After a tough day for all involved over the dirt and gravel climbs of the King Valley region it was Pat Shaw (Avanti IsoWhey Sports) who emerged victorious in a reduced bunch finish over Jesse Kerrison (State of Matter/MAAP) and Ryan Christensen (Oliver’s Real Food Racing). Race leader after Stage 1 Joe Cooper finished on bunch time to retain the overall lead.
The race had been blown to pieces on the dirt sections and gravel climbs that peppered the course, with multiple large groups forming and trying to chase back to the front. It was a group of 58 that eventually contested the finish with Avanti IsoWhey Sports, State of Matter/MAAP, Mobius Futures and Oliver’s Real Food Racing all fighting to take their chosen sprinter into the final corner first.
Coming round the bend, Kerrison was through first but went onto the grass, with Cyrus Monk (Pat’s Veg) also disadvantaged by a puddle on the finishing straight. The chaotic sprint finish saw Pat Shaw emerge the quickest, crossing over the line first with Kerrison trying to make up ground and Ryan Christensen coming around Monk to take third.
A mud-splattered Pat Shaw described the tumultuous stage which was run in very chilly conditions around the King Valley region.
“I came off the Tour of the Great South Coast and wasn’t quite sure how I’d pull up, especially after the time trial yesterday,” said Shaw. “I was happy with the power I put out there but the other guys were a lot quicker and it’s not really my thing.”
The stage was a bit of a mess with the peloton splitting up over major KOM of the day and with riders continuously puncturing and dropping back, it was tough to make much sense of the race. No significant breakaways were allowed to get any time, with the pace at the front of the race kept high to stop the dropped riders from rejoining.
“Joe Cooper punctured at the bottom of the dirt climb, the Strade Nero and actually called for me to give him a wheel and I called for another guy to give it to him instead. Im glad I did that now, I took the KOM and because I was put under the pressure of knowing he was back there I think it gave me the confidence to step up to the next level.”
“So I took that KOM, felt really good and basically followed every move from there until the groups come back together. Cooper punctured again, dropped his bottle as well, there were a lot of things that went against us today but you don’t panic. I think when you have great riders around you it’s easy not to panic. We did that and the guys rode the last 35 kilometres into a head-crosswind and they were phenomenal. Chris Hamilton, ahead of me on GC, Robbie Hucker, ahead of me on GC and Pat Lane was just unbelievable and then that allows me to have a sprint. I’m just glad that I won for those guys more than myself.”
The technical finish played into the hands of the tactically savvy Shaw who talked through his thoughts at the finish.
“I followed Jesse in the finish and you follow him because he’s the fastest guy in the country probably. I saw him going to the right-hand side and last night when I came and had a look at the stage I knew that you couldn’t pass anyone on the right, so I went up the left. Pat Lane said if you go through that corner first you’ll win. I went through third but managed to get the job done.”
Jesse Kerrison, 2nd on the stage had been briefly dropped on the main climb of the day but was brought back to the front by a combination of State of Matter/MAAP riders and SASI/Callidus, who were working for the wearer of the Power2Max Young Rider’s jersey wearer Alex Porter, who had punctured.
“Coming into the finish it was a fairly block headwind so that made it nervous,” said Kerrison, “then with a right-left combination with 150 metres it was always going to be first to that left. I picked the wrong side of the wheel coming in and I ended up on the grass with 150 metres to go. I chased Pat into the finish but didn’t have quite enough room so ended up second.”
Ryan Christensen got good reward for his attacking efforts during the stage, often on the front foot throughout the stage and managing to sprint to 3rd to give Oliver’s Real Foods their second ever podium in NRS racing.
“I managed to make it over the climb and through the big splits in the front group,” said Christensen. “I didn’t puncture and had 4 guys with me as well which was great having the team around me coming into the finish. We had a great leadout, we had Dever and Reddish sitting at front, going toe to toe with Avanti.”
“I’m actually normally the leadout man for my teammate, Sean Whitfield, but I got my opportunity today and made the most of it. It was a good podium the first one for me and hopefully we can continue to improve on that.”
James Finch-Penninger, Freelance Cycling Journalist
BrakeDown Podcast founder