Tasmania’s Nathan Earle (Huon Genesys) has claimed victory in the FKG Tour of Toowoomba, the third round in the Subaru National Road Series.
Earle’s win makes it three from three for the Tasmanian based outfit who topped the general classification at both the Tour de Perth and Battle on the Border.
“It’s pretty special to be able to come here and win,” Earle described. “Pat (Shaw) has won it two years previously and I got third in 2010 - I wore the leaders jersey for a day and lost it so that was bit upsetting and I said to myself ‘I want to come back here at some point and win the tour.”
Earle clinched the leaders jersey on stage two of the Darling Downs tour, winning a sprint to the line at the summit of Mount Bunya before the team cemented their lead with a solid performance in the team time trial on Saturday.
“My highlight is definitely the win on Bunya Mountain,” Earle said. “But also the team time trial was pretty special, just to be a part of that and to dominate by more than a minute to the second place was awesome.”
Earle, 24, took out the tour eight seconds ahead of teammate and current Subaru National Road Series leader Jack Haig while teammate Ben Dyball finished third overall, 16 seconds behind.
“The tour went so well for us,” Haig commented. “The first day was pretty hard, Drapac took it to us but we knew we had the best climbers at the tour and we showed that on stage two in Bunya Mountains.”
Current under 23 cross country mountain bike Australian Champion, 19 year old Haig is enjoying being in the NRS leaders jersey in his first year with a professional road cycling team.
“It’s a little bit overwhelming but I’m really enjoying being able to wear a jersey at the tours,” Haig explained. “I’m just looking forward to keeping it for as long as I can and trying to get some exposure and get my name out there.”
The final day’s stage went to Search2Retain sprinter Neil Van der Ploeg who won a bunch sprint ahead of stage four victor Ben Grenda (Polygon Australia) an intod Josh Taylor (GPM Wilson).
“It’s awesome to get the win,” Van der Ploeg exclaimed. “I’ve finished from second place to fifth place numerous times in the NRS so far this year so I was really keen to get a win on the board.”
Van der Ploeg took out the 50 kilometre criterium around Queens Park in the centre of Toowoomba after a last ditch attack by William Walker (Drapac) was shut down inside the final lap.
“I think you’d be a bit of a fool not to be concerned with someone like Will going off the front,” Van der Ploeg said of Walker’s stage one victory. “Luckily we had Angus Tobin there to do a bit of a chase which was just enough in the end and I can’t thank the team enough.”
The McDonalds Women’s Invitation Criterium was staged at Toowoomba this morning and was won convincingly by the current Women ‘s National Road Series leader, Ruth Corset from Pensar SPM Racing.
Emily Roper (Suzuki Bontrager) was second in the event ahead of Kendal Hodges (Jayco Apollo).
Ruth was part of a four rider group that broke away early in the race, and dominated the 30 minutes and three laps event.
“I drove around the course with my parents yesterday and they said there was a hill in it which surprised me, and I said, “What hill?”, but I have to admit the long climb up Margaret Street into a head-wind was certainly a challenge. It ended up being quite a tough course.”
“I attacked early on the downhill, which I don’t normally do, and I looked back and saw they were pretty strung out, so I thought I may as well keep this going.”
Ruth was extremely happy that John Osborne and the Tour of Toowoomba committee had decided to include an Elite Women’s race on the last day. It’s great to be able to race on the same program as the NRS men, and I really hope it gets bigger.”
This sentiment was expressed after the race when the FKG Tour of Toowoomba Race Director praised the support of Mark Ward representing the McDonalds Outlets, who were the major sponsors of the Women’s event.
“It’s not often you get a sponsor who is prepared to commit to a three year venture to grow an event from the grass up. Mark Ward has been a great supporter of the Tour of Toowomba, and now he is branching out into women’s cycling which is the fastest element of the sport in the world” Mr Osborne remarked.
Meanwhile Ruth and her team now head off to the Adelaide Tour in two weeks, a race she is really looking forward to.
“We have a really strong team this year, and there’s a team time trial on offer, which should suit all of us.”
The FKG Tour of Toowoomba concludes this afternoon with the running of Stage 5, the 2.4 kilometre Queen’s Park Criterium.
Nathan Earle (Huon-Genesys) has retained his lead in the FKG Tour of Toowoomba following a dominant performance by the Tasmanian based team on day three of the third round in the Subaru National Road Series.
On a double staged day, Earle was part of a decisive victory by the Huon Salmon Genesys Wealth Advisers outfit in stage three’s team time trial before finishing a respectable 15th in stage four’s road race.
Earle now holds an eight second advantage in the general classification over teammate and current Subaru National Road Series leader Jack Haig, while teammate Ben Dyball is a further 17 seconds behind in third place overall.
“I’m feeling pretty relieved,” Earle described. “It was a really hectic day and we knew it was going to be really hard. I think I have it pretty stitched up as long as everything goes to plan tomorrow,” Earle said of Sunday’s criterium finale.
