Finishing fifth in second round of the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic in Portarlington Thursday, won by his team-mate Matthew Wilson, overnight leader Baden Cooke has managed to retain his overall lead in the men’s competition.
Over the final three laps, Wilson managed to get as much as 12 seconds in front of a chasing group led by Chris Luxton and David Tanner before the peloton eventually got its act together. The gap narrowed to nine seconds as the bell rang but last year’s Herald Sun Tour winner gritted his teeth and stayed away to the line.
Wilson said his move wasn’t premeditated: “I didn’t plan to go when I did – it was just one of those things,” he said. “The bunch sits up for second and you think that’s my chance. There are so many strong guys you just can’t waste opportunities when they come.”
Hilton Clarke had another solid day, finishing second to Wilson and drawing equal first on 18 points, but failing to grab the lead by virtue of Cooke’s win on day one.
“I can’t quite make the race just yet, I’m just following,” Clarke quipped during the presentation ceremony.
Will Walker and national road champion Darren Lapthorne were both involved in crashes during the race, although neither were seriously injured.
Youngster bests her heroes
17-year-old Port Macquarie rider Lauren Kitchen surprised her more experienced rivals to take the Portarlington leg of the women’s division.
“I’ve got photos of all these girls on my wall. It’s an amazing feeling to come through over the top of these girls – it is something I have been dreaming about,” said a delighted Kitchen.
“It was really tough today with the wind and the climbs but I put my head down, had some belief in myself and it all came though for me.”
It turned out to be a day for the teens, with junior track star Josephine Tomic and the previous day’s surprise packet Megan Dunn both part of a six-women breakaway that went clear halfway through the 40-minute and three lap race, and was never threatened thereafter.
Triple world junior champion Tomic took third, whilst Dunn’s fourth spot lifted her to second place in the overall classification behind Alexis Rhodes, whose solo efforts to catch the leaders netted her the four points she needed to retain the lead.
Friday’s third stage of the Jayco Bay Classic will be held at Ritchie Boulevard in Geelong.