Avanti Racing Team’s Joe Cooper finished on top in the National Capital Tour after an action packed drama filled weekend of racing.
Keen to stamp their authority on the race and the National Road Series a pre-tour training camp at The Watts Factory/ FTP Training Centre in Nowra served as the ultimate preparation. A week under the watchful eye of High Performance manager Fenz saw the boys arrive at the opening time trial frothing to get started.
The early running was dominated by Charter Mason who held the fastest times despite Matt Clark, Taylor Gunman and the returning from injury Tom Davison all posting solid top ten times. Joe was expected to upset the apple cart having dominated short TT’s all year and he didn’t disappoint posting a 10:35.33 for a new fastest time by 20 seconds. Defending Champ Paddy Bevin was last to start but uncertainty over a nagging knee tendinitis issue meant that a good time was not a guarantee. Luckily the pain seemed to stay away with Paddy eclipsing Joe with an incredible time of 10:26.04 at an average of 42km/h over the hilly course to take the win.
Stage two was probably the deciding stage of the race with the 136km course finishing up the tough Corin Dam climb. Unfortunately Paddy’s knee flared up again and the decision was made to withdraw him from the race as a precautionary move. Young gun Lucas Hamilton from the VIS took the bull by the horns and skipped away in the closing stages to take a fine solo win and with it the leaders jersey. The boys did a great job to limit the damage with Tom in 4th at 40 seconds with Marko and Joe in the same group. Matt finished at 49 seconds to maintain his position in the top ten.
The final day would see a road stage around Canberra in the morning followed by a criterium at Stromlo Park in the afternoon. Six seconds separated Joe from the lead so the plan was to put pressure on by having riders in the break and hopefully isolate Hamilton late in the piece. Matt Clarke managed to get into the break of the day as did Pat Lane from AWS who was also high in general classification. Lane was accopmanied by two teammates and set about mopping up as many seconds as possible through intermediate sprints to move up the leader board. Unfortunately Hamilton was involved in a bad fall back in the chasing peloton and wasn’t able to continue. The fall also caused a general slowing with the breaks advantage stretching from 60 seconds to 2 minutes meaning the break would survive and could really cause an upset on general classification. In the finish Josh Taylor salvaged Charter Masons tour with a great win while Lane took second with Matt in third with the peloton storming home 34 seconds later. Joe was now in the lead by just 5 seconds from Matt with Pat Lane a further second behind in third.
The final stage was all about defending what we had. Get a non-threatening break up the road to mop up the bonuses and then let the other teams bring it back for a sprint. The stage followed the script with Budget’s Scott Sunbderland coming through for the win after pulling the lone break survivor back in the final 400m. Joe finished safely in the bunch to take the victory with Matt second, Tom 5th and Marko in 9th. The boys also took out the Teams Classification and managed to extend their lead in the NRS standings to 11 point over Charter. Paddy still leads the individual standings with Joe moving up into 3rd after his win.
|1.||2||Joseph COOPER (ART)||6h11:06|
|2.||3||Matthew CLARK (ART)||+5|
|3.||33||Patrick LANE (AWS)||+6|
|4.||32||Sean LAKE (AWS)||+30|
|5.||7||Tom DAVISON (ART)||+37|
|6.||13||Sam CROME (CMR)||+37|
|7.||51||Ben O’CONNOR (NSR)||+39|
|8.||141||Jason LEA (SPH)||+42|
|9.||5||Mark O’BRIEN (ART)||+1:09|
|10.||47||Robbie HUCKER (PVG)||+1:10|
|1.||ART||Avanti Racing Team||18h33:16|
|2.||AWS||African Wildlife Safaris Cycling Team||+5:00|
|3.||CMR||Charter Mason Giant Racing Team||+5:24|
|4.||SPH||Swiftcarbon PhysioHealth Cycling Team||+9:42|
|5.||PVG||Pat’s Veg Cycling||+10:11|
|6.||NSR||Navitas Satalyst Racing Team||+10:21|
|7.||PNX||Phoenix Cycling Collective||+11:49|
|8.||STR||search2retain-health.com.au Cycling Team||+12:56|
|9.||SWC||Swiss Wellness Cycling Team||+18:30|