Mitch Docker sprinted to second from a six rider breakaway that lapped the field on the second day of the NSW Grand Prix. New signing Michael Matthews (RAB) rounded out the podium. The duo was bested by Tom Palmer (Drapac) for the win.
“The race pretty much split up from the start,” reported Docker. “It was crazy windy today. Heppy [Michael] was in the front group with me at the start, but he had a mechanical and ended up dropping from the break.”
With Hepburn out of the move, the five remaining riders evenly shared the workload. Eventually, Jack Edwards (NSWIS) bridged across.
“He had a really good ride to make it across to us late in the race,” noted Docker. “Once he joined us, we were six. We ended up lapping the field. After that, there was no real urgency to keep the move going.”
Docker led out the sprint.
“Because of the crosswinds, I thought it was better to open the sprint,” Docker explained. “I thought it was better to lead it out and maybe be able to hang on for the win then sit back and never came around the guys in front of me. Only Tom could ride around me. He’s got a good sprint.”
Earlier in the afternoon, new recruit Gracie Elvin (AIS) sprinted to second after putting herself into a late race break. Elvin joined current teammate Ashlee Ankudinoff (AIS) up the road.
“Shara attacked in the last five minutes of the race,” said Sports Director Dave McPartland. “After she was brought back, Ash attacked and Gracie followed her. Shara couldn’t respond to the counter-attack and Loes [Gunnewijk] was on the back foot from an effort she had made at mid-point of the race.”
Having started with only two riders -- Gillow and Gunnewijk -- ORICA-AIS raced conservatively during the first half of the 24 kilometer race.
“We got amongst the action around the mid-point,” McPartland explained. “Both Shara and Loes tried to get away quite a few times. Loes did an especially good attack and stayed away for a few laps.”
Despite repeated attacks, the race stayed together until the closing kilometers.
“It was blowing a gale out there today, and the wind made things quite dangerous,” noted McPartland. “Our priority was to stay at the front to keep out of trouble before getting a good hit out for a result in the end. It looked promising all the way until the finish.”
“Shara got in a good attack at the end, but she couldn’t quite get a gap,” McPartland continued. “Gracie and Ash countered the move and were able to stay away.”