Australian U23 road champion Chris Hamilton (Avanti IsoWhey Sport) clinched stage success and the Spirit of Tasmania Tour of Tasmania yellow jersey on Friday, winning the LAFM Stage 2 with a late attack under sunny Tasmanian skies...
The 91-kilometre stage from Devonport to Penguin was action-packed from the start, with several early moves keeping the peloton occupied. Hamilton found himself in a lead group following the infamous Gunns Plains climb, rated as one of the toughest ascents in Australia, and was then too fast for Chris Harper (SwissWellness Cycling Team) in the final straight.
“Chris Harper attacked on a small rise with about 1,200 metres to go,” 21-year-old Hamilton explained. “I jumped on his wheel and he just rode full gas towards the line. We started to sprint and I managed to get past him.”
The Bendigo rider’s success elevates him into the overall lead, taking the yellow jersey from team-mate Anthony Giacoppo. Following the win Hamilton paid tribute to the team effort required to deliver his stage win.
“We had six of our seven riders together over the top of the Gunns Plains climb,” he said. “Joe Cooper, Pat Shaw, Robbie Hucker and Ben O’Connor just rode out of their skins for the final 25 kilometres. We strung the field out and dropped a number of general classification contenders. Everything just came together.”
The Spirit of Tasmania Tour of Tasmania is Hamilton’s final stage race in Avanti IsoWhey Sport colours, with the Australian U23 champion joining World Tour outfit Team Giant Alpecin in 2017. According to Hamilton, his imminent departure only adds more motivation as he targets an overall win at the historic race.
“Finishing the tour in yellow is the goal,” Hamilton admitted. “I am feeling good and was happy with how things went today. I really hope I can get the job done for the boys – it would be a perfect way to end my three years with Avanti.”
Despite handing over the general classification lead to his team-mate, Giacoppo finished third to earn a consolation place on the podium.
“Chris was always our team leader, so I was just looking after the jersey for him,” joked Giacoppo afterwards. “Being in the lead at these races is a big advantage – the other teams have to ride away from you. having Chris in yellow ahead of Saturday’s tough stage is a huge bonus.”
For Adelaide-based Harper, his strong finish in Penguin led to the youngster’s first-ever podium in the Subaru National Road Series.
“I have been riding domestically for a few years now, and this is my first podium,” offered a smiling Harper. “If I could have picked an event to place, it would have been this one – definitely the hardest race on the calendar!"
The Spirit of Tasmania Tour of Tasmania continues on Saturday with the Events Tasmania Stage 3, a 103.9-kilometre road race departing Launceston at 10.30am AEDT. The battle for the yellow jersey will likely be decided on the final climb, a brutal category one ascent to Poatina.
Heading into the penultimate stage, Alex West (mobius Future Racing) leads the Chilli FM Young Rider classification while Matthew Clark (Satalyst Verve Racing) is in the Bicycle Beer Mountain Classification jersey.