Italy's Valentina Scandolara defended her Lexus Blackburn Bay Crits title on Thursday, with her Roxsolt Attaquer teammate Peta Mullens winning the third and final day of the criterium series in Williamstown.
Australian Mullens forced a split just five minutes into the race, with compatriot Natalie Redmond and Germany's Romy Kasper (Lexus of Blackburn) scrambling to get onto her wheel to create a three-rider break.
With no real reaction from the bunch once their lead was established, the trio chipped away to increase their lead enough to lap the field, making contact just under half-way through the 45-minute race.
The rules then meant that fourth place would be decided a few minutes before the 45 minutes were up, with the three race leaders then continuing for another three laps to decide the stage victory.
Lexus of Blackburn rider Amanda Spratt, who won the first race of the series on Tuesday, did everything she could to lead out teammate and overall leader Chloe Hosking to take the points she needed, but it was Scandolara who emerged to take fourth place, and with it the overall competition for the second year in a row.
While the Italian celebrated her second overall win at the Bay Crits, her teammate Mullens set about trying to win the stage on the 930-metre-long circuit.
It was Redmond who led the trio into the final lap, and then attacked her two breakaway companions, almost catching them napping. But Mullens opened her sprint early, and took the lead on the inside on the final corner, holding on to win from Redmond, with Kasper third.
"I'm especially happen this year to win the Bay Crits," said Scandolara after the finish, "because last year I won the first stage and then just kept the leader's jersey, so to this year get it on the last day against riders like [Rebecca] Wiasak, Hosking and Spratt, it's special. And with Peta finishing things off with a win, it's perfect."
Scandolara admitted that she might have benefited further from having Mullens to lead her out.
"I had to do it a bit by myself, but I managed to do what I needed to do. Having Spratt leading out Chloe made it really hard, so I had to go early and kind of surprise them, and it paid off," she said.
"I know that Valentina's very experienced, and very capable of looking after herself in a finale against Chloe Hosking," Mullens added. "She's done it many times before, and we'd made a promise that we'd be aggressive in the first 20 minutes of the bike race, and if the Lexus team hadn't also wanted that, then we would have calmed down and focused on the finale.
"With the criterium national championships tomorrow [Friday], I knew some people would want an easier day, but not us," said Mullens. "We wanted a stage win, and then to top it off we took the overall victory and the teams competition, so it's just amazing.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Peta Mullens (Aus) Roxsolt Attaquer||00:46:37|
|2||Natalie Redmond (Aus)|
|3||Romy Kasper (Ger) Lexus of Blackburn|
|4||Valentina Scandolara (Ita) Roxsolt Attaquer||0:03:48|
|5||Chloe Hosking (Aus) Lexus of Blackburn|
|6||Emma Chilton (Aus) Roxsolt Attaquer|
|7||Shannon McCurley (Aus)|
|8||Veronica Lebedev (Aus) Gusto StepFWD KOM Powered By Suzuki|
|9||Amanda Spratt (Aus) Lexus of Blackburn|
|10||Rebecca Wiasak (Aus)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Valentina Scandolara (Ita) Roxsolt Attaquer||24||pts|
|2||Chloe Hosking (Aus) Lexus of Blackburn||23|
|3||Peta Mullens (Aus) Roxsolt Attaquer||18|
|4||Amanda Spratt (Aus) Lexus of Blackburn||18|
|5||Rebecca Wiasak (Aus)||18|
|6||Natalie Redmond (Aus)||13|
|7||Shannon McCurley (Aus)||12|
|8||Emma Chilton (Aus) Roxsolt Attaquer||11|
|9||Romy Kasper (Ger) Lexus of Blackburn||8|
|10||Matila Raynolds (Aus)||8|
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