The break was swamped in the final stages of the opening day of racing in the elite men’s category at the 2022 Lexus of Blackburn Bay Crits, with Blake Quick (InForm TMX MAKE) taking the victory by a bike length.
The 21-year-old, who had a stint with Trinity Racing in Europe last year, crossed the stage 1 finish line at Eastern Gardens in Geelong ahead of Craig Wiggins (ARA Pro Racing) who has worked his way back to form following a horrible hit and run in September of last year, and favourite Jensen Plowright who pinned on race number 1 with the Lexus of Blackburn team.
It was touch and go whether the field would get the chance to sprint for victory at all with an out of contract Simon Clarke slipping away from the field and then his break away companions in the final laps.
“We only caught him right on the last bend so it was close. I didn’t realise it was going to come back so quickly in the end,” said Quick, who was piloted toward the line by teammate and former race winner Brenton Jones.
“He gave me the lead out … I hardly even had to sprint really.”
The Bay Crits are the traditional season starter, opening up the summer racing which usually moves on to the Australian National Championships, then takes in the Tour Down Under, before heading onto the one-day men’s and women’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and finishing with the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in early February.
This year the COVID-19 pandemic related travel restrictions mean the South Australian event is running as a domestic race while the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and the associated Race Torquay have been cancelled along with the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.
As a consequence, some of the WorldTour professionals are absent, with many opting to stay in Europe. New Ineos Grenadiers rider Luke Plapp had been set to headline the Bay Crits but was unable to attend after being a close contact with a COVID-19 case.
Nevertheless it was a competitive bunch of 52 that lined up to start the criterium around the 1.9 kilometre course, with riders fine tuning their form ahead of the Australian Road National Championships.
Daniel Luke (Olivers Racing) and Declan Trezise (ARA Pro Racing) headed off on an early break but the attempts and catches continued to roll on through the race of 50 minutes plus three laps. The serious attack came 36 minutes in.
Clarke, who raced for Team Qhubeka NextHash in 2021, was there and drove the early pace in a break of six as he raced for the All Stars team. The group also included two riders from ARA Pro Racing: Zack Gilmore and early-break rider Trezise, plus Liam White (Olivers Racing), Elliot Schultz (InForm TMX MAKE) and Henry Dietze (Giant Racing).
The group stayed away until the bell lap and Clarke launched a last ditch attack just before the break was swept up. But it wasn’t quite enough as he was caught, leaving a stretched out bunch to sprint for the line.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Team)||Result|
|1||Blake Quick (InForm TMX MAKE)||0:55:44|
|2||Craig Wiggins (ARA Pro Racing)|
|3||Jensen Plowright (Lexus of Blackburn)|
|4||Kurt Eather (Oliver's Racing)|
|5||Nicholas White (Ballarat Sebastopol)|
|6||Brenton Jones (InForm TMX MAKE)|
|7||Ben Hill (Canberra)|
|8||Myles Stewart (Nero Continetal)|
|9||Jacob Langham (All Stars)|
|10||Zack Gilmore (ARA Pro Racing)|
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