Stage four’s Greenmount to Glenvale victory went to fellow Tasmanian Ben Grenda (Team Polygon) who showed his strength to win a sprint to the line on the Glenvale criterium course.
Grenda broke away from the field within the final 500 metres, holding off a fast finishing Malcolm Rudolph (Drapac) and Neil Van der Ploeg (Search2Retain).
“Coming down to the last bit on the track there was a big headwind and I thought I might have been run down,” Grenda explained. “But it was great to hold on for the win.”
“I put the boys on the front with about 20 kilometres to go. They are a young team and haven’t done that before, but they really stepped it up,” said Grenda.
In the morning’s stage, it was the time trial specialists of Huon-Genesys who clinched victory by more than a minute to Drapac Cycling and Budget Forklifts.
Huon-Genesys stopped the clock in the 27 kilometre time trial at 34 minutes 12 seconds making them the only team to post a sub 35 minute time.
Drapac Cycling finished their effort in 35min 22sec while Budget Forklifts - a man down after noted climber Michael Cupitt pulled out of the tour due to a concussion - narrowly made the podium with 35min 34sec.
Haig, 19 said the team plan was to have all six riders cross the finish together.
“The team wanted to try and finish with all the riders we had,” Haig described. “Joe and Aaron did some really big turns as well as Ben Dyball and I tried to do my bit as well, everyone was chipping in.”
The Tour of Toowoomba will conclude with a 21 lap criterium around Queens Park in the city of Toowoomba.
The 2013 FKG Tour of Toowoomba will conclude on Sunday 12 May.
The 2013 Subaru NRS will feature 17 individual events across Australia, including six combined men’s and women’s events, and a total of 77 days of racing.
For more photos from today's race, contact Mark Gunter at markgunter.com.au
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When it comes to being a Huon-Genesys fan, I think I’m pretty well qualified.
Afterall I born in Tassie, swam in the Derwent in the middle of Winter, and can tell you Eric Reece’s middle name.
So it was with a heightened degree of enthusiasm that I rolled up to yesterday’s two stages of the FKG Tour of Toowoomba, even though I’ve always thought that time trials were as boring as watching grass grow, and have never really liked a one horse race.
Being one of the world’s greatest sporting journalists, I should have taken time to read the Event Manuel, as the Time Trial yesterday morning was run in reverse order, fastest to slowest, so muggins me arrived halfway through the stage, and completely missed the top teams!!
All I can say is thank goodness for Lucy Hinchey’s excellent race reports, as without these I would have been forced to produce a load of garbage, which is not too far removed from what you are receiving now!
Well, I guess things could only get better, but they didn’t!
The afternoon stage race from Greenmount to Glenvale Criterium Circuit looked pretty straight forward. One big loop out to Talgai and a return via Felton East.
I decided to take back road to Clifton to use the KOM on O’Leary Road as my only photo opportunity, and when my GPS started to struggle and panic was setting in, I decided to ask a couple of “locals” for direction.
Worst thing I could ever have done!
Over and hour later I was still searching for the KOM, completely lost, and about to commit harikari (spelling was never one of my strengths).
I nervously sort help from another local, who generously guided me to the stage race course, with the peleton long gone, or so I thought.
Onto the Toowoomba-Karara Road I then encountered a religious experience on par to Mary’s immaculate conception and Holy Spirit winning a hurdle race at Caulfield back in 1970s… the sight of the Sag Wagon and a small group of riders beating their way towards Glenvale.
As the peleton and the following convey came into view, I shook my head in disbelief.
The prospect of actually beating the race into Glenvale and being on the finish line to capture an award winning image of Ben Grenda was now a reality, although I still had to face one last test of judgment at Wyreema.
Faced with my GPS indicating a “turn left in 170 metres” or following the peleton a little further, I decided to turn left!!
Once again, miraculously, I suddenly found myself in front of the lead car. I was on a roll!!
I was finally venturing where I never thought I would be, and it felt good.
At Glenvale I was way in time to see Grenda lead home Malcolm Rudolph and Neil van der Ploeg, and I thought that deserved an extra bottle of chardonnay back at the Park Motor Inn and a “medal of honour” from the FKG Tour of Toowoomba organisers…. Well. I guess I can only dream.
All images copyright Peter Ford (CSN)
Time trial specialists Huon-Genesys have taken out the stage three team's time trial at the FKG Tour of Toowoomba, the third round in the Subaru National Road Series.
The Tasmanian based team claimed victory in the stage by more than a minute to Drapac Cycling and Budget Forklifts.
Drapac Cycling finished their effort in 35min 22sec while Budget
Forklifts, a man down after noted climber Michael Cupitt pulled out of the tour due to a concussion, narrowly made the podium with 35min 34sec.
The has put Nathan Earle five seconds ahead of teammate Jack Haig in the general classification standings before this afternoon's 113 kilometre road race while teammates Ben Dyball and Jai Crawford hold positions three and four in the standings.
Current Subaru National Road Series leader Jack Haig, 19 said the team plan was to have all six riders cross the finish together.
Other images from today's team time trial, copyright Peter Ford (CSN):
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