The “queen stage” of this year’s Spirit of Tasmania Cycling Tour didn’t disappoint with a big shake up at the top of the general classification. The riders battled the wind and the rain as they made their way to the alpine like conditions at the finish line, 1200 meters above sea level.
The riders set off from Longford with just 71.5 kilometres on the agenda with the leader’s yellow jersey resting on the shoulders of InForm MAKE rider Raphael Freienstein. With open plains and a moderate north westerly breeze, it was a nervous peloton that made their way through the narrow roads of Northern Tasmania.
Tail and tail-cross winds meant a fast start and no significant breakaways managed to survive. The race threatened to split into pieces at times with winds forcing some riders to lose contact from the InForm MAKE controlled peloton. Tom Benton and Stuart Smith were doing the lion share of the police work keeping the pace high and keeping the yellow jersey safe at the front of the race.
Not unlike yesterday, David Williams found himself deep in the action when it came to the intermediate sprints at both 25.7 kilometres and 50.9 kilometres. The young Victorian picked up four from a possible six points to move himself into the sprint jersey lead heading into stage 3 over Gunns Plains tomorrow.
“It’s awesome, it’s my first NRS jersey so I’m really happy with that,” Williams said.
With the intermediate sprints in the books, the peloton charged towards the bottom of the Poatina climb with the summit nowhere to be seen through the low-lying clouds. The rain began to fall heavily with 16 kilometres to go and so did the hammer, with riders being ejected out the back of the peloton under the pressure of the tempo being set. Bennelong SwissWellness, mobius BridgeLane and InForm MAKE all contributed to the piping hot pace at the front of the peloton.
With ten kilometres to go the race was in pieces and two main groups had formed at the head of the race. Yellow jersey, Raphael Freienstein was tacked on the back of a group of eight riders and Carter Turnbull found himself in the second group on the road with another eight riders.
The screws were turned tighter as the climb went on and with four kilometres to go the yellow jersey was distanced. Freienstein called upon his experience and rode within himself to limit the damage to just 40 seconds at the finish line to stage winner, New Zealand rider, Michael Vink (BCT). Yesterday’s stage winner Dylan Sunderland (BSC) was second and he now moves into the leader’s yellow jersey by five seconds over Vink.
“I just rode my own speed, I didn’t go with them when they increased the pace with five kilometres to go, I didn’t want to completely blow up… I’m still in this race and there are two stages still to go,” Freienstein said at the finish line.
Carter Turnbull and Rudy Porter both finished inside the top 20 after finding their rhythms after a searing start to the climb.
“There were allot of crosswinds coming into the climb and it was just about fighting for position. Up the climb it was a really hot tempo,” Porter said.
“I felt really good, I tried to stay within my limits but blew up a little bit in the last three kilometres,” Turnbull said directly after the finish.
Tomorrow sees the riders tackle the infamous Gunns Plains stage where the climbers will be out in force again. At only 71.5 kilometres from Ulverstone to Riana, stage 3 is another short stage but the rolling terrain will take the edge off many of the riders before the final climb. The steep, three-kilometre climb tops out with 11.3 kilometres from the finish and acts as the perfect launching pad for those chasing stage honours.
“It’s a brutal day, it’s always hard, its lumpy and the roads are pretty dead. I think we will see a pretty select group go over the top of Gunns Plains and we will have a small bunch sprint in Riana,” InForm MAKE team manager Pat Lane said.
2018 Spirit of Tasmania Cycling Tour Stage 2 results
1st - Michael Vink (BCT) 1h51:10
2nd - Dylan Sunderland (BSC) +1
3rd - Cameron Roberts (GPM) +4
6th - Raphael Freienstein (InForm MAKE) +40
General Classification after stage 2
1st - Dylan Sunderland (BSC) 4h46:49
2nd - Michael Vink (BCT) +5
3rd - Cameron Roberts (GPM) +13
5th - Raphael Freienstein (InForm MAKE) +38