Fortune favours the bold, and the saying was proven true by Georgie Howe (Knights of Suburbia), who built a race-winning lead from an attack on Mt Misery, then nearly 70 kilometres of riding by herself in a lone breakaway to claim victory in Inverloch.
Howe won by a margin of 42 seconds, ensuring that she would overtake overnight leader Maeve Plouffe (ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) and move to the top of the overall standings.
“The plan was always to attack on the climb. Inform were setting a good pace, Emily (Watts) attacked, and as soon as I saw that she was coming back, I chose that time to attack, hoping someone would come with me, but it ended up just being me, myself and I. I just choofed on, picked a powerzone and stuck to that.”
Behind Howe, there were discussions among the squads about who was primarily responsible for the chase, with the resultant lull in speed, giving Howe more space than was prudent for the teams hoping to prevent her from winning.
“To be fair, I was doing about 40 kilometres an hour,” said Howe, “so the bunch would have to have been pretty organized to bring that back. I was confident that if I just stuck to that power and got my head down that I could go to the line.”
An early attack from Inverloch was neutralised by the peloton, with the imposing climb of Mount Misery an early spark point in the race.
Emily Watts (Knights of Surburbia) started the attacks on the climb, surging away from the group before counterattacks from Alyssa Polites (Sydney Uni-Staminade) and Georgie Howe (Knights of Suburbia) caught and passed Watts.
Howe kept going over the top and pushed out to a solo lead, the former rower steadily expanding her lead with a strong, sustained effort. Around the Kongwak circuit, Howe pushed out her lead to a maximum of two minutes and seven seconds with 25 kilometres left to race.
The continued pace of the larger group saw Howe’s lead diminished on the run to the finish, but she powered through, punching the air as she crossed the line 42 seconds ahead of the chasing group, which was led home by Amber Pate (Inform TMX Make) ahead of previous race leader Maeve Plouffe, who relinquished the yellow jersey to Howe.
It was a triumphant return to the top step of the podium at national level for Cameron Scott (ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) as he won the sprint on Stage 2 of the men’s Mitchelton Tour of Gippsland in Inverloch.
It was a fast, technical finish to the race, with Scott rounding the final corner on the inside, able to hold off Brenton Jones (Inform TMX Make) and Myles Stewart (Nero Continental) in the dash to the finish as he continued ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast’s winning form at the race.
“As a team we had a responsibility with the yellow jersey,” said Scott, “which meant we had to ride and we were on the front all day. My teammates did an unreal job keeping the breakaway. It came back and we just got ready for the leadout. We did everything right and it paid off in the end.”
Scott was one of the worst affected by a crash in the National Tour in the Tweed towards the end 2020, with the softly spoken sprinter completing a remarkably quick recovery from a broken sternum and internal injuries. He spoke of his joy at getting back to the top step of a national level podium.
“It feels awesome, it’s taken a bit to get in form again,” said Scott. I took it easy from the start and looked to rebuild slowly again. I’ve done a few races over the summer and been close a few times, it’s really nice to get back on top.”
It was an early breakaway of good quality, with Melbourne to Warrnambool and Under 23 men’s road race winner Nicholas White (Team Bridgelane) in there along with Myles Stewart, Tali Lane Welsh (Giant Racing), Daniel Luke (Oliver’s Real Food Racing) and Joel Green (Cyclehouse) jumping away on the flat section out of the start/finish in Inverloch.
They stretched out their lead heading into the hills with the appropriately named Mount Misery an early obstacle for the riders. Green was dropped on the early slopes and returned to the peloton, with the leading five reduced to four.
There was an attack from the main bunch, with James Whelan (Team Bridgelane) trying to launch his way over to his teammate at the front of the race. He was marked by race leader Kane Richards (ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast), 2nd placed Liam Johnston (Inform TMX Make) with Cameron Scott (ARA Pro Racing Coast) there as well. With the move followed, Whelan didn’t continue the attack, and the pace slackened behind, with the four leaders pushing out their lead to three minutes with 57 kilometres left in the race.
The main group woke up under the impetus of ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast and Inform TMX Make and began to steadily decrease the leaders’ advantage. With the gap down to just over a minute with 22kms to go, White launched a big attack on a climb, immediately gaining a big lead on his former breakaway companions.
White kept his lead for a good period, pushing a big gear as he fought to hold off the teams spoiling for a sprint. He was captured with just over ten kilometres remaining with the flat finish outside Inverloch Primary school set for a sprint.
ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast battled Inform TMX Make through the technical finale to position their sprinter, Scott, first through the final corner, with the Wagga local finishing the job, holding off Jones and Stewart to win.
The Under-19's Stage 2 were raced hard, with a strong group in the Under-19 men's race brought back before William Heffernan won the bunch sprint. Bendigo local Belinda Bailey was the quickest in the sprint finish in the Under-19 women's race, propelling herself to win with a powerful effort over the slight uphill run to the finish line on Lynnes Rd.