The Chain Reaction Cycles-supported Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic took place January 1st through to January 4th 2016 in Geelong, Australia.
We once again handpicked a group of riders to tackle the event, this year introducing an all-new women’s team alongside the men’s line-up. Both teams were made up of a mix of emerging talent and experienced Pro Tour level riders including locals Leigh Howard, NZ’s Aaron Gate, Victorian local Esther Borg and Road/MTB cycling crossover Brodie Chapman.
Here are the race reports:
Bay Crits 2016 Day four report
The sun was out and hammer dropped for the fourth and final day of the Bay Crits in Australia. Both the Women’s and men’s teams lined up for the fastest course of the series, ready for battle and ‘courage corner’ a precarious dipping left hook on a mini roundabout.
Great efforts from both teams and top 10s for Leigh Howard and Julia Kalotas, digging deep to get up in their respective fields. Wins on the day went to Caleb Ewen (Orica Greenedge) and Lizzie Williams (Orica AIS) stomping their fields, with Caleb Ewen and Gracie Elvin (Orica AIS) taking the overall event wins. As always the Bay Crits were fantastic to watch and be involved in. A great kick-off to CRC’s expanding involvement in cycling events, more ahead in 2016.
Bay Crits 2016 Day three report
Action and anguish for Team CRC Australia in Stage 3 of The Bay Crits. Both the Women’s and Men’s team had a tough day at the office with blustery conditions escalating an already demanding course.
In The Women’s race our diminished group of a brave 3 lined up to take on the might of some very organised cohesive team strategies from Orica AIS and Ale Cycling. Brodie Chapman was gutted to be out on lap 2 due to a mechanical. Maddie Steele fought on before losing contact with the bunch midway through the race, leaving Julia Macpherson to slug it out solo for the rest of the race distance and tempo on a brutal course.
In the men’s it was all strategy, Luke Durbridge and Caleb Ewan of Orica GreenEdge the favourites. The Chain Reaction team of 5 had some wind in their sails from yesterdays podium by Leigh Howard, but it was the increasing winds on course that overshadowed the day. Far from flat, the course had a combination of steep pinches, tight uphill and downhill corners with some real tactics required to survive the duration. Time and time again the top names attacked, with two breakaways and a nearly successful break of two spicing up proceedings. As the race went on, the CRC team workhorses spent themselves and moved off the peloton, setting Leigh Howard and Aaron Gate up best they could to get in the points. In a thrilling last few laps the peloton caught the break and in the end over the line went 1st Pat Shaw of Avanti, followed by 2nd Dan Fitter (MAAP) and 3rd Sam Spokes Drapac. Leigh Howard Team CRC got across in 5th, happy to have managed himself well throughout the race.
Another great days racing was had and one more to come. This time we travel to Williamstown on the final stage and a circuit surrounded by historic buildings and landmarks. We’ll continue to provide updates on the Chain Reaction Teams and the Michelton Bay Crits.
Bay Crits Day two report
Chain Reaction Australia crack the podium on Stage 2 of the #baycrits. Leigh Howard punches to 3rd in Elite men in a tight race to the line.
For day two the event had moved to a more technical, undulating course, circumnavigating the Geelong Botanic Gardens. With short descents, quick swapping corners and a few climbs, it would bring out the more daring cyclists of the bunch. A small speedhump at the crest of a slight rise also added spice as riders got a little air briefly, all whilst maintaining bunch position at 40kmph. The long beach front straight had a tailwind through most of the day, further adding speed (and smiles) to the racing. The Chain Reaction Women’s team got amongst it early, staying together today with different tactics than the previous day, as they started to gel better and understand each other’s strengths. The win was hard fought with Kimberley Wells (High5 Dreamteam) clinching it in a battle of two from Gracie Elvin (Orica AIS) with the rest of the pack strung out behind.
