Rising star … Kimberley Wells wins in Geelong. Photo: Graham Tidy
A DOCTOR pursuing a lifelong dream to cycle professionally made the perfect start to the year by upstaging more experienced rivals to win the opening race of the year.
Kimberley Wells relegated the defending Bay Cycling Classic champion, Orica GreenEDGE leader Melissa Hoskins, to second place, pulling off the victory in a 45-minute criterium with an impressive move in the last 50 metres.
By boxing in Hoskins and three-time Bay Cycling Classic champion Rochelle Gilmore in the final turn of the hotdog circuit, she stalled their dash to the line and paved the way for herself.
Wells, 27, is a practising doctor willing to put her day job aside if she can land a professional cycling contract. Her performance on the Geelong foreshore riding for the two-year-old Specialized Securitor team, which will contest the national road series domestically this year, impressed national women's road coach Martin Barras.
If Wells continues to impress through January - she will ride at the national road titles - Barras could yet invite her to join the national program that operates out of Europe. That's precisely the kind of break Wells is looking for.
''I was feeling pretty nervous because it's a real step up,'' said Wells, who is being coached by retired Australian champion and Olympic gold medallist Sara Carrigan.
''If you think about it too much, it can be a bit off-putting because you can feel that impostor syndrome about racing against these internationally known riders but, once you do that first pedal stroke, all of that disappears and it's about trying the right position in the race and finding those good wheels.
''I've dabbled in cycling for a long time but it's probably in the last year or two that I've decided to take it to a more serious level in terms of getting coaching and making myself available for more racing.''
Wells is doing locum work, mostly in hospitals, in order to be as flexible as possible for cycling and is aiming to race overseas this year if she impresses enough to be recruited.
''I'm doing extra study because I don't want to lose my skills but I'm pretty keen on the cycling,'' she said.
Meanwhile, NSW youngster Caleb Ewan blasted his way to a sensational victory in the opening stage of the Bay Cycling Classic, backing up his dual victories in last year's event.
The 18-year-old reeled in breakaway leaders Jens Mouris of Orica-GreenEDGE and New Zealander Tom Scully to win comfortably in the first of the three-race criterium series.
The second race will be held at Portarlington on Wednesday, with the third in Melbourne on Thursday.
RESULTS - Bay Cycling Classic, stage one, Geelong. Elite women: 1. Kimberley Wells ACT (Specialized Securitor); 2. Melissa Hoskins WA (Orica-AIS); 3. Rochelle Gilmore NSW (Wiggle Honda).