Tasmanians triumph in Tour of Tassie
Lachlan Norris (Drapac) has all but sealed up the Caterpillar Underground Mining Tour of Tasmania, after he retained the yellow leaders jersey on the penultimate day of the six day tour.
Norris sits 14 seconds ahead of Mark O’Brien (Budget Forklifts) and 51 seconds to Nathan Earle (Genesys) in the general classification and has only one stage left to contest – a 51.6km Kermese in Devonport.
“It’s certainly not over but we are a lot closer to winning the tour now. Tomorrow will be a big day,” Norris said.
However it was a day for the local riders with Launceston born Ben Grenda claiming line honours in the mornings criterium before Campbell Flakemore of Hobart took out the afternoons road stage.
Launceston born Grenda grabbed his second win for the tour after he took out a bunch sprint to the line over Alex Wohler (Team Down Under) second and Scott Law (Search2Retain) third in the stage seven criterium in Burnie.
In somewhat of a ‘home tour’ for the 22-year-old, Grenda said he was very happy with the win after claiming line honours in the Ulverstone criterium on Friday.
“I have been doing the Burnie crit for years,” he said. “This is a technical finish and the local knowledge always helps. I have a few friends out here to cheer me on which is really nice,” Grenda said.
Spectators lined the waterfront to watch the fast paced criterium – rider completing the laps in just 1 minute.
The criterium also played host to a race within the race for the sprinters jersey.
Neil Van Der Pleog (Search2Retain) and Daniel Barry (Felt NZ) had just one point separating the two heading into stage seven, 24-year-old Barry the leader.
Search2Retain teammate Luke Fetch worked hard to help Van Der Ploeg overtake the kiwi for the jersey who now leads by 12 points.
Stage eight saw Flakemore break away from a lead group of eight riders inside the final 5 kilometres to claim his own ‘home tour’ win.
Plan B rider Bradley Linfield had the legs to go with Flakemore and placed second while Sam McCallum (Polygon) crossed the line in third place.
The 20-year-old said he was pleased to have notched up a win for the Tasmanian based Genesys Wealth team.
“It’s special to get a win in Tasmania because I live here and it’s great to get a win for the team as well because we haven’t had a very successful tour by our standards,” Flakemore said.
The final road stage for the tour saw rolling hills and hairy descents, at times with gravel and narrow bridges to contend - the short course allowing for another early break.
Flakemore, Brodie Talbot (Central Coast) and McCallum formed a break after 6km of racing following a lengthy 12km period in neutral.
Five riders soon gave chase and formed a lead bunch of eight at the 34km mark.
Budget, Genesys, SASI, Plan B, Team Down Under, Central Coast, Search2Retain and Team Polygon were all represented in the break, and with no threat to GC the group were allowed to gain a 3 minute advantage.
Jay Bourke (TDU) made his move to string out the lead group with 8km left to race, seeing Talbot and Herzig (Budget) dropped.
Inside the final 5km, Flakemore and Linfield kicked and left the remaining four to fight it out for third place.
“The break was looking like it was going to stick and when the gap got to 3minutes I knew there would be attacks.
“Brad and I eventually got away – there was a hill 6km from the finish and I went maximum power over the top and Brad came with me so we just swapped off until the finish,” Flakemore said.
The final stage in the Tour of Tasmania, the ninth event for men in the 2012 Subaru National Road Series, is a 51.6km Kermese in Devonport, starting at 12:30pm, Sunday.