Hoskins on verge of retaining title
Tiffany Cromwell crosses the finish line alone to win the elite women's event in Portarlington. Photo: Ken Irwin
Defending champion Melissa Hoskins put herself on the cusp of back-to-back Bay Cycling Classic wins as South Australian Tiffany Cromwell dominated stage two of the event on Wednesday.
Cromwell, riding as an individual after missing selection for her regular team Orica-GreenEDGE for the event, opened up a huge early break and maintained it to win the stage around Portarlington on Victoria's Bellarine Peninsula.
But West Australian Hoskins' second place has given her a vice-like grip on the overall series.
The Orica-GreenEDGE rider needs only a top-seven finish in Thursday's third and final criterium in Melbourne to secure Bay Classic victory.
Anytime Fitness Trek team rider Peta Mullens finished third behind Cromwell to move to second overall.
Tuesday's stage one winner Kimberley Wells struggled around the testing Portarlington circuit, but shares third place overall with Cromwell.
Hoskins has the luxury of the series being hers to lose.
"I've done the maths roughly ... and that was the big thing. I needed to get more than two points on [Wells] and get a little bit of a buffer leading into tomorrow," Hoskins said.
"I don't need to win tomorrow and there's not as much pressure on the team."
Cromwell exploded away from the peloton early around a course on which she also won a Bay Crit two years ago.
"It's a course I seem to like. It's a test of the fittest, the strongest," Cromwell said of Portarlington.
"I've done a lot of work over the last two weeks, and this just showed I'm well on the way to another good season."
The 24-year-old's dominance from the front also ensured both sprint leg victories.
She holds the green jersey for overall sprint leader going into the final two sprints during Thursday's race around Williamstown in Melbourne's west.