Dion Smith has led the charge for the Kiwis in stage 1 of the Herald Sun Tour. The new signing for Mitchelton-SCOTT finished 7th in the opener on Philip Island as compatriot Tom Scully finished 8th after protecting stage winner Dan McLay of EF Education First Pro Cycling.
New Zealand’s favourite Aussie, Robert Stannard of Mitchelton-SCOTT, placed 5th across the line as McLay edged Kristoffer Halvorsen of Team Sky and EvoPro Racing’s Wouter Wippert for stage honours.
The course was identical to the women with 97.9km of racing entirely over 22 laps of the short 4.45km loop on Philip Island. The race saw three riders go out on the attack with Ayden Toovey of Team BridgeLane partnering EF Education First Pro Cycling’s James Whelan and Team Sky’s Christian Knees in the day’s breakaway.
Toovey was the most intent on making the break stick, with the latter two called back to their teams in the peloton; and Toovey’s persistence alone eventually earned him a little more company in the form of Oliver’s Real Food Racing’s Karl Michelin-Beard and Futuro Maxxis’ Dylan Newbery. Their lead built to 2.20mins before Trek-Segafredo – with Riche Porte present – began to reel them back in.
Michelin-Beard was the last man standing but EvoPro Racing – featuring Luke Mudgway, Daniel Whitehouse, Shane Archbold and Aaron Gate – and Mitchelton-SCOTT – with Sam Bewley, Dion Smith and Robert Stannard – led the charge on the last lap; bringing the whole peloton back together again. Despite a few more skirmishes it came down to a sprint finish where New Zealand-born Brit Dan McLay just edged Kristoffer Halvorsen of Team Sky for stage honours with Wouter Wipper of EvoPro Racing third.
New Zealand’s favourite Aussie – Robert Stannard – came home 5th with Dion Smith and Tom Scully 7th and 8th respectively.
Photos: Con Chronis