steven Martin (Unattached/Vic)||1|
|1||Ethan Kimmice (NSWIS Team 1)||21||pts|
|2||Mitchell Benson (Unattached/WA)||17|
|3||Steven Martin (Unattached/Vic)||13|
|4||Po Hung Wu (NSWIS Team 2)||12|
|4||Chris Steffanoni (Unattached/Vic)||12|
|6||Jarrod Moroni (Unattached/Vic)||12|
|7||Matthew Jensen (Unattached/Vic)||10|
|8||Oliver Le Grice (Degani Bakery Cafe)||8|
|8||Scott Liston (Unattached/Vic)||8|
|10||Angus Tobin (NSWIS Team 1)||8|
|1||Chris Steffanoni (Unattached/Vic)||9||pts|
|2||Mitchell Benson (Unattached/WA)||5|
|3||Joshua Carlson (Total Rush)||4|
|1||NSWIS Team 1||29||pts|
|3||NSWIS Team 2||12|
|4||Degani Bakery Cafe||11|
|5||John Trevorrow Cycles/Chifley Hotel||7|