Tour of Mansfield – Day One
The Shire of Mansfield today hosted the first and second stages of the Mansfield Tour, the 2nd round of the 2018 Towards Zero Victorian Road Series. We came into the race with some GC aspirations, but the heat and wind of North-East Victoria often takes no prisoners.
The mornings’ TT was always going to present an issue – our climbers weren’t particularly well equipped for the short and fast 12km test. The main thing on offer was team bragging rights. In this, we were able to share the spoils with Jason and Rylan coming in with exactly the same time – but unfortunately were still a little way off the pace.
On a new course, it was going to be a tactical affair. Not a long course at just 74 km, it featured a rolling and somewhat exposed out and back before a fast run into a 6km climb. The start was hectic. After Jason Thomason and David Randall made it into the initial break of 15 riders, we, unfortunately, missed the second, decisive 4-man break which included stage winner James Whelan.
New 2018 signings David Randall and Rylan Dowdell making their team’s VRS debuts, the team worked hard to ride together and keep Rylan and Ethan out of trouble at the front of the race. We reckon David’s wide frame will come in handy in a lot of windy, hilly races this year!
After the slog back from Mirimbah to Mansfield, Liam Lawlor, Lachlan Darch and David delivered Jason, Rylan and Ethan onto the Old Tolmie Rd climb in a perfect position, despite the usual argy-bargy that the run into climbs can bring. The bunch split predictably in the first kilometre of the climb. Rylan was looking strong – but overcommitted to an attack leaving him wanting for the rest of the climb. Ethan continued his strong form, setting some impressive numbers with a solid ride finishing just out of the top 20.
Sunday’s Stage 3 see’s the team tackle the climb to the ski resort of Mount Buller. Not the hardest climb, with a consistent gradient, but a 20 km climb with significant elevation gain is never an easy proposition.