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Bibby on verge of cycling classic history

AAP logoAAP 2/01/2017 Roger Vaughan

Unheralded British cyclist Ian Bibby is jet-lagged, unscathed and on the verge of making Bay Classic history.

The 30-year-old finished second behind Australian Michael Hepburn at Portarlington on Monday to retain his series lead with one race left.

No overseas rider has won the men's series since the classic started in 1992.

Bibby has "done a Bradbury", putting himself in the right spots and prevailing as riders around him have crashed.

He was the shock winner of race one in Geelong when Australian star Caleb Ewan crashed while leading into the last corner.

Then Queenslander Jesse Kerrison, Bibby's main threat for the series lead, also went down on a corner near the end of Monday's race.

"Everyone seems to fall off around me and I seem to somehow avoid it," Bibby said.

"I had a bit of luck yesterday, but it was quite nice to back it up today.

"Jesse was unlucky crashing."

While Bibby remains wary of his rivals, especially Ewan, Hepburn and the rest of the powerful Orica-Scott team, he has a comfortable six-point lead.

It means his Condor JLT team can ride defensively in the last race at suburban Williamstown and protect him.

Adding to the lustre of Bibby's performance, he only flew out from Europe on Boxing Day.

While he remained jet-lagged, Bibby said it helped that the weather for racing had not been as hot as usual.

Portarlington also represented a return to form for Orica-Scott after Sunday's opening round.

Their top woman Amanda Spratt dominated her race, nearly lapping the field.

Spratt trails Italian Valentina Scandolara by only two points ahead of a Williamstown showdown.

While the Orica-Scott women felt they had a point to prove at Portarlington, Hepburn said the men merely wanted to keep building their form.

The main focus for the Orica-Scott men and women is the road nationals later this week in Ballarat.

While Ewan suffered plenty of road rash in his Geelong crash, he led Monday's race for several laps and showed he would be ready for the nationals.

"Crashes are just something that happen - we can't fault anyone yesterday," Hepburn said.

"We put ourselves in a position to get a result there at the end.

"One small moment like that can cost you a race, but we're here to get some hard racing in, to prepare, to get ready for the nationals.

"Every race we do here is another stepping stone to that, so it's just nice to get a win."

Hepburn's first win at the Bay Classic was a good sign for him ahead of Thursday's time trial at the nationals.

He won the national time trial crown in 2014 and would again be among the favourites.

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