It was a final stage win for Josie Talbot (Sydney Uni-Staminade) on Phillip Island, with Georgie Howe (Knights of Suburbia) securing the overall Mitchelton Tour of Gippsland title with a top ride.
The Phillip Island town of Rhyll played host to the riders for the final stage of the Mitchelton Tour of Gippsland, with warm, breezy conditions greeting the peloton.
The women’s race began with a steady tempo, the teams of the sprint favourites and the overall contenders content to consolidate their positions within the race. Surges from Matilda Raynolds (Inform TMX Make) and Josie Talbot (Sydney Uni-Staminade) were neutralised, with the intermediate sprints contested in the battle for seconds on the overall and the Simon Anderson sprint classification.
The final few laps were a battle of the sprint trains to position their fastest rider first in the line for the sprint.
The flat, fast finish was taken out in the end by Josie Talbot who launched up the far side, forcing all that wanted to pass her to ride in the wind. The Sydney Uni-Staminade rider outmuscled Amber Pate (Inform TMX Make) and Maeve Plouffe (ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) to take the win.
“It took us three days to take the win but we got there in the end,” said Talbot. “We had riders on the front stringing it out and putting me in the perfect position, I just had to protect myself on the corners and make sure no one snuck up the inside. I sprinted up the inside, which was a bit more sheltered and managed to get the win.”
Overnight race leader Howe finished in fourth to take out the Mitchelton Tour of Gippsland overall after her superb solo win the day before.
“It’s a surreal experience,” said Howe. “Everytime I looked around, there was one of them there protecting me, protecting the race win and I managed to get the ‘w’ for the tour… an incredible tour.
“We have a phenomenal culture in this team. It’s what Knights of Surburbia is about as a team, and the modus operandi is that we’re not just here to roll around.”
Plouffe had been the leader overall after his opening stage win, but she ended up second overall, with Pate finishing third overall.
The Simon Anderson Consultants sprint classification was won by Maeve Plouffe, with Justine Barrow (Roxsolt Liv SRAM) taking out the Findex mountains classification, with Sophie Edwards (ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) winning the Warragul Crownlea young rider classification as the top Under 23 rider in the race. Inform TMX Make won the teams classification for the race.
The overall NRS standings saw a bit of a shake-up with Plouffe moving into the overall lead of the domestic series, with the ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast rider building upon her strong showing at the Festival of Cycling in South Australia, with another stage win and overall podium finish in Gippsland. ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast also took the overall lead in the NRS team standings, with 645 points to Knights of Surburbia’s 508.
It was the fast-finishing Cameron Scott (ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) who flashed home to take out Stage 3 of the Mitchelton Tour of Gippsland as Kane Richards secured the overall title with a strong ride on the final day criterium to confirm his overall race victory.
“We won the stage before, the idea was to do the exact same thing today,” said Scott. “The plan was to stay together with my teammates, other riders normally give you a bit of room when you’re on your teammates’ wheel.”
Teammate Kane Richards didn’t shirk working for his teammate Scott, and was rarely far from the front of the peloton in the battle for position.
“I figured if we tried to go for the stage win,“ said Richards, “I’d be up there anyway and I’d be ok in the general classification, kill two birds.”
Richards crossed the line with the fight for the general classification all sewn up able to celebrate with his squad after three days of hard racing on the Bass Coast.
“The team rode super well,” said Richards. “I had some good form coming off TDU (Festival of Cycling) and nationals, so it was good to put that to use.
“It’s been heaps of fun, it’s been good to have a few hard climbs. We’re heading from here to the Melbourne to Warrnambool now, it will be a different style of race, a bit longer. I think there’s going to be a big game of scissors-paper-rock to see who’s leader,” Richards joked. “I think it will be whoever’s good on the day.”
The men’s race got off to a controlled start with ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast setting a hard tempo to dissuade any attacks with arguably the teammate of the Tour, Angus Lyons, producing another top-tier ride at the front of the main bunch.
After 20 minutes of racing, there was an attack of four riders with Aidan Buttigieg (Nero Continental), Will Golding (Onyva), Sam Eddy (Team Bridgelane) and Daniel Luke (Oliver’s Real Food Racing) jumping clear of the peloton. The quartet only ever enjoyed a slim advantage, with the inexorable Lyons at the head of the peloton, eventually dragging the escapees back into the fold.
A series of small attacks from there were covered and the race look set for a sprint to decide the stage.
Nero Continental tried to take control of the race from a few laps out, but it was Inform and ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine who resumed their battle from the previous stage to deliver Brenton Jones and Cameron Scott, respectively, to the final sprint in perfect position.
Jones took it out early, leading around the final corner, but it was Scott who had the strength to come round the former National Criterium champion to secure his second stage win in two days, a clean sweep at the Tour of Gippsland for the men’s ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast team.
Kane Richards topped the overall podium, winning by 10 seconds over Liam Johnston (Inform TMX Make) with Cyrus Monk (CycleHouse) in third a further seven seconds down.
Johnston also won the Warrragul Crownlea young riders jersey with his performance, while Cameron Scott took out the Simon Anderson Consultants Sprint Classification.
The Findex mountains jersey was won by Nicholas White (Team Bridgelane), a fitting tribute to his superb solo ride on the second stage of the race.
James Whelan (Team Bridgelane) retained the lead in the overall National Road Series standings by virtue of his fourth overall finish combined with his earlier Festival of Cycling victory.
Team Bridgelane also maintained their hold on the teams' standings, their current tally of 757 points, being challenged by ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast's 655 and Inform TMX Make's 562.
The final race of the women’s Under 19s was typical of the entire Tour, an attacking affair that saw a strong group of four get up the road and contest the final sprint, with Belinda Bailey claiming her second win of the Tour. Overall, it was Isabelle Carnes (ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) who triumphed by virtue of her big Stage 1 win, with Bronte Stewart (Sydney Uni-Staminade) second just six seconds behind and Talia Appleton (99 Bikes Women’s Academy) over two minutes behind in third.
The Under 19 men’s race was an aggressive race, with constant surges at the front of the race and small groups and individuals trying their luck off the front. In the end it was a strong sprint from Hamish McKenzie (ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) that saw him take the finish ahead of Oscar Chamberlain (CCS Cycling) and Luke Tuckwell. The overall title went to William Eaves after his successful long-range solo move on Stage 1, with McKenzie second and William Heffernan third.