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Hepburn parlays late race attack into first Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic victory

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Stage 2 went to Michael Hepburn (Orica-Scott)

Stage 2 went to Michael Hepburn (Orica-Scott)
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Nathan Haas leads the reduced peloton

Nathan Haas leads the reduced peloton
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Michael Hepburn (Orica-Scott) punches the air in celebration

Michael Hepburn (Orica-Scott) punches the air in celebration
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Koen de Kort (Trek-Segafredo)

Koen de Kort (Trek-Segafredo)
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Matt Gibson, Michael Hepburn (Orica-Scott), and Ian Bibby on the podium

Matt Gibson, Michael Hepburn (Orica-Scott), and Ian Bibby on the podium
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Cameron Bayly (Isowhey Sports Swisswellness)

Cameron Bayly (Isowhey Sports Swisswellness)
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Ian Bibby (JLT Condor) sprays the sparkling

Ian Bibby (JLT Condor) sprays the sparkling
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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The peloton comes through under the start/finish line

The peloton comes through under the start/finish line
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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JLT Condor were all over the front of the peloton during the race

JLT Condor were all over the front of the peloton during the race
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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The peloton is led by JLT Condor up the steep hill

The peloton is led by JLT Condor up the steep hill
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Caleb Ewan and Robbie Hucker formed a two-man break late in the race

Caleb Ewan and Robbie Hucker formed a two-man break late in the race
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Koen de Kort in the new Trek-Segafredo training jersey

Koen de Kort in the new Trek-Segafredo training jersey
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Stage winner Michael Hepburn (Orica-Scott)

Stage winner Michael Hepburn (Orica-Scott)
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Ian Bibby (JLT Condor) holds onto the yellow jersey

Ian Bibby (JLT Condor) holds onto the yellow jersey
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Ian Bibby (JLT Condor) with Matt Gibson on his wheel

Ian Bibby (JLT Condor) with Matt Gibson on his wheel
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Damien Howson (Orica-Scott)

Damien Howson (Orica-Scott)
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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A mix of colourful bikes and kit on show

A mix of colourful bikes and kit on show
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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JLT Condor continue to lead the peloton around the course

JLT Condor continue to lead the peloton around the course
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Michael Hepburn (Orica-Scott) soloing to the victory

Michael Hepburn (Orica-Scott) soloing to the victory
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Ian Bibby (JLT Condor), in yellow, sitting in

Ian Bibby (JLT Condor), in yellow, sitting in
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Cam Bayly in the blue points jersey

Cam Bayly in the blue points jersey
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott)

Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott)
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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JLT Condor lead under the start/finish

JLT Condor lead under the start/finish
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Michael Hepburn (Orica-Scott)

Michael Hepburn (Orica-Scott)
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Matt Gibson (Condor)

Matt Gibson (Condor)
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Zak Dempster, in pink, is riding for the Total Rush team

Zak Dempster, in pink, is riding for the Total Rush team
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Michael Hepburn (Orica-Scott)

Michael Hepburn (Orica-Scott)
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Ian Bibby (JLT Condor) digging deep to hold onto the race lead

Ian Bibby (JLT Condor) digging deep to hold onto the race lead
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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The select and reduced peloton out on course

The select and reduced peloton out on course
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Mitch Docker (Orica-Scott)

Mitch Docker (Orica-Scott)
(Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Race leader Ian Bibby (JLT Condor)

Race leader Ian Bibby (JLT Condor)
(Image credit: Con Chronis)

He's won national titles, world championships and Olympic medals, but until Monday, Michael Hepburn (ORICA-Scott) had never won a stage of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic. That changed in Portarlington when Hepburn attacked a four-man late race breakaway that included race leader Ian Bibby (JLT Condor) and Sunday's second place finisher Jesse Kerrison (IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness).

"I wanted to go to the line by myself," Hepburn told reporters, including Cyclingnews. "I threw a couple attacks in but I couldn't get rid of them. They were stock-standard attacks in the obvious moments, so I decided to attack through the start/finish line, which you don't normally do here and try to catch Jesse off-guard. Luckily I got a gap and could keep going with it."

It was chilly, with temperatures only in the high teens, and breezy along the Esplanade when the elite men set off for stage two of the three-day race series. ORICA-Scott lined-up with what Hepburn described as "an open plan" after a last corner crash on Sunday's stage one derailed Caleb Ewan's ambitions for his fourth Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic overall title.

"We can't fault anyone yesterday," said Hepburn. "We put ourselves into a situation to get a result there in the end, and one small moment like that can cost you the race. We're here to get in some hard racing to prepare for the Nationals coming up this week. Every race we do here is another stepping stone to that.

"There was an opportunity there for a few guys to go up the road be quite aggressive," Hepburn noted. "I'm thankful to have the form and legs to go with it."

Like the women's race held one hour earlier, the men's race split early over the deceptively difficult course.

"It went really hard on the climbs and the race split at a really tough point," said stage one winner and race leader Ian Bibby. "I had a bit of luck yesterday, and it was quite nice to back that up today."

Showing he had escaped Sunday's crash without injury, Ewan went on the attack with Robbie Hucker (VTWO Team) for company at the mid-point of the hour-long race. Hucker was unwilling to contribute to Ewan's effort up the road, so ORICA-Scott elected to bring the race back together.

Luke Durbridge (ORICA-Scott) countered Ewan's catch before Hepburn launched what would prove to be the race winning move, going clear with Bibby, Kerrison and Matt Gibson (Condor) with three laps remaining. Hepburn attacked again with two laps left, escaping solo and holding his chasers to the line.

"The form is pretty good," Hepburn said. "I've had a good summer training. Until you've had a few race days, it's hard to really gauge where the form is at, but I've felt good the last couple days. I'll have another crack tomorrow."

Kerrison crashed out of the chase on the penultimate lap.

"Everyone seems to fall off around me, and I somehow seem to avoid it," joked Bibby. "Jesse was unlucky crashing. When it happened, I sat up and waited for Matt. We got our heads down together."

Bibby and Gibson evaded the peloton by a mere two seconds with Bibby getting the upper-hand in the two-up sprint to solidify his overall lead. Bibby will head to Williamstown with 22 points over Gibson, who has 16 points, and Hepburn with 12 points.

"You have your time off and go on holiday and then come back and you're out in the snow and rain in England," said Bibby. "It's hard to imagine that here. You never know how you're going to go – dropped on the first lap or there to contend at the end. It's nice to show that hard work in the rain and show has paid off."

Brief Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Michael Hepburn (Aus) Orica Scott1:00:23
2Ian Bibby (GBr) JLT Condor0:00:06
3Mathew Gibson (GBr) Condor
4Brenton Jones (Aus) JLT Condor0:00:08
5Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica Scott
6Samuel Spokes (Aus) Total Rush
7Anthony Giacoppo (Aus) Isowhey Sports Swisswellness
8Benjamin Hill (Aus) GTR0:00:09
9Cameron Bayly (Aus) Isowhey Sports Swisswellness
10Nathan Haas (Aus) Vtwo Team

Standings after day 2
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Ian Bibby (GBr) JLT Condor22pts
2Mathew Gibson (GBr) Condor16
3Michael Hepburn (Aus) Orica Scott12
4Anthony Giacoppo (Aus) Isowhey Sports Swisswellness)10
5Jesse Kerrison (Aus) Isowhey Sports Swisswellness10
6Samuel Spokes (Aus) Total Rush9
7Cameron Bayly (Aus) Isowhey Sports Swisswellness9
8Brenton Jones (Aus) JLT Condor7
9Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica Scott6
10Patrick Lane (Aus) Vtwo Team5

 

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