Stage 1: Hobart Teams Time Trial 18.1km
An 18km Team TT is not a friendly way to start a race, its only going to be painful. The time was taken from the 4th rider across the line so our plan was to ride a solid but steady tempo till 5 km to go then see how many guys we had left and lift the pace from there. The first 5km was super quick with everyone feeling fresh, from 5-10k the climb started to bite with some nasty steep sections. At 5km to go the Genesis team on a super quick ride caught us who were already down to 4 riders, Joey decided it was time to lift the pace and we quickly went from 6 riders to 4. I was unlucky number 4 and spent the last 3 km absolutely chewing my stem to hold pace with Caleb and Joey. Ouch. Very Ouch.
Stage 2: New Norfolk to Hamilton 61.4km
There were only 2 sprints all day and both early in the day’s stages so we thought it would be a good day to see if we could pick up the sprint jersey and mix it up trying to get into a break. Phil picked up the first sprint, Joey & Caleb grabbed some KOM points and all the guys were active jumping in moves but nothing was sticking. The last KOM caused the group to break up into a couple of groups but it all came together for a dicey little finish, two left turns with gravel in the last 500m after riding along a straight road for 5km. Joey got a little boxed in coming off the V Australia train in the sprint but still managed to finish 2nd.
Stage 3: Hamilton to Bronte Park 78.6km
This stage was always going to be nasty with some solid climbs coming later in the stage. Phil and I jumped across to a group of 3 riders’ 7km into the stage to pick up the only sprint and put Phil into the sprint jersey. The sprint was at the 15km mark and it took us 7k to get across to the three riders, just a nice little 7km pursuit to start the day leaving me pretty crossed up. After the sprint we both drifted back to the bunch quite quickly… then once the climbing started, kept drifting… some quality groupetto time in beautiful countryside. Joey got over the last climb in the front group and managed to finish off the stage in 4th.
Stage 4: Westbury Criterium 42km (30 Laps)
The first crit of the race and the plan was to get Phil up for the win. We followed moves all day, Julian took the lead in the sprints competition after getting in a very promising move with Chris that lasted till 1 lap to go. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get Phil or Joey in position early enough for the sprint, Joey ended up 5th.
Stage 5: Westbury to Deloraine 72.1km
We had a good feeling that a break might be given some time today, V Australia were in the lead and had already won 3 stages and lots of people had lost time the day before. Down 7 minutes on GC, Chris was super aggressive early in the stage away for most of the first 30km, unfortunately (and incorrectly) for him, V Australia thought he was in a break with Jai Crawford and chased hard to bring him back. When the break came back the attacks restarted, all the boys were active following moves and I managed to pick the move that stuck. With 40km remaining I jumped across to another rider hanging 100m off the front and we started driving it. We looked back and the bunch was fanned across the road seemingly happy to let us go. Our gap grew pretty quickly and topped out around 4 minutes before V Australia started to bring it back down. 1km from home I hit out over a little rise and rode in solo for my first win in quite a while. Things only got better when Phil won the bunch kick for 3rd & Chris picked up the most aggressive rider for the stage.
Stage 6: Ulverstone Criterium 36km (30 Laps)
The morning crit was fast and hard from the start almost looking like it would break up very early on. With around 4 laps to go the boys got the lead out train started at the front with Josh doing some massive pulls to keep the guys in the best position. After the stage he told us he could have gone faster but thought he was being told to slow down, pretty crazy considering he was doing around 50km/hour for 3 laps. Another close finish with Phil in 4th and Joey 2nd.
Stage 7: Ulverstone to Penguin 78.5km
The Gunns Plains stage starts with a 4km hill and with GC still super close it was aggressive from the start. Chris was in seemingly all the early moves but never given any room to play. Once we hit the decent to Gunns Plains the group strung out and then broke up on the acsent back up the other side. In the finish 3 riders slipped off the front off the lead group to take the win, Joey came in 4th after another solid ride.
Stage 8: Burnie Criterium 24km (30 Laps)
A 24km Crit around an 800m course was always going to be very fast and aggressive. Jake gave the field a lesson in cornering, mixed it up in the mid race breaks and still had gas left in the tank to help with the lead out with 5 laps to go. With 1/2 a lap to go Joey jumped as V Australia started to move up. With Phil on his wheel they had the best line into the last couple of corners and Phil came across the line first. Unfortunately the twisty and super fast finish caused crashes on the finish line & Joey showed some amazing skills to keep it rubber side down. Nice to get another win, never nice to see other riders hit the deck.
Stage 9: Burnie to West Mooreville 75.4km
With 5 climbs and GC still very close we were in for a solid afternoon stage. After the 12km neutral it was game on, with the first sprint after 900m, followed by the start of the first climb. I jumped into the first move of the day but we were never given much room and by the top of the climb it was all back together, for the next 50k, small goods would go away and come back never really getting more than 10-15 seconds. Once over the last of the climbs we changed from trying to get into breaks to keeping the bunch together for a sprint for Joey. The last 20km were slightly downhill so we covered them very quickly making it hard for any groups to get away. In the finish Josh and Chris set Joey up behind the Russians and things were looking good until his gears jumped just before the line. We finished up with 3 riders in the top 5 but half a wheel from first. A good but slightly disappointing end to the day.
Stage 10: Devonport Kermese 51.6km (12 Laps)
We woke up to a sunny but windy morning and with a waterfront course it was always going to hurt. GC was close enough that riders would still want to move up and the short distance meant others were happy to start the aggression. Julian jumped into the only real break of the day and was robbed of most aggressive rider for the day after doing most of the work in the break. The finish didn’t quite go our way after getting squeezed out in the last corner.
A very successful tour for the team with lots of close calls that could have gone our way with a little extra luck. Everyone is looking forward to putting on a strong showing at Grafton and Warnie.
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