2023 CITROËN Bay Crits underway with a fairytale finish looming
Could it be a fairytale finish for the Jones boy, while Ruby shines again at the"Worlds Fastest Criterium Races".
It was a hot one for the traditional start to the new year of cycling, with sweltering 35+ degree conditions experienced by the juniors right through to the elites on day one of the famous CITROËN Bay Crits.
But the heat was also on the track as the big guns and big teams fired on the first day, with two different stories emerging from the elite racing from two riders at opposite ends of their careers.
In front of a vocal new years day crowd it was the strength of the powerhouse Bayside CITROËN team that got Brenton Jones over the line in the men's event, while in the women's event it was Ruby Rosemon-Gannon, also in Bayside CITROËN colours who stormed home for the win setting herself up for a shot at back-to-back CITROËN Bay Crits glory.
Jones, who has announced he will be retiring from competitive racing at the conclusion of the Bay Crits, hid cleverly amongst the peloton before being expertly delivered to the line by his team, and surging to victory to raise the prospect of a fairytale finish.
Luke Plapp animated the race early, the INEOS WorldTour rider part of the Bayside Citroen all-star line-up enforcing his experience on the chasing pack. There was an early breakaway that saw Tom Chester, Elliot Schultz (Team Bridgelane) and James Moriarty (CCACHE-Par Kup) gain some distance.
2022 Tour de France stage winner Simon Clarke broke the race open with 10 minutes remaining, pushing to the front and extracting every ounce of the peloton’s energy. He was riding in his WorldTour Israel Premier Tech trade colours, but for this event is part of the Novotel Prestige Jayco team. This time last year Clarke had no contract and a strong performance at the crits helped him springboard back into the top tier.
Last years winner Blake Quick (Bayside CITROËN) - who Jones had guided to victory 12 months ago worked with Plapp to launch Jones to the strong victory, his first actual win despite claiming the title in 2014 on points.
The 31 year old Jones is a former National Criterium Champion, has raced in Europe and competed in Paris-Roubaix and is about to become a father, so after nearly 20 years of racing getting the victory today has put him a step closer to the perfect swan-song.
Winner - Brenton Jones (Bayside CITROËN)
“It might be good to finish on a high and maybe keep it going, It was a great day today and I can’t thank Blake and the boys enough. It was a sensational lead-out, must have been copying someone from last year ..haha.., and I was really happy to get the win for the boys.”
In the women's event Ruby Roseman-Gannon took out the stage one honours - 24-year-old is riding for the all-star Bayside Citroën team and had to battle some high calibre opposition, as well as the sweltering conditions at Geelong’s Eastern Gardens.
The 2022 National Criterium champion using this event as a perfect lead up to defending her green and gold title next week in Ballarat.
Rounding out the podium was World Champion silver medallist Amanda Spratt (Novatel Prestige Jayco) and veteran Peta Mullens (Roxsolt Liv SRAM).
The racing saw early attacks from Roseman-Gannon and her team mates Matilda Raynolds, Elizabeth Stannard and triple Commonwealth Games gold medallist Georgia Baker, with Rachel Wales (ARA Skip Capital), Danielle De Francesco and Spratt all keen to seek advantage.
Winner - Ruby Rosemon-Gannon (Bayside CITROËN)
“We wanted to be pretty aggressive and I think we were. We kept sending people up the road during the race. It ended being that it was too hard out there and not enough teams wanted to cooperate out the front so we went for the bunch sprint and I had a great lead out from the team. You can always depend on Georgia and the other teammates, I really appreciate their work.
The event includes three stages with tomorrow’s racing held on the same course, but in the anti-clockwise direction
Earlier in the day a reformatted and revitalised junior race series, supported by the Spirit of Tasmania, saw the best of the emerging teenage talent racing the same circuits as their heroes.
Racing continues at Eastern Gardens tomorrow - the same venue with the race going in the opposite direction and then the big finale at Ritchie Boulevard on Tuesday January 3 with the tight turns of the 'hot-dog' track set to stage (as always) some of the closest racing we have seen in Australia.
More than 200 cyclists are competing in the men’s and women’s elite Criterium and support events, across January 2023 in Geelong.
Fairytale finish to glittering career for Jones, while Ruby rules again.
Fairytales do come true, as Jones scores swansong win by narrowest of margins, while Roseman-Gannon again dominates the women's event.
Stage two at CITROËN Bay Crits sees Frislie fly and Ruby rule
Graeme Frislie flies into the yellow leaders jersey, while a Ruby Roseman-Gannon repeat is just one win away.