Stage 1 of the Spirit of Tasmania Cycling Tour set off from George Town to finish at the Swiss inspired town of Grindelwald. At 115.9km, todays stage was the longest of the tour, but it didn’t pose any great difficulties to the riders until the final five kilometres.
The attacks to establish the break of the day started at the drop of the flag with InForm MAKE being represented in all the key moves. After 15 kilometres of reshuffling the deck, the major breakaway of the day was formed. It was however kept on a tight leash by tour leader Cameron Ivory and his GPM teammates.
Included in the breakaway of five riders was Launceston local Oliver Martin (BCT) and InForm MAKE 18-year-old David Williams. The presence of Williams in the breakaway allowed the rest of the InForm MAKE squad to take a back seat, keep there team leader Raphael Freienstein safe and prepare for the final ascent to Grindelwald. Williams, in the meantime was busy at the head of the race pushing the pace and picking up intermediate sprint points at the two sprints on offer. By days end, he found himself equal first in the race for the sprint jersey.
“It was brutal, it was really solid, five of us just chopping off all day,” Williams said.
“I was happy to do my bit for the team. I’ll rest up now and get ready to do the same again tomorrow.”
As the peloton began to ramp up the pace along the Tamar river in the last 20 kilometres, it meant the end of the line for the early escapees. With the breakaway reeled in, InForm MAKE took control of the rampaging peloton as they approached the tricky right hand turn for the final five kilometre rise to Grindelwald. Tom Benton headed up the charge in the kilometres approaching the decisive moment of the stage, putting Freienstein at the front of the peloton as stage 1 reached its climax.
The stage was set for a rider to take the bull by the horns and go for broke, but the key men decided to play the waiting game and keep their powder dry for an assault at Poatina tomorrow. Attacks were thrown down by various teams but ultimately yielded no fruit. Freienstein crested the summit first and in doing so picked up seven KOM points and valuable time bonuses.
The rolling final three kilometres saw Bennelong SwissWellness take control for their sprinter Tristan ward who had scrambled over the climb with 30 other riders. At the line, it was one of Ward’s lead-out men, Dylan Sunderland, who took the win among some late confusion within lead-out formation. Ryan Thomas (BCT) was second with InForm MAKE rider Raphael Freienstein making it two thirds in as many days.
“Another third is good, it keeps me hungry for that stage win. Dave (Williams) was super in the break today and (Tom) Benton was great in leading us into the climb as we had planned,” Freienstein said.
Team manager Pat Lane also had praises for his rider’s efforts today.
“I was excited to see Dave Williams up the road all day and for Rudy Porter and Carter Turnbull to climb in the front group with Raph (Freienstein) was great, and to have three guys there puts us in a great position.”
The time bonuses picked up at the final KOM and at the finish line was enough to see the National Road Series leader, Freienstein, leapfrog Cameron Ivory and move into the leader’s yellow jersey by a singular second heading into tomorrow’s stage.
Tomorrow sees the riders tackle the “queen stage” of this year’s Spirt of Tasmania Cycling Tour. The stage length at only 71.5k won’t be a problem for the peloton, but the finishing 17 kilometre climb to the Island State’s central plateau will. The Poatina climb creates a platform for the genuine climbers to make their mark on the race.
“I’ve never ridden Poatina so I have nothing to fear. I’m quite confident, I felt really good today and I have a nice lead over the other climbers heading into the stage,” Freienstein said.
InForm MAKE are now in a super position heading into tomorrows stage but know that Poatina looms as a major obstacle.
“I think it will be all together at the base of Poatina. We will do our best to give Turnbull, Porter and Freienstein the best chance to succeed on the climb,” Lane said.
2018 Spirit of Tasmania Cycling Tour Stage 1 Results
1st – Dylan Sunderland (BSC) 2h45:06
2nd – Ryan Thomas (BCT) +2
3rd – Raphael Freienstein (InForm MAKE) +2
General Classification after Stage 1
1st - Raphael Freienstein (InForm MAKE) 2h55:37
2nd – Cameron Ivory (GPM) +1
3rd – Tristan Ward (BSC) +4