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By Benjamin Fitzmaurice
The second day of the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic was all about thrills and spills. Graeme Brown of Rabobank took out his first win of the season in impressive style leading a bunch finish which saw Robbie McEwen (Team Katyusha), Baden Cooke (Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team), Simon Gerrans (Cervelo Test Team) and Nic Sanderson (Rock Racing) finish third, seventh, eighth and tenth respectively.
The stage involved a long two-kilometer course on uneven tarmac with bumps and gnarls reminiscent of the shock pavé can bring. It was a smart win from Brown. Going into the first sprint point Brown came to the front of the bunch to contest the minor sprint points on offer. This exertion was not for the benefit of getting points for the sprinters jersey but reconnaissance for the penultimate lap when he would need to know when to commence the sprint and where to be.
Brown is known for his aggression and high end speed in the final 300 to 500 meters of a race, but he is not credited enough for his race cunning which can only be gained from experience and maturity.
“I love to entertain,” Brown said from the podium and that is what he did.
Late in the race Brown’s teammates for Team Urban Hotel, Darren Lapthorne and Kristian House of Rapha Condor set up a five man break away group forcing the peloton to react.
Lapthorne could not be left unattended in the break away causing the main bunch to aggressively pull them back in an effort to neutralise the situation.
The exertion of the main bunch proved telling as Brown waited for his opportunity to arise where he could leap onto the pedals for a high voltage charge to the line.
“These crits are pretty quick,” Brown said. “I use my power metre all the time and generally in the Bay Crits you average 350 watts for an hour. I use this in preparation for the Tour Down Under. It gives me that little extra percentage. It is the hour of power and basically is full on for that hour and gives me that last little zip for the Tour Down Under.”
“Today was actually quite tough, quite tough when you are out in the wind but when you are in the wheels it is easier,” Brown’s teammate House said. “Everyone is racing really well and there is not too much trouble. This course is incredibly fast with no need to brake.”
Unfortunately not every rider escaped trouble. Rahsaan Bahati of Rock Racing came down hard in the final lap. Initially it had been feared that Bahati may have broken his collarbone but X-rays later showed that he had avoided a fracture.
Andrew Stalder of Team 2XU avoided going down with Bahati and said that the crash looked nasty as the group was traveling at 60 kilometers per hour. Despite the crash Bahati has vowed to be on the start line for stage 3 of the race.
Due to his eighth place, Gerrans lost the leaders jersey to Australian Continental rider, Joel Pearson of Savings and Loans. Pearson will wear the jersey going stage 3 of the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic which is a shorter course on similar terrain.
1. Graeme Brown, Urban Hotel
2. Joel Pearson, Savings & Loans
3. Robbie McEwen, Katyusha
4. Leigh Howard, Jayco VIS
5. Bernie Sulzberger, Virgin Blue
6. Michael Stallard, Savings & Loans
7. Baden Cooke, O2 Networks?Reflections Group
8. Simon Gerrans, O2 Networks?Reflections Group
9. Cody Stevenson, Budget Forklifts
10. Nic Sanderson, Rock Racing
Overall, after Stage 2
1. Joel Pearson, Savings & Loans, 18 pts
2. Graeme Brown, Urban Hotel, 16
3. Simon Gerrans, O2 Networks?Reflections Group, 15
4. Robbie McEwen, Katyusha, 13
5. Bernie Sulzberger, Virgin Blue, 13
6. Dean Windsor, Mazda, .10
7. Baden Cooke, O2 Networks?Reflections Group, 10
8. Leigh Howard Jayco, VIS, 7
9. Michael Stallard, Savings & Loans, 5
10. Mark Renshaw, Mazda, .3
11. Cody Stevenson, Budget Forklifts, 2
12. Jono Cantwell, Virgin Blue, 2
13. Nic Sanderson, Rock Racing, 1
14. Brett Aitken, Savings & Loans, 1