Three in top ten for ORICA-GreenEDGE at Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic openerThu 2 Jan 2014
Luke Durbridge and Matt Goss went on the attack during stage one of the 2014 season opener, forming part of a winning seven-man breakaway at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic in Geelong. Leigh Howard sprinted from the lapped following bunch to take out eighth position; placing three ORICA-GreenEDGE riders in the final top ten behind winner Zak Dempster (SASI).
The stage one hot-dog course was a furious flurry of early attacks, with the breakaway forming quickly. ORICA-GreenEDGE was seemingly poised for victory, with young Aussie powerhouse Luke Durbridge in the move and sprinter Matt Goss bridging the gap to the break over two blistering laps.
“The break formed early today, we had two guys out of the seven escapees, with Durbridge and Goss,” said Sport Director Matt Wilson. “The other guys did a great job of controlling and blocking behind in the bunch, which gave Durbo and Gossy the best chance of a win."
“Most guys were watching Goss for the win today,” continued Wilson. “But he wasn’t at his best- it’s a bit early in the season for him. The boys talked during the race and decided Durbo had the best shot. The explosive jumps out of the corners don’t suit Durbo, so he knew his best chance was to get away alone rather than wait for a sprint. He was in super form today, and he made multiple attempts to get away from the break, but he was just marked so heavily that it never eventuated."
In the bunch behind, ORICA-GreenEDGE riders rode defensively, shutting down potentially damaging attacks from sprinters Caleb Ewan (Subaru NSWIS) and Steele Von Hoff (Procon Telematics). As the break gathered speed and momentum, they lapped the following bunch with six laps to go, ensuring the winner would come from the lead group of seven. Despite the two-man advantage, Durbridge and Goss missed out on a podium finish, placing fifth and sixth respectively.
“Obviously we would have liked to get the win from that position. On paper fifth and sixth doesn’t look like a great result, but we aren’t disappointed given the way the guys rode today,” said Wilson. "Leigh Howard also rode really well, he helped control the race, then took out the bunch kick for eighth place. That gives him some points for the overall, so he'll be looking to take his chances in the coming stages."
Looking ahead, the next two days of racing appear to be well suited to the characteristics of the ORICA-GreenEDGE riders.
“The next couple of days suit us a lot better than today did. Today’s circuit is just such a gamble," confirmed Wilson. "It’s so short and aggressive. The next couple of stages are more road-style races, they’re big and open and better suited to our guys’ abilities. We’ll definitely be out for the win tomorrow.