Avanti Racing Team finished with two riders in the top 10 on Stage 4 of the 2014 Tour of Tasmania from Ulverstone to Penguin.
Mitchell Lovelock-Fay and Joe Cooper crossed the line with the leading group, taking out 8th and 10th positions respectively, while Joe and Avanti teammate Ben Dyball remain in 5th and 2nd places on the general classification.
The day began with a series of unsuccessful attacks through undulating terrain leading up to the first sprint point, where Patrick Bevin [Search2Retain] picked up two bonus seconds to slip ahead of race leader Ben Dyball. It wasn’t until the second sprint of the day that a breakaway including Avanti Racing’s Mark Tupalski finally went clear, but his time out the front was short-lived.
“A little breakaway went away that had Mark from our team in there,” explained Avanti’s Mark O’Brien. “Unfortunately he was just feeling it a bit and got tailed off.”
With Bevin now sitting in virtual yellow, it was up to Avanti to control the peloton and try to limit Bevin’s gains.
“We had a game plan coming through the valley, heading to Gunns Plains – we were going to just ride it as hard as we could with Taylor [Gunman] and Chris [Hamilton], and they did an amazing job holding us in a position at the base and basically lining it out,” Mark said. “Then up the climb Mitch [Lovelock-Fay]and I took it up to try to get rid of Pat Bevin, which we managed to do, and then over the top it was Ben and myself trying to hold them off.
“Joe and Mitch came back across, so we had four guys trying to ride, but unfortunately Paddy was just too good and got back on.”
With Bevin still keeping up with the leaders, the team changed strategies and began launching attacks to try and take the stage finish time bonuses to prevent the New Zealander from increasing his lead. As each successive attack was reeled in, it soon became evident that a bunch sprint was on the cards, and Bevin got up from the lead group for the win.
“[It] means he’s taken the [overall] lead, but it happens and there’s another day tomorrow to give it another crack,” Mark said. “I think there was a real good shot today with Gunn’s Plains and we had to try to test him out, and we did manage to put him in the red a little bit.”
With two stages remaining in this year’s race, Ben Dyball sits just 11 seconds down on Bevin, with Joe Cooper rounding out the top five.
“It’s going to be hard to win here, ‘cause Pat’s obviously quicker than Ben,” Mark acknowledged, “but we’ll throw everything at them and just use our strength in numbers – we’ve got a really strong climbing team here – and hopefully put them under pressure.
“If the opportunity opens then we’ll take it.”