Patience paid for Jessica Allen in Williamstown on Tuesday. With two laps left to race on stage three of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic, Allen attacked from a three-rider breakaway and handily hung on to take the win.
"I felt that I was the strongest in the breakaway, so I was very patient, which is not one of my strengths," Allen told reporters, including Cyclingnews, as she awaited the podium presentation. "I thought: 'With two laps to go, I'm just going to give it everything.' And that's what I did."
The 23-year-old reached the finish line six seconds ahead of Lucy Bechtel (Specialized Women's Racing) and 12-seconds ahead of Ellen Skerritt (Alé Cycling). Race leader Valentina Scandolara (Alé Cycling) won the bunch sprint for fourth place to take out the series overall.
"I needed to make more points than ORICA to win the overall jersey," said Scandolara, who started the final stage with a two-point advantage over Portarlington winner Amanda Spratt (ORICA-Scott). "That was my target for today. If the bunch came together, of course, I also would have gone for the win, but the breakaway was perfect because my teammate was in it, sitting on."
The racing winning escape forced clear at the mid-point of the race. Allen countered the catch of her teammate Annemiek van Vleuten. Skerritt marked Allen, and Bechtel bridged across. The trio quickly gained 30-seconds on a peloton that seemed unable or unwilling to organise a concerted chase.
"We were only two points behind GC, but we thought for us to get the stage win would be more in our favour," said Allen. "If Spratty happened to get up the road without Vale, that would have worked great for us, but we wanted to be aggressive right from the start, and that's what we did."
The scenario also suited Scandolara. Allen started the stage in ninth overall, eight points behind Scandolara. To take the jersey from Scandolara, Allen would have needed to win the stage with Scandolara finishing outside the top six.
"Luckily I had my team to back me up perfectly today," said Scandolara. "That was the plan, to control the race and see what would happen in the breakaway – if we would like it or not. I did like the breakaway, so we let it go and then I went for the sprint."
With five laps remaining, the Novotel Geelong / Japan team attempted to shut down the move. Alé blocked the chase efforts, and the gap held steady around the half-minute mark.
Allen used a slight rise on the back half of the course to put in a digger. She carried an eight-second advantage over Betchel and Skerritt into the bell lap.
In Sunday in Portarlington, Allen was part of a three-rider breakaway. She finished in third place. On Tuesday, she came out on top.
"I wasn't in good position on Sunday, and I was with two sprinters," said Allen. "I wasn't confident, and I didn't back myself, which I learned to do today. I put myself in the break and said I could win this. I was a bit more patient and we used our numbers a lot better."
Twenty eight seconds later, Scandolara shot across the line, pulling on the fabric of her yellow jersey by way of celebration.
"I had one of the best sprinters in the world leading me out, Chloe Hosking," said Scandolara. "It was an easy job for me today, well – less difficult.
"Last year I slipped to third [from second] on the last stage, but I was going for the stage wins because ORICA was all over the place," Scandolara added. "I never really went for the series. This year winning the first stage, I wanted to."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Jessica Allen (Aus) Orica-Scott||0:45:24|
|2||Lucy Bechtel (Aus) Specialized Women's Racing||0:00:06|
|3||Ellen Skerritt (Aus) Alé Cycling||0:00:12|
|4||Valentina Scandolara (Ita) Alé Cycling||0:00:28|
|5||Yumi Kajihara (Jpn) Novotel Geelong / Japan|
|6||Sarah Roy (Aus) Orica-Scott|
|7||Minami Uwano (Jpn) Novotel Geelong / Japan|
|8||Amanda Spratt (Aus) Orica-Scott|
|9||Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Orica-Scott|
|10||Chloe Hosking (Aus) Alé Cycling|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Valentina Scandolara (Ita) Alé Cycling||24||pts|
|2||Jessica Allen (Aus) Orica-Scott||21|
|3||Amanda Spratt (Aus) Orica-Scott||18|
|4||Yumi Kajihara (Jpn) Novotel Geelong / Japan||16|
|5||Sarah Roy (Aus) Orica-Scott||14|
|6||Peta Mullens (Aus) Hagens Berman | Supermint||13|
|7||Shannon Malseed (Aus)||12|
|8||Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Orica-Scott||11|
|9||Lucy Bechtel (Aus) Specialized Women's Racing||10|
|10||Jenelle Crooks (Aus) Orica-Scott||10|