Friday, January 10, 2014

Bay Criteriums 2014 - a nice way to start the year

Fortunately I was allowed some time off work over New Year, and we were able to squeeze in a short trip to Geelong to watch the 'Bay Crits'. Having raced them in 2011, I wondered what it would be like to be sitting on the sidelines this time... but to be honest, it was just as good, and without the hurt!

In particular, it was great to see that more women raced this series of Bay Crits than ever before (and there were more elite women this year than elite men for the first time), and it was an honor to see Italian (previous world champ) Giorgia Bronzini race the circuits too (for Wiggle Honda).

Race #1 was at Ritchie Blvd, a tight hot dog circuit with the potentially slippery drain-covers on the corners. With most girls having fresh legs for this first race, it was hard and fast, with Bronzini demonstrating what she does best, and winning the bunch sprint.

Race #2 was at Eastern Gardens, and was once again a tough race, with a tight off-camber right handed corner, leading to a fast tail wind section, and then a tough little pinch before returning to the finish line. Chloe Hosking (SUVelo / Hitec) apparently started her final run too soon, but she did well to hold off the other sprinters to win this one.

Race #3 was at the tricky Portarlington circuit, with lots of intermittent wind and rain, interspersed with some sunshine (... this is winter or summer?). For Brisbanites like me, it was a cold day! Previously this was always a circuit that favoured a breakaway by some climbers, but I think this year, everyone was too aware of what may happen, and most of the breakaway attempts were quickly shut down, or monitored very closely by the bunch. Bronzini showed her skill again and won this one again from a bunch sprint.

Race #4 was back closer to Melbourne at Williamstown and the sun came out again to make it a great warm day. Again, everyone was on the alert for breakaways, and although the bunch let one group get away, it was only for a limited period of time before they were reeled back in. Another bunch sprint resulted, and Bronzini had one more chance to show what she does best.

Photos by JXPPhotography, with amateur shots by Brad Gooda.  :)

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