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Jayco Bay Cycling Classic - NE
Geelong, Australia, January 2-6, 2008
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Stage 9 - January 6: Eastern Park, Geelong (Short Lap) - Elite men
Renshaw joins McEwen as back-to-back champion
Lapthorne looking strong as nationals near
By Malcolm Sawford in Geelong
Australian road race champion Darren Lapthorne (A&I Helicopters) bounced back from his nasty fall on Stage 2 at Port Arlington, taking a fine solo win on a tough day that saw only 21 riders last the distance. "I was in the right form to win a race this week," said Lapthorne, who will defend his national title in Ballarat next Sunday. "It was a great start to get away with Cookie at the beginning, then to have that crash; it didn't go well from there. Today was my last chance and I felt good, so I thought 'why not give it everything, got nothing to lose'."
The main interest came in the battle for the overall win, which saw Allan Davis (FRF Couriers - NSWIS) with a narrow two-point lead over two other world class sprinters: Mark Renshaw (Geelong Mazda) and Baden Cooke (deTourMovie.com), while criterium specialist Hilton Clarke (Portfolio Partners) was also well within striking distance. The three sprinters fought out second place, with Renshaw too good for Davis, leaving the pair tied on 40 points, but Renshaw claimed the Bay Classic title on a countback courtesy of a pair of second place finishes.
Renshaw becomes only the second male rider to defend a Bay Classic title, after Robbie McEwen's three-peat from 2001-2003. "It's great to win back to back titles here, especially with the caliber of the field this year. It's really stepped up compared to last year, and it's certainly a big boost to the confidence - it's the head that counts in this game sometimes.
"Team Mazda today really took it to them. We tried to keep it together right from the world go. Unfortunately Lapthorne got away for the win but I knew if I could just beat Alby for second and third the series was won. After yesterday's finish I knew that I had the legs to pass him. Unfortunately I got caught a little far back [yesterday], but today I knew I had good legs."
Davis was clearly disappointed to have lost the jersey on the final stage: "The whole week I haven't been out of the top five, and in any other race I would have won by a long way, but that's the beauty of this style of racing."
He did have better news on the 2008 contract front, but wasn't saying too much at this point in time. "It's all starting to unfold and looking good for this year - and hopefully the next seven or eight years as well."
How it unfolded
The race got off to a fast start that had the field in single file the whole way round the tough circuit, and saw riders disappear out the back on virtually every lap. After 13 minutes of racing, Johnnie Walker (Jayco VIS - Sally's Paddock) and Leigh Howard (Jayco Bianchi VIS) pulled clear of the bunch and stayed away until the first of the intermediate sprints, only to have Dean Windsor (Drapac Porsche - Sofitel Mansion Spa) bridge at the last second to take the points and move into the lead in the Sprint Ace competition. "I had a priority to win the green jersey," said Windsor. "I was leading last year going into the last stage and was beaten, so I really wanted to get it this time."
The trio was swept up soon after, as Renshaw's Mazda team kept the pace very high. Simon Gerrans (Portfolio Partners) started the day's longest break at the 24-minute mark, riding clear with Chris Luxton (Savings & Loans) and Marcus Wettenhall (Geelong Cycling Club). Wettenhall stayed with the group for 10 minutes, while Gerrans and Luxton survived almost as far as the final intermediate sprint before Rory Sutherland and the Mazda train reduced the 17-second margin to nothing.
Lapthorne's attack came with 13 minutes remaining. "There were a number of attacks, and it was just getting really tough out there," he explained. "I was hurting, but I thought 'I'm hurting, everyone else must be hurting as well' which is the best time to attack. I had to get away, it's the only way I can win this sort of race." Riding smoothly, the reigning Australian road champion reached a maximum lead of 23 seconds, before an attempt to join him by Hilton Clarke and Richard England (Jayco Bianchi VIS) spurred Rory Sutherland back into action.
The gap came back a little: 13 seconds was as close as the bunch got with around four minutes of racing left, before 'Lappers' pushed his lead back up over 20 seconds. "I think you've got to be smart when you're out there by yourself. You can't just go 100% the whole way; you have to know when to recover. You have to work hard on the climb and in the head wind section, then just rest when you have a bit of a tailwind and a downhill section. You have to be patient and pace yourself."
Overnight leader Joel Pearson (FRF Couriers - NSWIS) led his closest challenger, Daniel Braunsteins (Drapac Porsche) by eleven points, meaning Braunsteins had to win the stage and have Pearson finish outside the top-10 to pull off an unlikely stage win. When a break of five went early without Braunsteins, the win was all but wrapped up.
The five riders in the break were Cam Carlyle (Pro-Motions Bicycles), Nick Mitchell (Bike Force), Stuart Grimsey, Brad Edmunds (FRF Couriers - NSWIS) and New South Wales rider Luke Davison, with the win going to Davison ahead of Mitchell and Carlyle.
Pearson took 10th on the line to cement his overall win, ahead of Braunsteins and Robert Lyte (NSWIS).
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by WomensCycling.net
1 Darren Lapthorne (A&I Helicopters) 12 pts 2 Mark Renshaw (Geelong Mazda) 10 3 Allan Davis (FRF Couriers NSWIS) 8 4 Baden Cooke (detour-themovie.com) 7 5 Richard England (Jayco Bianchi VIS) 6 6 Graeme Brown (FRF Couriers NSWIS) 5 7 Leigh Howard (Jayco Bianchi VIS) 4 8 Chris Luxton (Savings and Loans) 3 9 Trent Wilson (Skilled) 2 10 Russell Gill (Savings and Loans) 1 Sprints 1 Dean Windsor (Drapac Porsche) 14 pts 2 Matt Wilson (detour-themovie.com) 9 3 Mark Renshaw (Geelong Mazda) 6 Teams 1 Geelong Mazda 51 pts 2 detour-themovie.com 49 3 FRF Couriers/NSWIS 45 B Grade men 1 Luke Davison 12 pts 2 Nicholas Mitchell 10 3 Cameron Carlyle 8 4 Bradley Edmunds 7 5 Stuart Grimsey 6 6 Kyle Marwood 5 7 Chris Winn 4 8 Scott Liston 3 9 Adrian Hanson 2 10 Joel Pearson 1 Final general classification 1 Mark Renshaw (Geelong Mazda) 40 pts 2 Allan Davis (FRF Couriers NSWIS) 40 3 Baden Cooke (detour-themovie.com) 37 4 Hilton Clarke (Portfolio Partners) 27 5 Darren Lapthorne (A&I Helicopters) 17 6 Matt Wilson (detour-themovie.com) 12 7 Richard England (Jayco Bianchi VIS) 12 8 Stuart O’Grady (Skilled) 12 9 Rory Sutherland (Geelong Mazda) 11 10 Zac Dempster (A&I Helicopters) 10 10 Brett Aitken (Savings and Loans) 10 B Grade men classification 1 Joel Pearson 41 pts 2 Daniel Braunsteins 29 3 Robert Lyte 27 4 Cameron Carlyle 23 5 Bradley Edmunds 21 6 Luke Davison 18 7 Nicholas Mitchell 17 8 Adrian Hanson 16 9 Douglas Repacholi 15 10 Kyle Marwood 12