Mitch Docker took his first win in ORICA-GreenEDGE colours on the third stage of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic. Besting Harry Carpenter (Team SASI) in a two-up sprint, Docker’s win in Williamstown capped off a hugely successful race series for the Australian outfit.
“We won two stages, the sprint classification and the team classification,” said Sport Director Matt Wilson. “Four of our five riders were in the top ten overall with Docker our best placed in third. It was a fantastic three days of racing for the team. We couldn’t hope for much more. The guys have shown they’re in good condition.”
Docker was elated to be an integral part of the team’s success.
“This is my first win for the team, and my first win in several years, actually,” said Docker. “It’s always good to win for the team, and it’s a big confidence boost for me personally for the coming season. The team raced well together. Everyone had an important job, and we molded together to get the work done.”
A last minute adjustment to the race plan afforded Docker the opportunity to race for the stage win.
“Originally, we had planned to work for Leigh Howard,” explained Wilson. “We wanted to take him up for the sprint and give him a chance to win the stage. Unfortunately, he came down with a virus overnight, and he wasn’t able to race today.”
“We changed our plan before the start,” Wilson continued. “We had two guys up on the overall, but we knew it was unlikely we could get a good combination of riders together up the road and we would need to do that to take out the series. We decided to stick with our plan to go for the stage win, and Durbo [Luke Durbridge], Docker and [Jens] Mouris could all take their chances.”
Docker made the most of the opportunity when he initiated the race winning move ten minutes into the final day of racing. His early attack opened a gap ahead of the first intermediate sprint.
Carpenter joined Docker up the road ahead of the second intermediate sprint. Although a few riders attempted to bridge, the duo managed to hold off all chasers as they worked well together to stretch their gap out to nearly a minute.
Greg Henderson (Degani Bakery Café) jumped from the peloton ahead of the third intermediate sprint. His effort resulted in a reaction from the peloton that saw all chasers reabsorbed by the main bunch. The lead duo maintained a slim advantage heading into the final three laps.
“Carpenter attacked with a lap and half to go,” recalled Docker. “He attacked me from behind, so as soon as I got on his wheel, I stayed on it. I made him lead the sprint, and then I shot underneath him in the final corner. I made sure I was first one through that last corner. It’s maybe 250 metres from the line, and I sprinted from there.”
Docker won maximum points on all three intermediate sprints and landed the sprint jersey in addition to his stage win. He finished third on the general classification tied on points with Mouris in fourth and Durbridge in sixth. Leigh Howard managed ninth place despite missing the final day of racing.
“Last year we won the series overall with Allan Davis but never took a stage,” said Wilson. “This year, we took two stages. It’s been a good series for the team.”