In the Men’s race they had the lot – crashes, breakaways and mechanicals for some big names. Leigh Howard and Aaron Gate from the Chain Reaction Team were amongst it with the bigger teams, working together when they could. After 40mins Aaron Gate had done the work he could and Leigh Howard took the challenge forward for the team, outnumbered but tenacious. Orica GreenEDGE did what they do best and held control on the front for as long as possible until finally Leigh Howard and another rider, Brenton Jones (Drapac) bust through following hot on the heels of Caleb Ewen (Orica GreenEDGE) as he solo’d off the front. In the final sprint it was a real contest, with Caleb Ewen taking honours and Brenton Jones 2nd followed by Leigh Howard for a hard fought 3rd.
Day 2 and it’s great to have hit the podium on a classy circuit, well deserved for all three podium getters.
Two days down and two left to go, all our riders now have a real hunger for the podium. We’ll continue to provide updates on the Chain Reaction Teams and the Michelton Bay Crits.
Bay Crits 2016 Day one report
Our 10 strong CRC Men and Women’s team showed up and rolled out today for some fast hitting action at the Bays Crits in Geelong, Australia.
Day one of the four day event was the ‘hotdog circuit’ right on the Geelong waterfront. 40mins of intense close racing on a track that could be viewed from either end drawing big numbers of spectators for all classes of races.
With the women racing an hour before the men, all eyes were on the girls in blue. Our newly formed Women’s team balanced enthusiasm with trepidation as their first roll-out as a team commenced. The Women’s camp had very quickly developed a supportive and positive atmosphere off-track which clearly benefitted them during the race and no doubt across the entire event. With a 38 strong bunch beginning the race and only 18 finishing, it was a real battle of attrition. Thankfully everyone kept it upright, only the wind and race tempo claimed riders as after 15 mins, the group strung out and a front pack formed. The Chain Reaction Women’s team kept the group together with notable mid race attacks from Brodie Chapman and Esther Borg, both really showing their cornering finesse. As the race pushed towards the closing 10 minutes through the group dwindled with riders dropping back and being pulled from competition. Really pleasing to see three of our five finish high in the peloton and with 3 days racing left, plenty of time to get the whole team working in harmony and pushing for some serious results.
In the Men’s race, it was action from the start, with an early crash in the race resetting the order and taking out close to 10 riders, including one of our own, Caiden Hull. Spectators would have been forgiven for thinking this was a one day race and not part of a series as the tempo went from fast to lightening, with watt bombs being dropped on every straight and corners being railed without thought for brakes, the intensity was high. Our remaining team of four got split up as the ever-changing peloton made for an unpredictable race tempo. Leigh Howard, local hero and Captain of Team Chain Reaction sat in at the front, working hard with the big guns to maintain position. With 8 mins to go Leigh made a break out front solo, looking strong and holding the peloton off for close to two laps before the bunch got organised and reeled him back in. In the end the win went to favourite Caleb Ewen of Orica Greenedge.
With one day down and three to go, a great days racing was had and more to come. We’ll continue to provide updates on the Chain Reaction Teams and the Michelton Bay Crits.
Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic 2016 schedule
Stage 1 – Ritchie Boulevard, Geelong – Friday 1 January 2016
Stage 2 – Eastern Park, Geelong – Saturday 2 January 2016
Stage 3 – Portarlington – Sunday 3 January 2016
Stage 4 – Williamstown – Monday 4 January 2016
Bay Crits highlights
• The Bay Crits have featured a Tour de France winner, five yellow jersey wearers, two Tour de France green (sprinters) jersey winners and eight Tour de France stage winners.
• The stars of Australian cycling have all ridden in the Bay Crits during their careers, including Phil Anderson, Cadel Evans, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O’Grady, Simon Gerrans, the current national criterium champion Cameron Meyer and national road champion Luke Durbridge.
• It has been a catalyst in the development of the Australian summer of cycling.
• Played a pivotal role in the launch and debut races for the Orica GreenEDGE men’s and women’s world tour teams in 2012.