Simon Gerrans won the first road race of 2009 on Friday, taking the first criterium in the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic five-day series in Williamstown near Melbourne.

Gerrans won the mountain stage to Cuneo at the Tour de France in 2008 but showed his excellent criterium skills by getting in the key break and then winning the sprint ahead of Dean Windsor, Joel Pearson and new Australian criterium champion Bernie Sulzberger.

The quartet opened a 26 second gap at one point but was almost caught at the finish. However Gerrans started his sprint early and so managed to hold off big-name chasers such as Stuart O?Grady, Baden Cooke and Robbie McEwen.

The race was delayed by 90 minutes to allow McEwen to make his debut in his new Katusha colours after two flight delays. A taxi dropped McEwen off on the start line and he quickly put his bike together. Despite suffering early on in the race, he finished sixth in the sprint.

Gerrans got some help in the bunch from new Cervelo team mate Jeremy Hunt, who is also riding the Jayco series for the O2 Reflections. Kristian House is also riding before returning to Britain to join up with his new Rapha-Condor team mates.

The second race in the five-day series is around Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula on Saturday.

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