By Kirsten Robbins in Dahlonega, Georgia
The Bissell team's Tour de Georgia stage five winner from Australia, Richard England, ran away with the sprint after his directeur sportif Glen Mitchell have him the green light have a go on the run in to Dahlonega. England is no stranger to field sprints, taking a fourth place in stage one and two top ten finishes even after providing his team with invaluable domestique work throughout the duration of the race.
"My team did an awesome job today, it was like a completely different atmosphere, the way we were racing," said England comparing his team's usual GC-style of racing with Friday's focus on the sprint. "We had a guy in the break all day, guys to make sure we didn't miss splits, guys helping to put our team in good position in the end and it all went to perfection.
"We sort of knew that last climb was going to split the field a little bit and that I had to be in the top dozen, they did everything to keep me there and I had six Bissell guys around me in the end. Hopefully from now on when I've got good legs, I'll get a bit more respect from the other guys in the peloton but more importantly my team-mates will have the confidence in me that they need."
According to directeur sportif Glen Mitchell, the Bissell team used most of their budget to give their GC riders the crucial support needed to be competitive in top-level stage racing in America. "Having a GC team is just the way the team has evolved and it stemmed from the results Ben Jacques-Maynes was getting," said Mitchell at the team training camp in Santa Rosa, California held in February prior to the Tour of California. "Sprinters cost a lot of money and we hope to improve that part of our team in the future, but for this season we decided to focus our budget on the GC side first."
While the team has proven to be highly competitive in the overall standings of races in the US, England felt his legs were good enough for a stage win in the Tour de Georgia and asked his DS to shift the team focus for stage five.
"I wanted to tell Glen that I was feeling really good and felt like I needed a bit more support from my guys," said England regarding a pre-race meeting with Mitchell the evening before his winning stage. "It had to come from Glen because I didn't want to try to ask the guys myself. I wanted Glen to back me up, I told him I got good legs and all I needed was a little bit of help in the end and that a podium would be great for our team here.
"Less than twenty-four hours later we won a stage here at the Tour de Georgia and it was a good way to repay Teddy for being out in the break all day and to get Bissell on the podium."
England hopes this stage win will build his own confidence as a top notch sprinter while further building the confidence his team needs to do the difficult backup work. "I've always known that I had the speed but did not necessarily put the aggression behind it and didn't necessarily have the same amount of help as a Toyota guy like Dominguez and guys where their teams really have confidence in their sprinters.
"I've also never had the consistency in sprinting that I've had recently," said England. "I've worked to change my mental attitude toward sprinting and really make sure that when I was coming into the finishes and it was a bunch finish that I would be switched on and more aggressive than what I might have been before."