A fast finishing Caleb Ewan beat local favourite Chris Sutton and Thomas Palmer (Drapac) to take round one of the NSW Grand Prix. In an entertaining race with numerous breakaways, it was Ewan who had the fastest legs coming on the outside of Sutton to snare a narrow win.
Mark Renshaw lead the race on the downward entry to the finishing line but saw Sutton and then Ewan surge past him as he faded to tenth. Palmer was a wheel behind Ewan and Sutton as he snuck home for third ahead of Aaron Donnelly (Huon Genesys).
Ewan was one of many to animate the race from early on as he made his way into little breakaway groups but with the strength of the field the race was destined to finish in a sprint.
"Anything could happen, there were so many strong riders out there with all the NRS teams so it was always going to be hard to stay away," Ewan told Cyclingnews at the finish.
Wearing the GreenEdge colours, Ewan benefitted from his teammates presence in the race who also put pressure on rival teams with Leigh Howard and Wes Sulzberger trying their luck off the front.
"It was good to race with them [Orica-GreenEdge] and it's good to have them there and when they're in the breaks I can take it easy," he said.
Having completed a long season Ewan was realistic about backing up tomorrow with the winner of the series the rider who accrues the most points over the two races with ten points awarded for victory.
"It’s going to be hard to do it again because it's so late in the season, we've only just started training again," Ewan said.
Renshaw and Sutton were billed as the stars of the show and conserved their energy until the final lap while for the local riders the high pace set by the peloton proved too much with several unable to finish the race.
The early laps of the race saw numerous riders try to get away and Lachlan Morton with a new shaved head was out in front leading the bunch and looked like causing an upset until a broken chain ended his day.
Sutton will be after another podium place as he looks to secure a third title in the criterium series.
Happy Birthday Wiggle
In the women's event it was an all Wiggle-Honda affair with the team celebrating their first birthday by claiming all three places on the podium. Lauren Kitchen was active all day as she made her way into breaks and spent time out front alone with her team in complete control.
While small groups were forming over the final 10 laps of the race, Wiggle-Honda was aggressive in getting their riders to the front and shut down any attempts to reel Kitchen in. Team owner Rochelle Gilmore was delayed in starting the race as she broke her pedal just prior to the start gun firing.
With her teammates getting out in front, it was primarily Gilmore and Joanne Tralaggan who controlled the bunch.
"It's a really tough course with the wind which definitely made it a challenging race. There's been some good training in the last few weeks and with the team here today, so really happy to take the win," Kitchen told Cyclingnews.
"Having the numbers is always the best thing when in you're a break like that and we're all strong here today and it just happens to me that was the one that went away. I put my head down and I knew that had to pull off the win for Wiggle," she said.
Tiffany Cromwell tried her luck with aggressive racing but it was the numbers of Wiggle that ensured Kitchen the win. Chloe Hosking and her new Roxsolt Sydney Uni team were active all day but didn't have the firepower of Wiggle.
Having swept the podium, Wiggle is in a strong position to take the overall series at Wollongong tomorrow. "We'll sit and consider it [the overall win] and look at the points and see where everybody else finished up," explained Kitchen.
Recently crowned NZ criterium champion Emily Collins was quick to show off her new kit to crowd and is well placed for a high overall finish.
"We want a Wiggle rider standing on top of the podium tomorrow, of course I'd like to be that one but we'll have to see who is the best rider which rider suits the course the best."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Caleb Ewan (Aus) NSWIS||20||pts|
|2||Chris Sutton (Aus) Team Sky||18|
|3||Thomas Palmer (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling Team||16|
|4||Aaron Donnelly (Aus) Huon Salmon Genesys||15|
|5||Ryan McAnally (Aus) Data#3 Cisco||14|
|6||Scott Law (Aus) NSWIS||13|
|7||Nicholas Yallouris (Aus) Skoda St George||12|
|8||Grayson Napier (NZl) Nelson||11|
|9||Mark Renshaw (Aus) Belkin|
|10||Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Lauren Kitchen (Aus) Dream Team Rabobank||20||pts|
|2||Charlotte Becker (Ger) Wiggle-Honda||18|
|3||Emily Collins (NZl) Wiggle-Honda||16|
|4||Loren Rowney (Aus) Specialized-Securitor||15|
|5||Peta Mullens (Aus) Wiggle-Honda||14|
|6||Sophie Williamson (NZl) Wakatipu||13|
|7||Sarah Roy (Aus) Roxsolt Sydney Uni||12|
|8||Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Specialized-Securitor||11|
|9||Rochelle Gilmore (Aus) Wiggle-Honda|
|10||Chloe Hosking (Aus) Roxsolt Sydney Uni|