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Internationals confirm cycling series wins

AAP logoAAP 2/01/2017 Roger Vaughan

Top Australian cyclists left the Bay Classic happy, despite international riders Ian Bibby and Valentina Scandolara breaking their domination of the series.

Star Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan and fellow Orica-Scott rider Jessica Allen won the final round of the Mitchelton series on Tuesday, the day before the road nationals start in Ballarat.

Ewan will be the rider to beat in the men's elite criterium on Wednesday and Allen also now looms as a chance in the women's race.

Many leading Australian riders used the Bay Classic to fine-tune their form for the road nationals, with the men's and women's road races this Sunday at Buninyong.

"That's part of the reason for coming here, to make sure the ducks are lined up and we go in full of confidence," said Orica-Scott women's team director Gene Bates.

"The girls got that out of these three days.

"Not only the nationals, but important races (after) - the Santos Women's Tour and Cadel's race, we really want to hit all those races with as much confidence and form as we can."

Bibby is a shock winner of the men's series after Ewan crashed on the last corner on Sunday night in Geelong.

He is the first international to win the men's series since Swiss Peter Stieger took out the inaugural Bay Classic in 1989.

Then there were two series, one on Mornington Peninsula and the other on Bellarine Peninsula.

Australians have won every series since the current format was introduced in 1992.

Bibby had a comfortable six-point lead heading into Tuesday's third race at Williamstown and he finished fourth after a strong performance from his JLT Condor team to ensure the series title.

"That was fantastic ... we had a plan and it worked out perfectly," Bibby said.

"If you told me that (I would win the series) last week, I probably would have laughed.

"I'm pretty happy."

Scandolara, from Italy, only led Orica-Scott leader Amanda Spratt by two points going into the last day.

But when a three-rider break including Allen went clear, it suited Scandolara perfectly.

Allen broke away by herself with two laps left to win, while Scandolara comfortably won the bunch sprint for fourth place.

She is only the second international to win the women's series, with compatriot Georgia Bronzini dominating three years ago.

Spratt finished eighth and Allen overtook her for second in the series standings.

Significantly, three of the five top women overall were from Orica-Scott.

"I'm really happy - at the beginning of the series, of course I knew Orica-Scott would be really strong," Scandolara said.

"I wanted to go for some wins and see what happens.

"I won the first win and it's the first time in four years I wear the (leader's) jersey, so I'm like 'well, let's try it'.

"I had one of the best sprinters in the world in Chloe Hosking leading me out - it was an easy job for me today, well, less difficult."

Scandolara used to ride for Orica-Scott and has visited Australia regularly for the past three years.

She is a former runner-up in the Bay Classic.

Scandolara was waving Italian and Australian flags to the crowd after her series win and said her nationality was now "50-50".

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