Delko Marseille Provence sprinter Brenton Jones streaked to his first win at the Australian National Criterium Championships in Ballarat, Victoria, on Friday evening, getting the better of Team BridgeLane’s Tristan Ward and Bora-Hansgrohe’s Jay McCarthy in the bunch sprint.
Mitchelton-Scott’s sole representative, Rob Stannard, was arguably the most active rider of the day, ending up in sixth place for his efforts, having forced himself into a number of breaks during the race over the same 40-lap, 44km distance as the elite women’s race, won for the second year in a row by Rebecca Wiasak.
Just like in the women’s race, as the laps ticked by, it looked more and more likely that things were going to end in a bunch sprint, with riders in ones, twos and threes splintering off the front only to be reeled back in a short time later.
EF Education First’s Lachlan Morton was active on the front of the race with 14 laps to go, riding almost incognito in contrast to his team’s usual fluorescent kits, which is yet to be unveiled for 2019.
There was still no sign of favourite Jones, who preferred to keep his powder dry in the relative safety of the bunch as the laps continued to be ticked off. With Lotto Soudal’s Caleb Ewan opting not to start the race, in favour of putting all of his eggs into the road race basket on Sunday, Jones would have already been starting to fancy his chances.
But with four laps left, Stannard rocketed off the front, leaving the entire Team BridgeLane squad to give chase, initially appearing to set things up for their sprinter Neil Van Der Ploeg.
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