Jones strikes in Crit, Lapthorne claims Road Race
Drapac’s Darren Lapthorne has claimed the yellow leader’s jersey after taking out stage four's 94.2km road race on day two in the Budget Forklifts Tour of the Great South Coast, the fifth event in the Subaru National Road Series.
Lapthorne rode solo to the hilltop finish in Casterton, propelling him to the general classification lead – 11 seconds over Anthony Giacoppo (Genesys Wealth), second, and 18 seconds ahead of Search2Retain's Neil van der Ploeg, third.
“I'm not a bad crit rider but I can't compare to the pure sprinters, so the road stages are my only opportunity,” said Lapthorne after his win.
“I know I will probably lose [the leader’s jersey] tomorrow in the next criterium but as long as I can keep within striking distance for the last stage, that's the day I want to take yellow,” Lapthorne said of his tactics heading into the remainder of the tour.
The 29-year-old broke away from the lead bunch inside the final few kilometers to take
line honours over teammate Robbie Hucker, second, and Jack Beckinsale (Croydon Cycle Works), third.
Although the Bendigo rider believes he has the best climbing legs in the field, he says it was thoughts of William Walker’s retirement yesterday due to a reoccurring heart condition — and memories of his late teammate Robbie Williams, who died unexpectedly on August 14 during a training ride — that drove him to the line.
“I backed myself and I really wanted to do it for my teammate Will Walker and I was thinking about Robbie Williams as well. I wasn't that close to Robbie but I did ride with him for a year, he was a really genuine and friendly guy and it's so cruel what’s happened to him.
“The last couple of kilometres I was thinking about him and I think it gave me that little bit of strength to get me across the line,” Lapthorne said.
In what was another wet and windy day on the south west Victorian coast, the road race saw the first real hills of the tour with eight King of the Mountain bonuses up for grabs. Current Tour of the Great South Coast KOM jersey holder Ben Hill (RBS Morgans) took out all but one after dropping from the bunch in the final 20 kilometres because of a mechanical issue.
The race saw a flurry of attacks off the front with none sticking until the undulating course forced the peloton to split at the 75km mark. Lapthorne was a part of a small breakaway group that took their chances with only 10 kilometres to go, before the Victorian kicked away with no one able to chase him down in time for the final climb to the finish.
“It was a tough day out there today. It was windy, hilly, wet conditions but that suits me. In the last ten kilometres the dynamics of the race changed, I could tell everyone was tired and I knew it was about the time to give it a shot,” Lapthorne said.
It was de javu in the morning’s criterium in Heywood with Brenton Jones again claiming line honours over teammate Anthony Giacoppo (Genesys), second and Ryan MacAnally (Budget Forklifts), third.
"It feels pretty good. Two NRS stage wins in two days, I can't complain about that — I'm loving it," said Jones, who crossed from Torq-BSS to Genesys for the South Coast tour.
"Seeing eight strong riders in front of you with three laps to go, when you come to the finish line in the back of your mind you say 'you've got to win it for all those boys' because they're doing the hard yards on the front," said Jones.
Jones’ teammate Giacoppo said the 20-year-old was showing his worth in the team.
"Brenton's a new recruit and showing the rest of us up a bit so we might have to try and slow him down," the National Criterium Champion joked.
Drapac’s strong road stage has seen them overtake Genesys for the overall team’s general classification, ahead by 27seconds, with team SASI 1.06min behind for third place.
Giacoppo said the teams classification is something the Genesys Wealth team are targeting this series.
“One of our biggest goals this season is to take out the team’s classification- it means a great deal to our sponsors,” he said.
Day three in the tour starts in Port Fairy with a 50 kilometre criterium before a 60km road race from Port Fairy to Hawksdale.