Smith rounds up the season with third place at Japan CupSun 20 Oct 2019
New Zealander Dion Smith closed off his 2019 season today with an impressive third place finish at Japan Cup after making it into a select front group.
Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) took the race honours after breaking away with Michael Woods (EF Educaton First) in the closing two laps, with Smith part of a fierce chase behind, fighting all the way to the line to make it onto the podium for Mitchelton-SCOTT.
Stannard gets away
With a hard parcours race around 14laps of a hilly circuit, young neo-pro Rob Stannard was the first to represent Mitchelton-SCOTT, jumping into a breakaway group with seven other riders.
The group remained ahead lap-after-lap, until the peloton decided their time had come and they were finally swallowed up before fresh attacks came.
Splits in the group
With a climb to contest with each lap, the race began to be a wearing down process and a select group of around 20riders were able to get away, before reducing down even further over the heavy terrain as the finish line grew closer.
Mollema and Woods made the race winning move, accelerating away from the small group with around two-laps to go and opened up a small gap that proved to be enough.
Behind, four-riders including Smith went on the chase, clawing their way back to the two leaders but not quite making the junction. Smith continued to battle on and claimed the final place on the podium, a nice reward for the hard work throughout the day in his final race of the season.
"I'm pretty happy to pull off a result and being the last race of the season it’s a cool way to cap it off. Lotto-Jumbo had a full team and team with a lot of climbers, they made it really hard four laps to go and from there the main selections were made.
"I wasn’t sure how my legs were going to be but also new I still had some good fitness there from the Vuelta which helped with going deep into the final.
"The team goal was to get on the podium, the plan was to try get someone in the move to open options later in the race and having Rob there was ideal. With only four of us in the team we just had to sit back, ride good position and follow the other world tour teams. F
"James Fouche did a good job helping me and making sure I had everything all day so overall I think we can be happy with the outcome."
Mathew Hayman - Sport Director
"It was good to have Rob represented out the front, he did a great job there out the front, that breakaway group contained all WorldTour teams and it was a really hard start. After that the race whittled itself down and Dion came to the front.
“He said he wasn’t feeling great with a few laps to go but he obviously was when you see the caliber of those guys he was out the front with. Both those guys won big races last week so I think by doing the Vuelta obviously held him and it was a fantastic way for Dion . It is a great to finish the year, his first year at Mitchelton-SCOTT."
Japan Cup results:
1. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) 3:41:13
2. Michael Woods (EF Education First) +0:01
3. Dion Smith (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:44
Photo courtesy of Getty Images