Melissa Hoskins sprinted to second place on the opening day of racing at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic. The defending champion finished behind stage winner Kimberly Wells (Specialized Securitors) and ahead of Rochelle Gilmore (Wiggle Honda).
“We wanted a bunch sprint,” explained Sport Director Dave McPartland. “We put all of our effort into Mel and planned to deliver her to the line. The team was well organized at the finish, but we were upstaged by Kim Wells. She rode an impressive race.”
ORICA-AIS attacked aggressively from the gun at the Ritchie Boulevard Criterium. Despite their best efforts, they were unable to make any inroads.
“[Amanda] Spratt attacked constantly,” noted McPartland. “Shara [Gillow], Gracie [Elvin] and Tiff [Cromwell] all took their turns, too. Whenever we attacked, there was a response straightaway from the others. With so many fresh riders in the field, other teams were able to close the gaps pretty easily. The Specialized team rode an especially organized race. Every time we were on the front foot, they would cover us. With the help from a few individual riders, they kept the race together.”
Spratt remained aggressive as the laps ticked down. In the final five minutes of racing, ORICA-AIS began to prepare for the field sprint.
“Loes [Gunnewijk] lead Mel into the final corner,” explained McPartland. “As Loes was peeling off, Kim Wells attacked into the last corner with Gilmore on her wheel. The two of them came underneath Mel who went from first wheel to third wheel. Mel was able to overtake Rochelle in the sprint, but she couldn’t get over Wells.”
McPartland remains confident that ORICA-AIS can pull off a win tomorrow and defend Hoskins’ overall title.
“While we wanted to win today, it’s not a big issue to finish second,” said McPartland. “I’m happy with how the girls attacked. We showed we were strong and put on a good race for the spectators. Mel’s in good shape and the course tomorrow suits her. I expect the girls to win tomorrow.”