The 67th edition of the Herald Sun Tour. Australia’s oldest stage race, affectionately known as the SunTour, the race takes on 5 stages around Victoria.
This year’s edition is set to be one of the toughest in recent memory, with Hill Top finishes on both Falls Creek and Mt Buller, some of the country’s toughest climbs.
Getting proceedings underway with stage 1 of the Herald Sun Tour from Nagambie to Shepparton, fairly flat stage in the state’s north. The team were on the front foot all day, with Nick White contesting the first intermediate sprint before Ben Hill powered his way into the day’s breakaway. The break of 5 worked well together, building a gap of nearly 3 minutes on the peloton. Ben continues to impress with his strong January form, taking out the second intermediate sprint before attempting to forge on solo to ensure the Most Aggressive Rider was his. unfortunately, Nick came down in the day’s stage, diagnosed with broken ribs. Wishing Nick a speedy recovery.
It was always going to be a test for the General Classification guys, with the stage finishing at the summit of a near 30km climb up Falls Creek. The ever-aggressive Ben Hill once again made the day’s breakaway and scooped up enough points to secure the Sprint Jersey heading into stage 3. Unfortunately, the team continued a rough stretch of luck, with Kees Duyvesteyn being forced out of the race after a nasty crash. Sam Jenner has shown consistent improvement since participating in the Tour Down Under, and was our best finisher on the day, out climbing some of the world’s best to finish just outside the top 20.
With it another big day for Ben in the break fighting tenaciously to keep his grips on the green jersey. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be; cramping hard just 3km out from the second intermediate sprint meant that stage winner Groves pipped him by two points. Looking towards tomorrow, the silver lining is that he will only have to ride 77kms in the break to contest the two intermediate sprints in an attempt to reclaim the jersey.
To no one's surprise, Ben was back in the break today as he looked to reclaim the points classification jersey. Joined by Toovey the duo worked diligently together taking maximum points and restoring our man into the green. Though it's not all wrapped up yet as we head into the final stage tomorrow in Melbourne where the valuable bonus seconds will be in hot contention as the GC comes down to the wire.
It only took riding roughly 400km off the front to get here but it was all down to the fifth and final stage. Dropping the hammer from the go Ben was on a mission. Working well with a small break, it wasn't long before they had a decent gap of the chasing peloton and with eyes on the first intermediate sprint, Ben decisively sewed it up. Taking maximum points, he secured the Points Classification Jersey as all the hard work he put in during the tour had finally paid off. Congrats again to Ben and the team who battled so hard to get the result - this making it our second green jersey in as many years at the Sun Tour!