The Tour of Bright took place over the weekend with three exciting stages including a short, sharp stage to Mount Hotham. The tour wrapped up on Sunday afternoon which also brought a close to the 2018 VRS season. A very successful VRS season at that for InForm MAKE, who finished at the top of the standings in the team’s classification as well as the individual classification with Raphael Freienstein.
Added to the incredible success of the VRS season, InForm MAKE also chalked up the Individual NRS crown, and were second on the NRS team’s classification to cap off a stellar 2018.
“To be crowned the best team in Victoria is something I’m really proud of the boys for. Their consistency shows a lot of professionalism to maintain this level across all VRS & NRS races. A special mention must go to Raph for winning both series, I don’t think I’ve seen that done before,” Team manager Pat Lane said.
With both Individual and Teams VRS classifications already secured before the depart in Bright, it was a great opportunity for some of the younger riders in Carter Turnbull and Tom Jones to take their chance. Alas, before the race began, Jones was being taken away in an ambulance after a crash during a reconnaissance of the time trial course.
“Unfortunately, we lost Tom Jones due to a crash before the start of the tour, he suffered some nasty facial injuries so he couldn’t compete. This left us with just four riders to compete in the tour. I’m sure we will see TJ bounce back for a great Nationals at the start of January,” Lane said.
The final VRS race of the season started with a 13.5 kilometre time trial. In favourable conditions, it was a fast out and back time trial, with the profile providing no great obstacles, it was a hot average speed for stage winner Jordan Villani who crossed the line with an average speed of 47.7km/h. InForm MAKE’s Raphael Freienstein and Carter Turnbull were fifth and sixth on the day, setting up a good foundation for the remaining two stages.
Stage 2 was 131 kilometers and tackled the loop known as “Gaps Loop”. A three rider break away provided the action for the early parts of the stage and had built up a sizeable five minute advantage to the peloton. InForm MAKE’s Tom McFarlane put in a massive effort to cut down the deficit to the breakaway until the base of Mount Beauty. Here is where the race really kicked off with the tempo in the peloton being cranked up further as the race went on.
The ferocious tempo in the peloton meant the end for the breakaway, whose gap had been slashed to just one minute when the riders arrived at the base of the final climb up Tawonga. The scene was set for the climbers to shine in a baking hot 33 degrees on the finishing seven kilometre climb. Freienstein and Turnbull lost contact with the front group in the earlier stages of the climb but managed to limit their losses to finish 11th and 16th on the stage.
Stage 3 was a 58 kilometre stage finishing at the ski village of Mount Hotham. Typical alpine conditions created discussion on whether the stage would go ahead or not, but by the scheduled start time, the wild conditions had subsided and stage 3 was set for a start. An early break of ten riders got away immediately with Freienstein making an unsuccessful effort to bridge across to the leaders. With only 26 kilometres of racing before the climb started, the escapees were never really let off the leash by the peloton. Ten kilometres into the climb to Hotham, Spirit of Tasmania Cycling Tour winner Dylan Sunderland jumped across to the break, then left all but one rider in his wake. Sunderland distanced Matt Ross in the last five kilometres to take a solo victory. Freienstein and Turnbull were eighth and 13th on the stage respectively. On the general classification, Freienstein was fifth and Turnbull was an impressive ninth.
Turnbull’s ninth on GC provides reassurance for his transition into the under 23 ranks next season, it also shows that he can be competitive at the National Championships in January.
“Getting this result helped reassure me that I’m heading in the right direction. I’m moving into the u23s next year so it’s nice to know I can be around the mark with guys who are a few years older than me,” Turnbull said.
A strong climber and time trialist, Turnbull will be looking to roll a few heads come crunch time in Buninyong, with this week being a big stepping stone towards road nationals.
“I went up to Bright a week early for a hard block of training which included racing the tour, all in preparation for nationals next month.”
Although there were no big results to write home about at Bright, Lane took some huge positives out of the weekend regarding some of the younger riders looking towards 2019.
‘’With the 2019 season so close it was great to see some awesome performances from the young riders who will be joining us next year. Pat Eddy’s TT win in B grade would have placed him tenth in A grade, for a under 17 rider I think this shows we will see a lot from him in the coming years. Rudy Porter also had a great start to the tour with tenth in the TT before crashing out.”
All racing focus now turns to Buninyong for the Cycling Australian Road nationals, only one month away.