Melissa Hoskins successfully defended her Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic title in style. The defending champion won the field sprint in Williamstown to secure back-to-back overall victories. Hoskins finished second on the first two stages before going one better on the final day of racing en route to the yellow jersey.
“Winning the series was a pretty big goal,” admitted Hoskins. “What else can you do when you’ve won previously? You can’t go better than win, so the only thing there is to do is go back-to-back or win a stage.”
“I put a lot of pressure on myself after winning last year, and I was surprised with how well I dealt with that pressure,” she added. “I’m happy to have a stage win this year. I won the overall last year without a stage win. It was even more special to win today while wearing the yellow jersey.”
The last day of racing was an aggressive affair. Despite repeated attacks, the field stayed together for the majority of the race.
“We were altogether in the final laps,” explained Hoskins. “There were a few attacks in the last three laps but no major threats. Shara [Gillow] and Spratty [Amanda Spratt] went to the front with three to go. Shara did a huge pull for a lap. When she pulled off, Spratty took over. I let her take me to the second to last corner. Peta Mullins (Anytime Fitness Trek), who sat second overall, attacked into the second to last corner, and I jumped onto her wheel straightaway.”
Hoskins remained glued to Mullin’s wheel on the straight stretch of road that separated the second to last corner from the final turn.
“I attacked just before the last corner, and I came out of the corner in first place,” said Hoskins. “From there, I sprinted for the win.”
Hoskins called the three days of racing an ‘eye opener’ in terms of her personal fitness.
“My form isn’t as bad as I thought it was,” she said. “My training wasn’t awesome ahead of the tour, and I thought I had bad legs. I guess it was the extreme heat at home. I really struggled with it. It was good to see that I’m back to where I was last year – probably a bit better. I surprised myself.”
Sport Director Dave McPartland shared in Hoskins’ sentiment.
“I’m happy with how the girls are riding in terms of form,” he said. “They’ve shown us that they’ve improved over the last month. We’re still not at international racing fitness levels, but I’m confident now that by the time Qatar comes, we’ll be where we need to be.”
“I’m particularly happy with Mel and how she got around Portarlington yesterday,” he added. “To get second on the course was particularly impressive for her.”
In addition to winning the general classification, ORICA-AIS took the team title and Tiffany Cromwell, riding as an individual rider, won the Sprint Ace Competition.
“I want to give a huge thanks to Macca and the rest of the team for all they did,” Hoskins said. “Hopefully it’s onwards for a successful season in 2013.”