Tour of the Great South Coast Australia
After six days and eight stages totalling 541.2 kilometres, Victoria's Kelland O'Brien (Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) clinched the overall victory at the Visit Victoria-Campolina Tour of the Great South Coast.
Photos - Credit Jean-Pierre Ronco
Dominating from the opening stage, the Australian Cycling Team world champion ladened Pro Racing Sunshine Coast outfit showed they were all business as they took a clean sweep of the podium in the opening stage.
Sam Welsford pushed teammate O’Brien for the overall Tour victory after featuring in six podiums and picking up two stage wins by the time the tour reached the penultimate Stage 7. Unfortunately for the dual 2019 world champion, a loss of some 32 seconds to O'Brien on the prior Stage 7 around Bridgewater meant he also conceded the leader's jersey to the Victorian with one stage to go.
“I didn’t expect to win the tour when I arrived, but I bought some good form home from Europe," said the team pursuit world record holder and world champion after winning his maiden National Road Series Tour. "Now I will have a rest and continue my training towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games”.
South Australian youngster Jarrad Drizners (InForm TM Insight MAKE) won the Tour's Rising Star Award and took over the lead in the Cycling Australia National Road Series individual standings.
The closing stage, a 48km criterium around Portland, looked to favour O’Brien, but some untimely rain made the circuit very slick and dangerous for the entire peloton. Though O'Brien was in the leader's jersey, he wasn't home yet. Stage 8 promised an exciting finale to the tour with 30 bonus seconds for the intermediate sprints on offer.
The ever-dangerous and opportunistic Raphael Freinenstein (InForm TM Insight MAKE) was laying in wait. Notorious for being an extraordinarily smart rider, Freinenstein struck early as he looked to upset Pro Racing Sunshine Coast’s victory celebrations.
Chipping away at O'Brien's lead throughout the day; Pro Racing Sunshine Coast kept throwing bodies forward in an attempt to minimize any losses.
Just when it looked like they had done enough, drama struck midway through the final lap, as the circuits lack of grip took another victim, with O’Brien hitting the tarmac and with it, this GC lead looked to be slipping away. However, he swiftly remounted his bike and powered back towards the bunch in a measured and professional manner that allowed him to hold onto the GC by 17 seconds.
At the pointy end of the race, Conor Murtagh (Oliver's Real Food Racing) had tried to emulate his success from the day prior; attacking from long range with ten kilometres to go.
Conor bravely held off the peloton until the closing corners of the bell lap as Tristan Ward (Team BridgeLane) launched a perfectly-timed sprint roughly 300 meters from the line. Coming around the final turn, Tristan held fast and ground out a sensational win as the bunch could only chase his back wheel.
Following his stage win, Tristan exclaimed “I don’t pack the punch sprint of some of these guys, but my long sprint is alright. So, I decided to take off and hoped to hang on. It was a great way to get my first stage win on this tour”.
Visit Victoria-Campolina Tour of the Great South Coast Stage Winners
- Stage 1 – Sam Welsford (Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) wows in the opening stage taking a lightning-fast criterium. >>> WATCH
- Stage 2 – Rylee Field (GPM-Stulz) won Stage 2, a 10-lap ride of a 6.5km circuit around Blue Lake in Mount Gambier >>> WATCH
- Stage 3 – Sam Welsford (Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) wins on Wednesday in the 128.5km road stage in Port MacDonnell. >>> WATCH
- Stage 4 – A chaotic finish to stage 4 sees Cameron Scott (Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) take the win. >>> WATCH
- Stage 5 Team Time Trial – InForm TM Insight MAKE took the honours.
- Stage 6 Jesse Coyle (Team Nero Bianchi‘s) runs away with a phenomenal stage win. >>> WATCH
- Stage 7 The green machine Conor Murtagh (Oliver's Real Food Racing) announces his return in style. >>> WATCH
- Stage 8 Tristan Ward (Team Bridgelane) outsprints the bunch on a very slick circuit which saw Kell O’Brien and his GC hopes almost slip out of his hands. >>> WATCH
Results - www.nationalroadseries.com/results