Alex Frame of Trek-Segafredo & Brad Evans of Mobius BridgeLane have starred in the first two days of racing at the Herald Sun Tour. Alex Frame came within just 1 second of taking the leader’s jersey in the prologue, taking fourth in the mad dash time trial behind JLT Condor’s Ed Clancy. In the first road stage Brad Evans claimed the king of the mountains jersey after being in the breakaway in stage 1.
Clancy wins prologue, Frame 4th against clock
The prologue time trial, over just 1.6km of Melbourne city streets, has a reputation for being fast and furious, and once again it lived up to expectations. Edward Clancy of JLT Condor led the charge for the line, with his time trial performance seeing him cross the line in just 1.54mins; 1 second clear of three riders in Mads Pedersen of Trek-Segafredo, Lasse Norman Hansen of Aqua Blue Sport and Pedersen’s Kiwi teammate Alex Frame.
Time gaps over such a short course were extremely slight, with the top 19 riders separated by just 6 seconds. In the mix along with Frame was Shane Archbold of Aqua Blue Sport who placed 15th on the stage.
Michael Vink of Brisbane Continental Cycling Team was 23rd at 7 seconds, with Brad Evans of Mobius-BridgeLane 31st at 8 seconds. Joseph Cooper of Bennelong SwissWellness Cycling Team was 49th at 10 seconds, Ryan Christensen of Oliver’s Real Food was 53rd at 10 seconds, Alex Ray of Team McDonalds Down Under was 58th at 11 seconds with Hamish Schreurs of Israel Cycling Academy finishing 62nd with the same time. Nick Miller of Team McDonalds Down Under and yellow jersey at this year’s New Zealand Cycle Classic Nicholas Reddish of Oliver’s Real Food were 75th and 76th respectively at 12 and 13 seconds.
Evans shows climbing pedigree from breakaway
On to the first road stage for the Herald Sun Tour and a 161km road race that would take the field to Warrnambool. While a crash upset the rhythm of the early stages of the day, a breakaway group of six riders provided some good Kiwi interest. In the move were Matt Ross of KordaMentha Real Eastate – Australian National Team, Kane Richards of Team McDonalds Downunder, Oliver Martin of Brisbane Continental Cycling Team, Liam Magennis of Drapac EF Cycling, Daniel Whitehouse of InterPro Stradalli and Brad Evans of Mobius BridgeLane.
Evans has been renowned for his fast finishing, which he put to good use in stage 5 of last year’s SBS Bank Tour of Southland, but it was his climbing prowess that was on display today. The only KOM points on offer came after 70km of racing and Evans mopped them up to take the first KOM leader’s jersey of this year’s tour. His breakaway group would build a lead that peaked at 4 minutes before being brought back.
As the stage unfolded the crosswind factor proved to be a real factor. In the final hour the six leaders were fully committed, but so too were the chasing peloton. Strung across the road, it was clear that the wind was up and having a strong effect on the field. Back in the peloton before the crosswind kicked in a crash brought down five riders including Nick Reddish’s teammates Jack Sutton and Benjamin Andrews as well as Alex Frame’s Trek-Segafredo teammate Laurent Didier.
Not only did a crash upset matters, but so too did the furious pace eventually set by the bunch to get back on board with the break. With 10km to go the catch was made, but Evans was able to stay on board, along with Michael Vink, but the group was pretty small, only about 20-30 strong in all. That whittled right down as the kilometres ticked away though and with 4km to go only 10 riders remained at the front of the race.
The leaders were riding with a high level of intensity, not content to play games on the run in to the finish, with the chasing group just about 20 seconds behind. Lasse Norman Hansen of Aqua Blue Sport, Steele von Hoff and Cameron Bayly of Bennelong SwissWellness, Damien Howson and Cameron Meyer of Mitchelton-Scott, Ruben Guerreiro and Koen De Kort of Trek-Segafredo, Jeroen Meijers of Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij and Thomas Stuart of JLT Condor were the riders in the group.
Through 1.3km to go the race was still furious at the front, with a number of attacks from within the front group. It looked like those with numbers in the group were prepared to risk one of their riders in a long range attack attempt. After the final brief rise to the finish a last itch attack went clear with about 800m to go and Lasse Norman Hansen of Aqua Blue Sport hit for home. He gained just enough of a lead to hold off a charging Steele von Hoff and Cameron Meyer and claim the stage, and with it the yellow jersey.
Alex Frame was the first of the Kiwis to cross the line, with Brad Evans and Michael Vink in the same group 23 seconds back from Hansen and co.