Victory for Bennelong SwissWellness Cycling Team was on the cards for the final day of the Herald Sun Tour courtesy of Sam Crome. The Australian took the final day’s honours ahead of Cameron Meyer and Ruben Geurreiro with Esteban Chaves doing enough to secure the GC win and form part of a Mitchelton-Scott clean sweep.
Heading into the final day’s stage there was plenty to play for and the battlefield would be a tough one. The 152.1km final stage, starting and finishing in Kinglake, took in a circuit to be navigated five times in all, with each one finishing with an uphill climb in a stage that contained barely any flat roads to speak of.
Brad Evans of Mobius-BridgeLane was under pressure to secure the KOM jersey. That would depend largely on how things would pan out against Nathan Earle of the Israel Cycling Academy. Initially it looked like advantage Earle, as he made his way into the break alongside Mads Pedersen of Trek-Segafredo, Calvin Watson of Aqua Blue Sport and Drapac EF Cycling’s Cyrus Monk. But together with Angus Lyons, Evans made a big effort to bridge across to the leaders and keep his chances of KOM glory alive.
The break’s lead went as high as around the 2 minute mark but in the battle for the polka dot jersey it was Earle who would finally prove victorious, triumphing by ten points over Michael Vink of Brisbane Continental Cycling Team, with Evans third overall a further 4 points back. The breakaway were predictably caught by a Mitchelton-Scott-led peloton but after the catch had been made 7km from the finish, that proved the ignition for a flurry of attacks.
Nothing could ultimately prevail though and in the end it was a bunch sprint that would decide matters between 17 riders. In the end Meyer led out the sprint with Guerreiro on third wheel, but Sam Crome was between them and he timed his sprint perfectly to launch off of Meyer’s wheel and the biggest win of his career to date.
Alex Frame of Trek-Segafredo was the first Kiwi home, just a few seconds ahead of Shane Archbold of Aqua Blue Sport, with Michael Vink of Brisbane Continental Cycling Team and Ryan Christensen of Oliver’s Real Food following behind.
Overall Michael Vink ended the tour as the highest placed Kiwi as his consistency was rewarded with 18th place overall, 4.39mins behind race winner Chaves. Ryan Christensen ended his tour with a solid 21st overall with Nick Miller completing the top 30.