Today’s stage four of the 2011 Jayco Herald Sun Tour promised much with some pretty solid views about the likely outcome but whilst it certainly delivered plenty, it panned out in a way that few expected.
A Russian Tour de France rider not mentioned amongst the day’s favourites won the 131.6km Searoad Ferries stage from Sorrento to Arthurs Seat whilst an Aussie lad full of dreams stole the yellow jersey in the biggest day of his cycling life.
Nathan Haas came to take part in what he describes as his Genesys Wealth Advisers team’s most important race of the year, with his eyes firmly on the best under-23 rider crown but he now sits on the precipice of achieving something far greater.
Following today’s super effort he not only wears the Jayco Yellow Jersey for the leader on general classification but he also has ten seconds insurance over Garmin Cervelo’s Australian road champion Jack Bobridge heading into tomorrow’s final stage on Lygon Street. SaxoBank-Sungard’s Jonas Jorgensen is third at 29 seconds but looks out of contention for the top honour.
The stage was won by Katusha’s Igor Silin, a former under 23 world championships bronze medallist, who left it until the final two kilometres of the last of three climbs up to Arthurs Seat to stake his claim for victory.
The 23-year-old was in the end a relatively easy victor by 16 seconds over the jousting Haas and Bobridge, both 22, who filled the minor placings. But already 10 minutes behind the leaders at the start of the day, Silin’s success had no real impact on the overall standings.
“I am very happy. This is my first professional stage victory,” Silin said.
“The finish was very nice for me as I climbed very well. I thank my team - they did a very good job.”
The real interest though was in what was happening just behind him. Once the two found themselves alone, Haas possessed a major advantage over his to date more decorated Australian rival.
Having started the day eight seconds in front of Bobridge, he knew that he only had to stick with him to take yellow - given that overnight leader Rhys Pollock (Drapac Cycling) was around a minute behind them back down the road.
In a desperate struggle Haas prevailed – gaining a precious two extra bonus seconds over his rival.
Haas could not have been happier, proud for what he had he achieved for the team he clearly regards so highly and to have been able to do so in front of his family, who he confessed had never seen him in a bike race before. They were going to make the most of the day regardless, someone even producing a catchy banner, proclaiming their boy, “The Haasinator”.
“It feels pretty awesome. To be honest I’m trying to just stay pragmatic about it because there’s still another stage tomorrow so it’s not finished yet,” Haas said.
“Tomorrow it’s crits and I really love crits. It’s something that we do a lot in the National Road Series so I feel as if I’m not handicapped at all. My team’s going to be looking after me as well.
“Whatever happens tomorrow I feel as though I’ve come away with a good win inside. It feels really good because I’m starting to realise one of my goals and some of the things I’ve sacrificed to be able to do this. It’s really nice to have something big like this happen.”
Haas revealed a long time admiration for the man he will again face tomorrow in the race to become the 59th winner of Australia’s oldest stage race.
“To come up against someone like Bobridge who I’ve admired since I was a junior, it’s just a dream and I still can’t believe it’s happening,” Haas said.
He also told of the advice he had from another rider whose career was launched through the Genesys program.
“I spoke to my mate Richie Porte before the race - after the Tour of Tassie and he sent me a good message just saying, - you’ve got to trust that you are as good as these guys because they’re not supermen,” he said.
“He said, your best at any time is often enough. I came into this race really trusting his words and on the first day I really backed myself and gave myself the opportunity to do it.”
There were other battles to be played out today with Haas coming out on top of two of those as well.
In finishing second, Haas again accumulated sprint points to maintain a lead in the race for the Honda Green Sprinters Jersey. The four point margin remains the same but is now held over Stijn van den Bergh (Katusha) who was again part of a breakaway today and picked up five intermediate points in the process.
It seemed that in van den Bergh’s mind it perhaps should have been six as he found himself in an unanticipated contest with fellow breakaway, Patrick Shaw (Genesys) in the first of the two sprints - at Merricks. There appeared to be a better understanding from Shaw at the second, just past Flinders, where he allowed the Belgian to take it without contention.
For the second day in a row, van den Bergh was also acknowledged as the most appropriate recipient for the Cycle in Greater Shepparton Orange Jersey.
Haas naturally also retained the State Government Victoria White Jersey for his originally intended target of the best under 23 rider on the Tour.
The contest for the Budget Forklifts Polka Dot King of the Mountains Jersey was effectively decided today with maximum 24-16-8 points available for each of the first two climbs up Arthurs Seat, both classified as category one.
V Australia’s Cameron Peterson despite beginning the day with no points at all finished third on the first climb and won the second, to take over the jersey from Jelly Belly’s Nic Hamilton by six points. Peterson only has to finish tomorrow’s final stage to claim the title, as there are no climber points on offer.
John Anderson (Mitchelton Australia National Team) was again an escapee, joining van den Bergh, Peterson, Shaw and PureBlack’s Glen Chadwick down the road for more than 80 kilometres, with the lonely figure of Budget Forklifts’ Peter Herzig a solo rider some minutes and half behind them for much of that time.
It now all comes down to tomorrow’s final stage – a 15 lap race of a 4.1km circuit based on Carlton’s Lygon Street starting at 3.15pm. There are 3, 2 and 1 bonus seconds available for the two intermediate sprints at the end of laps five and ten, with 10, 6 and 4 for the final sprint.
Haas with the assistance of his team has the task of ensuring he stays with the main pack, without allowing any breakaway involving his main opponent. Blocking any efforts by Bobridge to pick up bonus seconds will be handy.
Bobridge and co have the slightly tougher task – to in some way bridge that ten second gap.
Searoad Ferries Stage 4: Sorrento - Arthurs Seat (131km)
Jayco General Classification
Jonas AEN JORGENSEN
Reinardt JANSE VAN RENSBURG
Koen DE KORT
Victoria’s Best Under-23 Rider
Honda Sprint Points Classification
Stijn VAN DEN BERGH
Steele VON HOFF
Budget Forklifts King of the Mountains
For full results, click here.
The 2011 Jayco Herald Sun Tour is presented by Jayco and the Herald Sun, along with the continued support from the Victorian Government. The 59th edition to be held from Wednesday 12 to Sunday 16 October, will visit Whittlesea, Ballarat, Geelong and the Mornington Peninsula before the final stage circuit race on Lygon Street in Melbourne.
Further information is available at www.jaycoheraldsuntour.com.au.
2011 Jayco Herald Sun Tour – REMAINING STAGES
Stage 5: Sunday 16 Oct
City Circuit, Lygon Street
4.1km circuit (3:15pm to approx 4:45pm)