In hot and sometimes gusty conditions on the Geelong seafront in Victoria, Australia, defending champion Mark Renshaw led home rising talent Zac Dempster and Johnnie Walker to finish the third day of competition on top in the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic.
Held on a tight hot dog circuit, Friday’s event was a helter-skelter affair from the outset.
After an incident at a nearby swimming pool that required an ambulance to pass through the course, the start was delayed and the race shortened to 50 minutes and three laps.
The decisive break came eight minutes into the race when Renshaw, Walker and Dempster broke away, taking just 12 minutes to lap the field moments after the second sprint.
Renshaw’s win moves him into second place overall behind series leader Baden Cooke, creating a nail-biter for the final two days’ racing with four points separating the top four riders on general classification.
“I knew I had god legs today and because there were just the three of us, we were able to gain time every time we went around a bend,” said Renshaw.
“But after we gained the lapped, I was always nervous about the five catching us again. I am starting to think overall – I think its going to be a slugging match between me and Baden now – we’re old team-mates but I think I am quicker than him.”
Future stars on fire
The teenage revelations in the women’s field continued to astound with their fearless riding as Megan Dunn, a 16-year-old from Dubbo, New South Wales, ventured into new territory by not only winning the stage but wresting the yellow jersey from overnight leader Alexis Rhodes.
Dunn has now amassed 27 points, giving her a five-point buffer on general classification over both Rhodes and Belinda Goss.
Dunn also became the youngest leader in the race’s 19-year history, though didn’t seem as surprised as the onlookers, nor fazed by her rivals. “You have to go into each race treating them like any other rider,” she said.
“I am just trying my hardest. Today I had nothing to lose in those last five laps. I came to this race to win and I will try to do the same tomorrow,” added Dunn.
Rhodes did not hand over the leader’s jersey without a fight, attacking from the bunch on at least three occasions to reel in breakaways. But Dunn’s final surge on the bell lap was so decisive that she was able to sit up by the finish.