Stars show their class as Welsford wins and Spratt successful at the opening day of the Lexus Of Blackburn Bay Crits
The 2020 Lexus of Blackburn Bay Crits began under a hazy sky with smoke from the Victorian bush fires descending upon the Geelong foreshore earlier today.
But conditions cleared just in time for the elite women’s and men’s races on the tight Ritchie Boulevard circuit, with thousands of holiday makers enjoying a picturesque evening at the event.
In the men's it was Austrian Marco HALLER (Katusha Sport) who held onto the Lexus of Blackburn Yellow leaders jersey, finishing in fourth position behind stage winner Caleb EWAN (Lotto Soudal). Haller also took out the Gatorade sprint green jersey and Katusha won the teams title. Haller is the third international to take the crown.
Haller - "I'm relieved. It was a hard series. Happy to have it done, thanks to my team, thanks to Katusha Sport and Pushy’s. Super cool week, absolutely brilliant. To kick the new year off in style."
"We obviously didn’t want to take any risks, we were expecting Caleb to strike again so I wanted to make sure I finished within the ranks. I kept an eye on Raphael, I also had one eye on the green. I tried to cover everything a little bit but in the end I think it worked out."
"It’s super cool [to be on the honour roll], next year my name will also be there, people will think about me. Maybe I’ll be back next year to defend – you never know. Definitely proud I did it. I wasn’t even expecting to win one. As I said I had no idea where my shape was so maybe this was an advantage on the first day because I wasn’t on the radar for some guys."
The pace was forced early with Luke DURBRIDGE (Lexus of Blackburn) and Alex DOWSETT (Katusha Sport) relentless at the front, decimating the peloton and denying attacks. Roger KLUGE (Lotto Soudal) again did the heavy lifting for team mate Ewan and chased down all the breaks.
Brenton JONES (Lexus of Blackburn) finished second on the stage. The 2014 champion surprised Ewan by jumping on the penultimate corner, but Ewan had the firepower to get past again and claim the stage win. Heinrich Haussler (MS All Stars) was third on the day.
Australian based women's cycling team ROXOLT ATTAQUER has taken a clean sweep on the final day of the Lexus Blackburn Bay Crits - claiming the stage win, the general classification and the teams title - and all on team manager Kelvin Rundles birthday.
Defending champion, Italy's Valentina SCANDOLARA, outwitted overnight leader Chloe HOSKING on the final lap - beginning her sprint on the back straight to take out the bunch sprint and win the Lexus of Blackburn yellow jersey in Williamstown for the second time.
Scandolara - "I’m especially happy to win the Bay Crits GC, because last time  I won the first stage and I kept the jersey. To get it on the last day against riders like Wiasak, Hosking and Spratt – it’s special. And then for Peta to finish it off with the win, and today is our Team Managers birthday so it’s perfect – Roxsolt’s day!"
"I pride myself on that.. to be an adopted Aussie. I’m still half Italian as well so if I can beat some Aussies – I’m happy. I’m more and more in love with Australia. Peta was going to be my lead-out so I had to do a bit by myself because she was going for the win but I think I managed to stay calm to do what I really wanted to do, to counter attack but it turned out well."
The versatile Peta MULLENS, a previous national champion on road, mountain bike and cyclo-cross, took the stage win after her team made an aggressive resolution to really mix it up in the race. Mullens was part of a small breakaway group that lapped the field mid race, meaning the peloton including Scandolara had to sprint for GC honours with 3 laps to go.
Commonwealth Games road race champion Hosking had some consolation with the Gatorade Sprint Ace jersey
Sprint King Caleb Ewan storms home for Debut Win with New Team in the New Year.
After a well documented tumultuous 2018, and a disappointing stage one at the Lexus Blackburn Bay Crits, Caleb EWAN has put it all behind him to claim his debut win in the colours of his new team Lotto Soudal.
His teammate Roger KLUGE, who also departed Mitchelton-Scott at the end of 2018, contributed a mountain of work to put Ewan in a wonderful position late in the race. Rival Brenton JONES (Lexus of Blackburn) suffered a late mechanical in the closing corners and was out of contention, paving the way for Heinrich HAUSSLER (MS All-Stars) and Marco HALLER (Katusha-Sport) to round out the podium.
"It feels good to get the year off to a great start and a win for my new team, Roger made it a little easier for me. He didn't even want to start today but I made him do it and I'm glad he did. This is the only race of the year that I can really ride aggressively and I think it makes it entertaining racing for all the fans".
"It's good to make up for yesterday and terrific to have that winning feeling again. It's a lot of change obviously this year ... it's probably the biggest change in my career so far. Last year was disappointing for me, so I really wanted to get this year off to a good start."
"It's so important to get that winning feeling back and hopefully it can continue on from here."
Superb conditions and tight racing at Ritchie Boulevard in Geelong saw the men's event become a war of attrition with the big name WorldTour riders forcing the pace early, and by the halfway mark the peloton consisted of just 19 riders.
