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Valentina Scandolara wins Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic Opener

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Valentina Scandolara (Alé Cycling)

Valentina Scandolara (Alé Cycling)
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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The rising finish straight split the race

The rising finish straight split the race
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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The racing was fast and aggressive

The racing was fast and aggressive
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Scandolara goes deep to join Allen

Scandolara goes deep to join Allen
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Jessica Allen (Orica-Scott) leads the attack

Jessica Allen (Orica-Scott) leads the attack
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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A shot across the finish area

A shot across the finish area
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Valentina Scandolara (Alé Cycling) dominated the sprint

Valentina Scandolara (Alé Cycling) dominated the sprint
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Valentina Scandolara (Alé Cycling) hits the line

Valentina Scandolara (Alé Cycling) hits the line
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Orica-Scott worked hard to control the peloton

Orica-Scott worked hard to control the peloton
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Ale' and Orica-Scott were out in force

Ale' and Orica-Scott were out in force
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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A view of the peloton

A view of the peloton
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Annemiek Van Vleuten (Orica-Scott)

Annemiek Van Vleuten (Orica-Scott)
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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The corners were vital for positioning

The corners were vital for positioning
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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The short circuit made for a hard race

The short circuit made for a hard race
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Orica-Scott made several attacks

Orica-Scott made several attacks
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Orica-Scott controlled the women's race just as they did in the men's race

Orica-Scott controlled the women's race just as they did in the men's race
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Orica-Scott showed off their new colours

Orica-Scott showed off their new colours
(Image credit: Con Chronis)

2015 Santos Women’s Tour winner Valentina Scandolara (Alé Cycling) took a convincing victory on the first day of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic criteriums.

Even with an early victory celebration, the Italian won by several bike lengths over breakaway companions Shannon Malseed (solo) and Jessica Allen (ORICA-Scott) following an aggressive race around the hot dog circuit of Richie Boulevard.

"First of January. First win. Hopefully it will be a good year," Scandolara said. "It was a pretty hard race but with an amazing team like Alé today, it was less difficult. ORICA did a really hard race, attacking at every moment. I had to make sure to jump on them as soon as possible."

Allen launched the attack that inspired the race-winning move in the final five minutes of the 45-minute criterium. Malseed was the first to follow. Ever-attentive at the front, Scandolara closed the gap to Malseed's wheel. Within one lap of the 750-metre circuit, the trio had opened up six seconds over a tiring field.

Former Australian road champion and reigning Australian XCM MTB champion, Peta Mullens, racing for the first time with her new Hagens Berman Supermint squad, led the chase but her efforts were not enough to shut down the powerful trio.

"Shannon Malseed was the one working with me in the last breakaway and made it possible that we would stay away," said Scandolara. "In the last corner, I made sure I took it first so that I could manage my sprint and do it how I wanted."

The fastest sprinter in the breakaway, Scandolara had the win in hand 100 metres before the line. Malseed came second while Allen rounded out the podium.

No stranger to Australia

Scandolara raced for ORICA-AIS (now ORICA-Scott) for two seasons, in 2014-2015. Although she parted ways with the Australian-registered squad two years ago, she continues to spend the Australian summer racing Down Under. The style of racing suits her and her list of wins on Australian soil reflects her fast turn of speed: Santos Women's Tour (2015), Shimano SuperCrit (2015-2016), Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic – stage three (2016).

"I love Australia," she said. "I love training here. I have lots of friends here. The races give me good intensity and they're good fun. It's better than staying in Europe in winter."

"It's important to have good feelings in the beginning of the season," she added. "It's not hugely important for the season because it's so long and so far away, but it's always good for me to be here and see how I compare to the strong riders like ORICA."

Scandolara heads into the second day of the shortened three-day series with a four-point lead over Malseed and a two-point lead over Allen. Scandolara likes her chances for extending her lead in the yellow jersey in Portarlington on Monday.

"Tomorrow is a great stage for me," said Scandolara. "I like it. I won it last year. I will try to do my best to keep the jersey and possibly win tomorrow but no pressure. I'm just here to have fun."

Brief Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Valentina Scandolara (Ita) Alé Cycling12pts
2Shannon Malseed (Aus) Individual10
3Jessica Allen (Aus) Orica-Scott8
4Chloe Hosking (Aus) Alé Cycling7
5Peta Mullens (Aus) Hagens Berman | Supermint6
6Sarah Roy (Aus) Orica-Scott5
7Yumi Kajihara (Jpn) Novotel Geel / Japan4
8Amanda Spratt (Aus) Orica-Scott3
9Megan Alderete (USA) Hagens Berman | Supermint2
10Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Orica-Scott1

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