The second day of racing at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic proved hugely successful for Orica-AIS as Tiffany Cromwell soloed to victory. Melissa Hoskins won the small group sprint for second to move into the series lead after the Portarlington Criterium.
“It’s lovely to win,” reported Cromwell. “It always it. It gives me good confidence and shows that my form is coming around. I’m happy to deliver the first race win for Orica-AIS in 2013.”
Cromwell jumped from the bunch early on in the nearly 46 minute race. After a few attacks softened the field, Cromwell timed her move to perfection on lap three and immediately opened up a gap.
“The rest of the girls organized behind Cromwell,” explained Sport Director David McPartland. “Because they were well organized, Tiff was able to grow her gap to 30 seconds really quickly. By the mid-point of the race, her gap was holding steady and I was confident that she would win.”
With Cromwell up the road, the team’s attention turned to the general classification. Melissa Hoskins started the day in second place, two points down on stage one winner Kimberley Wells (Specialized Securitor).
“All we had to do was isolate the yellow jersey,” noted McPartland. “I was confident we would be able to do that.”
Hoskins initiated the move that propelled her into the race lead.
“After the first intermediate sprint, Mel and Gracie [Elvin] formed a two-rider breakaway between Tiff and the peloton,” said McPartland. “By the time the second intermediate sprint rolled around, Mel and Gracie were in an eight rider move. Shara [Gillow] eventually bridged across to give us three riders in that group. Kim didn’t make the selection, so we only needed Mel to finish seventh place or higher to move into the leader’s jersey.”
Cromwell crossed the finish line with a 29 second gap on the group behind to take her second Portarlington Criterium win. She first won on this course in 2011.
“The way I won today was quite similar to my win two years ago,” Cromwell remarked. “I got into a breakaway early two years ago, too. Both times it was about getting into a good rhythm to hold off the field.”
“I was quite confident around the mid-point of the race that I could win,” she added. “The climb hurts your legs, and I wasn’t 100% at first. Eventually, as I settled into my own rhythm, the climb hurt less and I was able to stay away.”
Gillow took responsibility for the nine rider group, setting a pace that allowed Cromwell to maintain her lead while ensuring that the group behind wouldn’t regain contact. With two laps left to race, Gillow’s job was done.
“Gracie picked up where Shara left off, and she did an awesome job in her first lead out for the team,” said McPartland. “She took Mel into the bottom corner of the course, and all Mel had to do was come off Gracie’s wheel at the 150 metre mark.”
Hoskins handily won the sprint for second. With one race left in the three day series, Hoskins maintains a healthy seven point advantage over Peta Mullens (Anytime Fitness Trek) in second. Cromwell currently sits in third place in the overall standings tied on points with Wells in fourth.
“Our goal is to win the overall,” said McPartland. “As long as we have a solid plan and ride as a single unit, I expect us to accomplish this goal tomorrow. That said, we don’t take anything for granted. Kim Wells has a strong team here. If she wins tomorrow, Mel needs to finish fifth place or better to take the overall title.”
In addition to leading the general classification, Orica-AIS also leads the Sprint Ace Competition (Cromwell) and the Team Classification.