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With a powerful sprint in the final few hundred metres, Bevin won the queen stage of Herald Sun Tour while Meyer finished second and won the race overall

Photo: Herald Sun Tour

CAMERON MEYER

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HERALD SUN TOUR

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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SIMON CLARKE

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08.02.2015 @ 09:41 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Patrick Bevin (Avanti) again confirmed his huge potential when he won the queen stage of Australia’s oldest stage race Herald Sun Tour with a powerful sprint in the final few hundred metres of the 3km up Arthur’s Seat. Overall leader Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEDGE) did well to finish second ahead of his teammate Simon Clarke which was enough for him to claim the overall win in the five-day race.

 

Last year Patrick Bevin had a breakthrough season when he won the overall National Racing Series title, marking himself out as a man to watch for the future. Today he confirmed his potential by winning the biggest race of his career when he came out on top in the Herald Sun Tour queen stage that finished at the top of the famous Arhtur’s Seat climb.

 

Bevin had already proved his great form last Sunday when he was in the mix in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and he was one of the 21 riders that made the big split on stage 1 of the Sun Tour. Hence, he went into the final stage as one of the big threats to overall leader Cameron Meyer and with several teammates still in contention, he and the Avanti team had lots of cards to play.

 

With three passages of Arthur’s Seat, there was plenty of terrain to do some damage and it was the Avanti team that took control by driving the pace the second time up the climb to create a selection and catch a strong early break. The catch was made at the bottom of the final climb and then it was left to the GC riders to fight it out for the overall win and stage honours.

 

Orica-GreenEDGE came to the form with Damien Howson to set a brutal pace that discouraged attacks but he couldn’t stop Lachlan Norris (Drapac) from making the first attempt. The Australian didn’t get clear though and instead it was Robert Power (UniSA) who launched the big acceleration.

 

Meyer and his Orica-GreenEDGE teammate Simon Clarke were quick to respond and Bevin also clung onto the wheel of the leading riders. Known for his powerful sprint, it put him in the perfect position for the final few hundred metres as no one was apparently able to make a difference. In the final, he put down the hammer and took an impressive stage win ahead of Meyer and Clarke.

 

Meyer didn’t lose any time and even though he saw his advantage over Bevin get reduced by 4 seconds due to bonifications, he won the 5-day race overall, adding the title to his 2011 win in the Tour Down Under. Bevin moved into second while his Avanti teammate Joe Cooper completed the podium.

 

Meyer’s strong showing was enough to earn himself the win in the points competition while Cameron Bayly (Satalyst) who had been on the attack two days in a row, took the mountains jersey off Power’s shoulders. Power, however, was the best young rider while Orica-GreenEDGE won the battle against Avanti in the teams classification.

 

With the Herald Sun Tour done and dusted, the Australian summer has come to an end and while Bevin and the rest of the domestic scene prepares themselves for the start of the NRS series, Orica-GreenEDGE will head to Europe for their first racing in cycling’s traditional heartland.

 

A brutal stage

After two days for the sprinters, the riders tackled the queen stage on the final day of the race as they headed over 125.4km from the top Arthur’s Seat back to the same summit. After an opening loop that was by no means flat, the riders ended the race by doing two laps of a tough finishing circuit in the finale, meaning that they would climb the 3km ascent no less than 3 times in the final third of the race.

 

The riders took the start under surprisingly cold conditions and along the way they even had to contend with a bit of rain. Many had expected the race to get off to a very aggressive start as 21 riders were still in overall contention but surprisingly the early break was formed already inside the first 10km of the race.

 

A big break

When the elastic had snapped Nic Dougall, Matt Goss (MTN-Qhubeka), Tanner Putt (UnitedHealthCare), William Clarke, Samuel Spokes (Drapac), Richard Handley (JLT), Cameron Bayly (search2retain), Jayden Copp, David Edwards (Charter Mason), Alexander Smyth (African Wildlife Safaris), Steele von Hoff (Australia), Gabreil Cullaigh and Christopher Lawless (Great Britain) made up the move and none of them were any threats to the overall. Paul van der Ploeg and one of his Charter Mason teammates briefly tried to bridge the gap but as it was already 1.37, they never made the junction.

 

In the peloton, it was the UniSA team of climbing talent Power that took control and they kept the gap stable. At the 24km mark, it was still 1.37 but after 30km of racing, it had come up to 1.56.

 

Avanti set the pace

Avanti took over the pace-setting and they started to bring down the gap. It came down to 1.17 but when von Hoff bat Spokes and Dougall in the first intermediate sprint after 60km of racing, it was back up to 1.40.

 

Avanti again accelerated and brought the gap down to 1.10 at the 75km mark as they approached the first passage of the climb. This prompted UniSA to again come to the fore and they had the gap down to 1.00 as they hit the slopes.

 

The break splits up

Avanti tried to make things hard by setting a hard tempo while the breakaway split. When Bayly led Putt and Handley over the top, only von Hoff, Clarke and Spokes had managed to hang onto them and they were still 1.04 ahead.

 

As they hit the climb for the second time, the advantage was down to 46 seconds, and this time Clarke had to surrender to the pace, dropping back to the peloton that was still led by Avanti. Bayly led von Hoff and Spokes over the top to secure the win in the mountains competition.

 

The gap was still 55 second with 12km to go but as the fight for position in the peloton had now started, the group was caught before they hit the final climb. That’s when Howson came to the front to set the scene for the exciting finale.

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