Amongst the remnants Jay MCCARTHY (Novotel Geelong- City of Greater Geelong) Luke DURBRIDGE (Lexus of Blackburn), and HAUSSLER (MS All-Stars) all attacked consistently, before EWAN jumped off the front at the 41 minute mark of the hour long race. It took a few laps with Nathan HAAS (Katusha Sports) on the front of the chasers, for the race to come back together with riders legs burning.
HALLER (Katusha-Sport) maintains the Lexus Blackburn leaders jersey and the Gatorade Sprint ace title heading into the third and final day at Williamstown tomorrow.
In the women's event, CHLOE HOSKING (Lexus of Blackburn) claimed the honours on day two, setting up a three way battle for the overall title on the final day.
The Lexus Blackburn General Classification is now led by Hosking on 17 points, although defending champion Valentina SCANDOLARA (Roxsolt Attaquer) and individual rider and National Criterium Champion Rebecca WIASAK are both also on 17 points but without a stage win.
The 45 minute race saw early attacks from the Italian Scandolara and Wiasak, but the power of the Lexus Blackburn All-Stars ensured a win for the reigning Commonwealth Games champion.
"Ideally I wanted to go into the last corner at second wheel, so I stayed on the right and as soon as I saw her jump underneath me I knew it was on and it turned into a 200 metre sprint to the line. I really love racing at Geelong and the Bay Crits are a great way to start the season."
The Gatorade Sprint Ace title also belongs to Hosking who took key points on the technical 'hot-dog' criterium course.
Australian superstar Amanda Spratt (Lexus of Blackburn) has wasted no time in notching up her first victory of 2019, hammering her opponents with a solo win on day one of the Lexus Blackburn Bay Crits. It's the 31 year old's thirteenth appearance at the season opener, and sets her up superbly for the FedUni Road Nationals later this week.
“I’m really, really happy, it’s always the first race of the season and you’re not really sure how you’re going to go, but I was pleasantly surprised. I had a really good, uninterrupted pre-season of training and I’m very happy with where I’m at.”
“I was suffering out there, it wasn’t easy. I actually thought this course might be easier than the other way, but it’s harder. When I got away with Peta I know she’s a faster sprinter, so I didn’t want to take her to the line. I just had to keep attacking her on the climb.”
The Mitchelton-Scott rider's result also gives her ownership today of the Lexus Blackburn General Classification and the Gatorade Sprint Ace. While Spratt is part of the high-calibre LEXUS OF BLACKBURN All-Stars line-up for this event, it was individual riders who made up the podium, with reigning Australian Criterium champion REBECCA WIASAK (ACT) second and SHANNON MCCURLEY (VIC) third.
There are plenty of big names poised to pounce at tomorrow fast and furious tight track at Ritchie Boulevard.
In the men's race it was an international shoot-out with Austrian MARCO HALLER (Katusha Sport) getting the better of a five man breakaway that included German RAPHAEL FREIENSTEIN (Lexus of Blackburn), and Australian's MILES SCOTSON (SA), MICHAEL FREIBERG (WA) and REECE TUCKNOTT (WA).
The Austrian, who has battled back from a career-threatening knee injury that kept him out for almost 200 days, is also holding the Lexus Blackburn General Classification and Gatorade Sprint Ace.
"I was really excited to get it going, it’s obviously nice to have a test before the Tour Down Under. Awesome weather, awesome roads, awesome people – I really enjoy it."
"I didn’t really know where I was at, since I missed pretty much the whole last season due a severe injury. This basically was my first competitive race since my injury so therefore I’m very very happy to start it in this way. I had an incident with a car in training so I had a fracture of the left patella, it took me two surgeries and 190 days to come back on the bike. My career was in danger so I’m very happy to be back"
Hot favourite CALEB EWAN found himself a lap down after his seat post shifted and he was forced to have it adjusted, but it was deemed an 'unrecognised mechanical' and meant his race was all but over.
Australian Road Race champion Shannon Malseed narrows her focus for title defence at Lexus Blackburn Bay Crits
Wearing the green and gold national colours of a cycling champion has been an honour Shannon Malseed has been happy to savour for the past 12 months – and she likes the feel, and wants to do it again in this coming year
So the Victorian will put the finishing touches, and really refine her focus on her national title defence preparation when she lines up at the 2019 Lexus Blackburn Bay Crits in Geelong tomorrow.
Malseed (Team Tibco) upstaged world class rivals to win the Australian National Road Race title in Ballarat last January, and claimed the famous hoops of the national champions jersey.
For three days from January 1st, the 23-year-old will fine tune her form at the fast and furious Lexus Blackburn Bay Crits.
“The Bay Crits are a really good way to get a couple of days of solid leg speed, and familiarisation of racing in a fast, and strong field just a few days out from the Nationals. This is a great tool to prepare the body, and the mind for racing for the Australian Championship title on the weekend!”
“I see the Bay Crits as an integral part of my preparation for Nationals, and I am really glad to see them back for 2019,” said Malseed.
