Sunday, 5 January 2014


It was wild weather when we rolled out on our way to Portarlington for the third stage of the Michelton Wines Bay Criteriums, greeted by black skies, light rain and some very strong gusts of wind. It was a world class bunch when the Wiggle Honda and Dhb Dream Team met up with Orica-AIS and the Jayco National Team for a tail-wind roll to the series toughest circuit. The course starts on a slight downhill as it leads into the first sharp left, which forces a quick change of gears to punch up the first part of the climb. We crest at another left bend and power across a flat section before climbing to the top of the hill that takes you to yet another left. A short descent sweeps you into the last corner and a block headwind up the final ascending straight sees you to the finish of the 1.3km lap.

Roles reversed and commentator Scott McGrory is lost for words
Photo courtesy Darren Casey

Our tactic was unchanged from the day prior. We wanted to keep the field together for the first sprint to take the points jersey, follow the moves for the day and be present in every breakaway. But ultimately get Giorgia up again for another win to try and solidify her overall hold on the general classification and also try to maintain our teams classification lead. With so many goals, just 45 minutes of racing and only five girls we certainly had our hopes set high. It would take full commitment from the team to get everything right and make up for our small mistakes in the days prior. Pedal by pedal we are becoming closer as a team.

Giorgia tells some stories while we wait for the weather to clear
Photo courtesy Bart Hazen

The bunch was lined out in the first 15 minutes as small attacks from riders such as Tiffany Cromwell (Specialized) tried to force the pace but succeeded only in dragging the bunch out to single-file. As we came around for the whistle for the first intermediate sprint it was Valentina Scandolara (Orica-AIS) who attacked up the climb with Lotte and I in tow. The three of us gapped the peloton as Lotte drove it for half a lap to lead me out to take maximum points. In a repeat from the day before, Scandolara continued with the move and Gracie Elvin (Jayco National Team) made her way across to form a dangerous break of three.

Powerhouse Lotte drops the field before the first sprint!
Photo courtesy Bart Hazen

The girls worked the break well and despite their continuous pressure to have me roll through, I made it clear that I no interest in the break and was working for our team leader Gioriga. It was obvious this was frustrating for them, but such is the nature of cycling and the two were now left with three options. They could retreat back to the peloton and attack again, in the hope that a Wiggle Honda rider wasn't in tow OR they could get smart and attack me one after the other until I broke OR they could push the break to the finish and hope to out-sprint me in the final. Meanwhile in the peloton it was Cromwell and Chloe Hosking (Roxsolt Sydney Uni) doing all of the chasing.

Riding in the break with Elvin and Scandolara
Photo courtesy Bart Hazen

The soon to be Orica-AIS teammates through the 2014 season began to whisper between themselves and a few small attacks came in succession but nothing that could pry the three of us apart. After 15minutes away we received the whistle for the second sprint. Elvin seemed keen to take the win this time around but possibly went a little early from third wheel and I was able to take the maximum 3 points. Two laps later we received the lap board for 5 to go and it was clear the peloton was now in serious chase. With three to go it was all back together and 'most' of the 18 girls now prepared for a bunch sprint.

My favourite part - the freewheel corners!
Photo courtesy Bart Hazen

Amanda Spratt (Orica-AIS) launched an attack as soon as the catch was made but being at the head of the field I was able to cover her. Lauren Kitchen (Roxsolt Sydney Uni) was the next to go but was covered by Lotte. The second last time up the climb saw Miranda Griffiths (Vanderkitten) come to the fore and upon joining her we had a good 20m lead. But the ever strong Jo Hogan chased it back and countered. I got on her wheel and she held her effort down the hill and through to bell lap with the peloton strung out in file. I found myself on the front and eased the pace up the first part of the climb until I saw Linda on my wheel with Giorgia in tow. When I got the call I hit out up the hill, over the crest and looked back again for Linda - she had dropped her chain up the hill, doh!

Giorgia takes stage 3 ahead of Edmonson and Cromwell
Photo courtesy Bart Hazen

So instead Girogia was now third wheel ahead of Cromwell, with only Hogan between us, and I pushed on to lead through the final corner. I enjoyed the repreive on free-wheel and agonisingly sprinted out of the corner as hard as I could until Cromwell and then Giorgia came streaming off the wheel. Finally - recovery! Then after a few had passed I remember I still needed to hold on for points in the teams classification, doh again! A few more hard pedals and the day was over. Success - stage win, green points jersey, yellow overall jersey and the teams classification, worth every pedal stroke :) Nettie Edmonson (Orica-AIS) overhauled Cromwell and the pair finished second and third respectively.

Perhaps Giorgia has too much confidence in her team-mates!
Photo courtesy Darren Casey

So today we drive through to Williamstown near the city of Melbourne for the final stage. It's a flat and fast circuit but deceivingly tough. The last few years have finished with a bunch sprint but perhaps today a breakaway will finally prevail. We have a strong hold on all three classifications now (touch wood), so today our main challenge is the push for a third stage win. There will no doubt be some sore legs after yesterday but I know the girls will still throw everything they have at us. I'm sure they all know that we will be ready...

Results: Via Peloton Cafe
Race Video: Via Peloton Cafe
Photo Gallery: Via Bart Hazen and Peloton Cafe