Well what can you say? The boys gave it everything this week, right until the finish on the final stage in Devonport they tried to upset the apple cart and gain time but it wasn’t to be. Ben Dyball’s ride up Poatina was simply too good and on the day we had no answer. Ben rode with us for four years so we know what he can do and we were worried about him but we thought that with 1:04 in hand at the start of the queen stage it would be enough….we were wrong!
The tour started with the 650m uphill prologue in Launceston. Anthony Giacoppo was widely tipped as one to beat and he didn’t disappoint taking the win by the barest of margins over Cameron Ivy (GPM) and Peter Livingston (Mobius).
The first road stage of the tour started in George Town and finished at the Grindlewald Village. At a relatively short 115km this stage has seen some significant time gaps created on the final climb before the finishing circuit but it was largely expected to be a reduced bunch kick. The days break was caught at the base of the climb which meant the peloton were racing for the win. AJ didn’t let us down and took his second stage in a row with a convincing win over Dan Fitter (SOB) and Bernie Sulzberger (TIS).
Stage two saw the teams travel to Devonport for the infamous Gunns Plains stage. Despite it always being a relatively short stage the incredibly steep climb up Gunns Plains always ensures big time gaps. This year the weather also played a part with a really strong North Westerly making life tough. The usual plan of ripping the race to pieces on the climb was thrown out this year with ACJ deciding to only ride the climb at a tempo that allowed the whole team to get to the top. This meant that the group that was left at the top was far bigger than usual but that was when things changed. As soon as they crested the whole team went to the front and put the race in the gutter. The strong Nor-Wester came into play and in no time the front group was down to only 11 riders with six of them ours.
Coming into Penguin Chris Harper from Swiss Wellness attacked and was immediately covered by Chris Hamilton who easily took the win with Harper second and AJ third. As a result Hamo took the leaders jersey from AJ with a margin of just 1 second.
Stage three was “D Day”. The feared Poatina climb loomed at the end of what was an otherwise flat stage. The 20km climb was last used in the 2008 Tour of Tasmania where then team member Richie Porte put everyone to the sword and won the tour. We were pretty confident but knew there were danger men in guys like Ben Dyball, Chris Harper and Dylan Sunderland.
The team did a great job bringing the days break back at the start of the climb to give Hamo the best chance of defending yellow. Dyball attacked at the start of the climb proper with Robbie Hucker immediately taking responsibility by riding the front. Hamo attempted to jump across to Dyball but didn’t quite get there and had to settle in to TT mode and try and keep him in sight.
Angus Lyons (VIS), Sunderland (SOB) and Harper (SWC) joined Hamo and that was basically the race. Dyball was ultra impressive and extended away in the later stages to record a great victory winning by 1:27 over Lyons in second and Sunderland in 3rd.
Despite going into the last stage trailing by 41 seconds the boys still believed they could win the tour. The circuit was definitely tough enough and if the wind had played the game maybe they were a chance. They threw everything they had at Dyball and looked like they had him on the ropes on a couple of occasions but a fall that saw Joe, Hamo and Jason all come down effectively ended any chance of an upset.
Still a great tour for the team with second overall, three super impressive victories out of the five stages, the team’s classification and the sprint jersey.