Mitchelton-SCOTT force GC differences on flat stage 1 of Herald Sun TourWed 5 Feb 2020
Mitchelton-SCOTT put in a textbook display with its depleted line up to help force a significant split on the opening stage of the Lexus of Blackburn Herald Sun Tour.
Taking advantage of crosswinds in the final 35km, the home WorldTour team put its full team on the front of the bunch and when the split came had all four representatives in the lead group.
Their efforts set up young neo-pro Jessica Roberts for fifth on the stage and gives leader and defending champion Lucy Kennedy a 49second advantage on some of her GC rivals going into tomorrow’s final Queen stage.
Quiet start, frantic final:
Despite a few short-lived attempts, racing stayed all together for the first 55km of the stage.
Team Tibco-SVB kick started the action at the front and their efforts stretched out the peloton and saw a number of riders drop off the back.
When Mitchelton-SCOTT took over the reins with less than 35km remaining, riding in protection of leader Kennedy, it was enough to create the significant split of 24 riders, with several caught out. With 25km remaining the gap to the second group was up to over 30seconds.
The advantage continued to yoyo for the next 20km, but whenever the chase got within striking distance Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Sarah Roy and Gracie Elvin went back to the front and extended the lead.
The final sprint was won by Arlenis Sierra (Astana Pro Team) and Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Roberts was the best placed for fifth. Kennedy finished on the same finish time, 49seconds ahead of the chasing group which contained the likes Sarah Gigante (Team Tibco-SVB) and Justine Barrow (Roxsolt Attaquer).
“As we were making the split we didn’t know who had made it because you’re trying to make the split happen and consolidate it. Once we had a chance to look around we could see that there were a few GC contenders who had missed that split so we were pretty committed to making it stick.
“We are a small team but we’re a mighty team. I think was 47seconds there, the gap, so that’s definitely made a difference and puts us in a really strong position for tomorrow.
“The team was absolutely awesome today, I have never ridden so united with everyone before. That was my goal today, to stay with my teammates, so for the first 60km I barely left Roy’s wheel.
“I felt really protected, we were really in control and we’re in a stronger position than we thought we would be; we just thought we’d be trying to roll in safely with the bunch today and instead we’ve taken time on some rivals.”
Alejandro Gonzalez-Tablas – Sport Director:
“We were not expect that. We knew it was going to be windy and we knew that the course was perfect for crosswinds, but we didn’t expect to make such a big difference at the end.
“Tibco started the push. They didn’t actually split it but we saw that they were making an impact anyway so that’s when we decided to actually go for it.
“Everyone’s job was to keep Lucy protected. Lucy did an amazing job being in position and that’s probably one of the first times we’ve seen her working that well on that. Roy and Gracie did an amazing team job leading the group and keep the gap before Jess had a crack in the sprint. She went a little early but managed fifth.”
Lexus of Blackburn Herald Sun Tour – Stage 1 Results:
1. Arlenia Sierre (Astana Pro Team) 2:15:56
2. Anna Trevisi (Ale) ST
2. Ruby Roseman-Gannon (ACA) ST
3. Jessica Roberts (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
Photo courtesy of Con Chronis.