Malseed will race with a line up that has to be seen to be believed - the Lexus Blackburn All Stars women’s team also boasts Commonwealth gold medallist Chloe Hosking (Alé–Cipollini) and Australia’s number 1 ranked female cyclist and UCI road World Championships silver medallist Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton Scott).
Rising star Sarah Gigante, German international Romy Kasper (Alé–Cipollini) and Britain’s Clover Murray round out the team.
“I am super pumped to be racing with those two legends of the sport! I'm looking forward to working with them, rather than racing against them,” Malseed joked.
“I'm keen to see what we can do together as a team. I'm sure it will be a lot of fun.”
The Lexus team will go head-to-head with the Roxsolt Attaquer team featuring 2017 champion Valentina Scandolara of Italy.
“Aside from the great depth in the field at the Bay Crits, which gives all riders a chance to race against some of the best professionals in the world; I love the Bay Crits because they are a great spectacle for my friends and family who love to come and watch me race - they always give me feedback that it is awesome to be able to see the entire race and watch some fast and aggressive cycling.
“I also really enjoy seeing and meeting up with all the people who are there racing and watching; it has been a while between races, so it is always great to have a catch up, and being the beginning of the new year, in summer in Australia - the vibe is always fun and exciting!”
The Lexus Blackburn Bay Crits run from January 1 – January 3 in Geelong and Williamstown. Click here for stage information.
The event will be live streamed on the Cycling Central Facebook Page each day. Click here for broadcast schedule.
Click here for the full entry list.
Lexus of Blackburn 'All Stars' Team Announced
Known as ‘the world’s fastest criterium series,’ The Lexus of Blackburn Bay Crits has a long history of attracting some of Australia’s best WorldTour riders looking to sharpen their legs ahead of a new cycling season, and 2019 is no exception.
Leading the charge of the Lexus of Blackburn ‘All Stars’ team, will be 2014 champion Brenton Jones (DELKO Marseille) and two-time Bay Crits stage winner Luke Durbridge (Mitchelton-SCOTT).
Joining Jones and Durbridge will be a trio of Bendigo riders, who will no doubt bring a strong comradery to the team. Sam Crome and Robbie Hucker – who will be teammates in 2019 for Japanese Team UKYO - and 22-year-old Julian Thompson, all hail from the Victorian country town known to be a breeding ground for professional cyclists.
Thompson will be looking to learn off his more experienced teammates ahead of his first season with Australian National Road Series team GPM-Stulz.
German born sprinter Raphael Freienstein (InForm MAKE) rounds out the team and adds some extra fire power to the sprint lead-out.
“I’m really looking forward to racing the Lexus Blackburn Bay Crits again in January, it’s a race I always look forward to and have many fond memories of,” said Jones.
“I think the Lexus team will be one of the strongest teams out there, and it will be good to race with Durbo and the other guys.”
Coming in as an ‘all star’ Sports Director will be cycling stalwart Dave Sanders who brings decades of experience and passion to the role.
“This team is more than capable of certainly winning a stage and definitely the overall event,” said Sanders, who has a long history managing Australian national teams and mentoring some of Australia’s most successful cyclists including Simon Clarke.
“I personally have worked in every episode of the Bay Crits since its inception, so it’s a special event for me.”
“It is also a very special event for Brenton Jones, who grew up working on the crew as a young fella every year, to eventually becoming the overall winner of the series.
So he has to be considered to be part of the big “family” of this exciting event.
“Brenton has to be considered one of the favourites to take out the overall honours with his tenacious and fearless sprinting abilities.
“Luke Durbridge is without a doubt one of the strongest riders to be pinning a number on and will certainly be ripping the field apart with his powerful attacks.
“The rest of the team all have fine pedigrees and will be there as both opportunistic riders and strong support for Brenton in the fast finishes.”
The Lexus of Blackburn Bay Crits begin on New Year’s Day at Eastern Gardens Geelong. Wednesday January 2 sees the race move to Richie Blvd in Geelong before concluding on Thursday January 3 in Williamstown.
For more information including race schedule head to www.baycyclingclassic.com.au
SBS and Foxsports have both been confirmed as preferred broadcasters of the Lexus of Blackburn Bay Classic for 2019.
In what is sure to be a popular move, SBS's Cycling Central Facebook page will also deliver a livestream of the racing each day.
SBS will also air a high-powered highlights package in the lead up to the Men's and Women's Road Races as part of their Fed Uni Australia Road Nationals broadcast on Friday January 4.
Foxsports will broadcast Lexus of Blackburn Bay Classic highlights on pay-tv.
SBS nightly news and Foxsports news will have daily race highlights, with other free-to-air networks also likely to include the action in their bulletins.
Race Director John Trevorrow - " We are excited to be delivering fast racing to a global audience via SBS Cycling Central Facebook live. The Lexus Bay Classic is charging strongly towards it's fourth decade and we continue to utilise fresh technology to take our cycling stars to new audiences"
For more information about post-event highlights packages for media, contact us.