New signing Michael Matthews sprinted to victory in the first of two races that make up the NSW International Grand Prix. The young Australian was part of a three rider break that included soon-to-be teammate Jens Mouris and Aaron Gate. The trio stayed away to contest the finish amongst themselves with Matthews outsprinting Gate for the win while Mouris rounded out the podium.
Mitch Docker, Leigh Howard and Michael Hepburn joined Matthews and Mouris in Cronella.
“Michael attacked with Aaron, and Jens bridged across early on,” explained Docker. “Leigh tried to get across with another rider in the middle of the race while Heppy and I did our best to control the bunch. Leigh didn’t make it across, and the rest of us raced for minor places in the end.”
Docker described the day as a good first race back following summer training.
“It was by no means an easy race,” Docker said. “It turned out to be a hard little circuit in the end, and it gave us a chance to try out some things without any of the pressure we encounter during the season. Things were really relaxed before the start, and we had a lot of fun with the racing.”
ORICA-AIS fielded a three-rider squad for the women’s race in Cronulla. Tiffany Cromwell, Jessie MacLean and Amanda Spratt each launched an attack during their 24 kilometer race.
“None of the attacks ever stuck,” explained McPartland. “It came down to a field sprint in the end. In hindsight, we probably were a little bit too aggressive. If we had been a bit more conservative, we could have taken Jessie to the finish in better condition. We rarely just sit in – that makes for negative racing – but our general fitness isn’t at its best at the moment. We’re racing in the middle of team training camp. The girls did a good job with only base miles in their legs.”
McPartland notes that an interesting dynamic exists during summer racing in Australia.
“The main race season in Australia is in the summer, and a lot of these girls are using races during this month to put their hand up to be picked to go to Europe,” explained McPartland. “This is the time of year when Australian-based riders are in their best condition and really going for results. Our riders are one month removed from their off season, and they’re still finding their form.”
“The girls didn’t finish anywhere in the results in the end,” McPartland continued. “I’m not too stressed about that. By the time we get to the [Jayco] Bay Crits, I want to see them winning. Right now, they still have work to do – and they’re doing it.”
The NSW International Grand Prix concludes tomorrow in Wollongong.