By Nigel Wynn
Ian Bibby (JLT Condor) has become the first British rider to win the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic criterium series (January 1-3) in Australia.
The former British cyclo-cross and circuit race national champion won the first of the three races on Monday in Geelong, before finishing second and fourth in the subsequent two rounds in Portarlington and Williamstown to defend his lead.
Bibby's victory came as a surprise, as he inherited the responsibility of team leadership after JLT Condor's Brenton Jones was taken out in a crash on the opening day.
"It’s fantastic," Bibby said after the victory. "To start the year off like this has been really, really good. I’m really happy. If you told me this would happen last week, I would have laughed."
The series has been used by many Australian top-name sprinters in the past as they warm-up for the following season.
Former winners include Mark Renshaw, Matt Goss, Chris Sutton, Robbie McEwen and Caleb Ewan.
Ewan (Orica-Scott) won the final day as he prepares for the Tour Down Under on January 17-22.
In addition to becoming the first Brit to claim overall victory, Bibby is only the second non-Australian to win the series. Swiss rider Peter Steiger won the inaugural edition in 1989.
Bibby signed to Continental British outfit JLT Condor for the 2017 season having ridden for NFTO for two seasons.
Italian Valentina Scandolara (Alé Cycling) won the women's series ahead of Australian Orica-Scott duo Jessica Allen and Amanda Spratt.
Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic Series final general classification
1. Ian Bibby (GBr) JLT Condor 29 points
2. Mathew Gibson (GBr) JLT Condor 24 points
3. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-Scott 18 points
4. Brenton Jones (Aus) JLT Condor 17 points
5. Anthony Giacoppo (Aus) Isowhey Sports-Swisswellness 16 points
6. Samuel Spokes (Aus) Total Rush 14 points
7. Michael Hepburn (Aus) Orica-Scott 12 points
8. Jesse Kerrison (Aus) Isowhey Sports-Swisswellness 10 points
9. Cameron Bayly (Aus) Isowhey Sports-Swisswellness 9 points
10. Patrick Lane (Aus) VTwo Team 5 points
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