Welsford wins yellow in Williamstown, while Hosking hammers home in a thrilling finale to the 2020 Lexus Of Blackburn Bay Crits.
Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist CHLOE HOSKING has secured her second overall Lexus of Blackburn Bay Crits title with a powerful display on the streets of Williamstown, while World Champion Team Pursuit member SAM WELSFORD has claimed the men's event.
An early shower of much needed rain in the port suburb delayed the start of the third stage, but once the track dried the racing was on in earnest, with the top three in both the men's and women's races separated by just a few points
In the Men's event Australian Road Race Champion MICHAEL FREIBERG (ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) and KADEN GROVES (Novotel-Mitchelton) activated the race early, recording ever faster laps as they jumped off the front and aimed to split the race from the start.
The pair worked in unison and 30 minutes in they could see the back end of the peloton as they attempted to lap the field in the tight 900m street circuit. The gap back to the bunch, that included the World Championship Team Pursuit line up (Lexus of Blackburn team), went out to almost one minute as the crowd roared for the duo to make 'the catch'.
And indeed they did 45 minutes in, the pair finally nestled back into the group, but one lap up. And with neither of them in the running for the yellow, the race became about the sprint for third place and the points on offer for the top contenders. As the run to line concluded for the bunch, it was WELSFORD (Lexus Of Blackburn) who drove to the chequered flag. He beat home team mate CAMERON SCOTT, but more importantly edged out rivals BRENTON JONES (Novotel-Mitchelton) and NICK WHITE (Team BridgeLane).
At the front, the race of two saw 21-year-old GROVES secure the stage win over the more experienced FREIBERG.
It’s always good to start the year off with a win, there’s a lot of history in this race, I used to watch this race at home on TV as a kid, so to be on the top step and wearing this yellow jersey on the final day is pretty special to me.
I think it’s very special to have a team like the track boys, we back each other 100% and when we go out and commit to something like this we don’t really get things wrong. It’s good to start the year off with a bang.
On Friday I had a late dig at the [Ritchie Boulevard] criterium and messed up that final corner, I thought it might have been my only opportunity - but I thought today my Dad’s down here watching and my Aunty and Uncle so I thought I better put on a show and try again.
The PSC Insurance Sprint Ace green jersey went to BEN HILL (Team BridgeLane) who claimed it by a single point over FREIBERG.
The Women's event missed some firepower on the start line with AMANDA SPRATT (Lexus of Blackburn) and LAUREN KITCHEN (Lexus of Blackburn) both absent after a mishap in the warm-up. The pair were attended to by the team after the crash, and while cleared of any major injury, they did not commence the third stage.
It was KERRY JONKER (Appselec) who set a scorching pace early, almost turning the race into a time trial as she led the peloton by nearly 20 seconds in a wonderful solo effort. Current road race national champion SARAH GIGANTE (Lexus of Blackburn) was on the front trying to reel her in, and eventually Jonker was forced to submit 30 minutes into the 45 minute race.
The Lexus team controlled the race from then on till the line with CHLOE HOSKING (Lexus of Blackburn) proving her dominance, dragging past her opponents and surging across the line to take the stage win and the yellow jersey. The victory is her second in the event after being triumphant in 2015.
Former Finnish Time Trial and Road Race Champion LOTTA LEPISTO came in just behind the winner, with PETA MULLENS (Roxsolt Attaquer) in third.
I actually didn’t come in with any expectation to win. I came in to the week feeling a bit flat and just haven’t been thrilled with my pre-season preparation, I feel like I’ve ridden into it and starting to feel more fresh, more explosive, more powerful so it’s all positive.
I had lost on the last day here previously, so with the others out, I’m really happy Sarah was there to help me out.
And on her teammate's accident prior to the race:
I just walked into the camper and poor Loz and Amanda are in there looking very shaken and I was like ‘what is going on here’ and then they couldn’t start so as I said we had to re-evaluate really quickly. Just instead of having an aggressive race like what we wanted to have, we had to go into more crisis management.
It was just one of those incidents that happened in training, someone ran into someone else. I think Spratty might of hit her head, she’s ok she’s just resting and I’m confident they’ll both be up and racing at the nationals.
JESSICA ALLEN (Lexus of Blackburn) kept her grip on the Gatorade Sprint Ace Green Jersey in a clean sweep for the team.
In the Lexus of Blackburn Bay Crits Damion Drapac Trophy, the stage was won by Bendigo's JULIAN THOMSON, but the yellow remained with GRAEME FRISLIE who accumulated 27 points over the three days, 3 points ahead of PATRICK BURT with SHANNON JOHNSON rounding out the podium on 22 points. An emotional father and great supporter of cycling Michael Drapac presented the trophy, saying on stage he was "overwhelmed when contacted by organisers and told the trophy would be named for his son."
The Drapac family were huge for the development of my cycling club in Brunswick so it’s a massive honour for what this race means and to start off the year like this is pretty special.
Race Director JOHN TREVORROW was jubilant about another successful 'Bay Crits':
The racing has just been brilliant, as good as we’ve had in all of 31 years of the Bay Crits. Exciting when you’ve got the women’s elite and men’s elite [general classification] on equal points, down to the last sprint. You can’t get much better than that. Chloe I think is the fastest sprinter in the world right now, she definitely has been this week.
And Sam Welsford, what a powerful machine. I was very impressed with him yesterday, it was a tough course and how he got around that. And on these courses at Ritchie Blvd and here in Williamstown, he’s pretty tough to beat.