In one of the few summit finishes in the National Road Series, it was Jesse Featonby (Swisse Welness) who emerged the fastest on the short but very tough ascent of Black Mountain. The Albury based rider was part of a 10-man group chasing down the bold attack of Ben Dyball (Mobius Future Racing) from the base of the climb. Featonby used the hardest section of the climb to launch his own bid for victory, surging clear to take the win.
Youngsters Dylan Sunderland (State of Matter/MAAP) and Robert Stannard (Mobius Future Racing) filled out the podium positions just 5 seconds behind the Albury-based rider, with race leader Joe Cooper retaining his yellow jersey with a ride to fifth. After the finish Featonby spoke to Peloton Café about the victory.
“It came together at the bottom of the hill and Ben Dyball, one the best climbers in Australia hit out really hard at the bottom of the climb. I managed to follow him then hit out nearer the top.”
“I had a pretty bad day yesterday, I didn’t perform as well as I expected but I knew today would suit me a lot better, being a hilltop finish,” said Featonby. “I used to live in Canberra so I know this climb like the back of my hand. So I knew where was the right spot to hit them.”
Featonby is a former world-class triathlete, only really transitioning over to the road at the 2015 Tour of Bright, where he immediately turned heads with a series of top performances on the torturous climbs of that course.
“I’ve only really been racing for seven months, I had some good results but then there I had some issues with crashes and injury. I couldn’t be happier though, getting a win in the National Road Series. It was only a year ago that I was racing the world championships in the triathlon, so to be winning at the top level of road cycling in Australia, it’s pretty cool.“
“You never really know how well you’re going, I know I’m climbing well but going up against the best riders, it’s very different.
Jake Kauffmann (Subaru NSWIS) was the lone animator of the laps around the Yarralumba circuit, staying away from the peloton all the way into the early slopes of the climb after riding on his own for over 60 kilometres. He managed to grab the sprint jersey for his trouble but it was far from his target, later describing the move as a spontaneous one.
“There wasn’t really that much thought process in it,” said Kauffmann. “I went for a sprint, was third on the line and the two guys ahead of me sat up and I went on with it and instantly had a 15 second gap because the bunch had sat up and let us go a bit for the sprint. Getting the gap is the hardest, so when it happened almost by accident I decided to go on with it. At least I got a training day out of it, I was never going to win up the climb.”
The initial closed circuits around Yarralumba were very controlled apart from Kauffmann’s attack, which suited the Subaru NSWIS rider just fine.
“It was really great actually, smooth and flowing and it was nice to have it all to myself. Picking my own line and avoiding the surging that they were probably doing back in the bunch.”
The bunch never let the gap get above a minute, wary of the former rugby league player’s strength after his second on the previous stage.
“Yeah, even though I’m not a climber, the climb wasn’t long and if I’d hit the bottom of the climb with a minute I’d grow an extra leg and might have held them off.”
In the end the gap was at 30 seconds when the peloton raced past Old Parliament House and over Lake Burley Griffen to skirt around to the base of Black Mountain.
Joe Cooper (Avanti IsoWhey Sports) finished only seven seconds down on Featonby for fifth on the stage, but conceded a bit of time to young prodigy Robert Stannard, who moved into second overall and cut Cooper’s lead to 20 seconds. Dylan Sunderland confirmed his talent with a second place on the stage also moving him into third on the general classification. After the stage Cooper spoke about how the race panned out.
“A good team performance out there today, we kept the race quite controlled for the fourteen laps, then hit the base of the hill. I found myself with ‘Hamo’ (Chris Hamilton) for company and we set about riding to my upper limit for most of the climb, and then I had to push for the last 300 metres to stay in contention.”
“For GC, you never know until the fat lady sings, so tomorrow we’ll keep doing what we do best and keep things under control, making sure we’re never on the back foot.”
Harrison Bailey (GPM-Stluz) was the main rider hunting the points on the KOMs around the Yarrlaumba circuit and did enough to take the polka dot jersey despite Kauffmann’s move taking away a lot of points.
Tomorrow’s double stage day will see the peloton tackle a kermesse in the morning before an afternoon criterium on the Mt Stromlo circuit.