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Stage one winner Thomas Palmer (Drapac) on the podium.
Fourth-time lucky for Drapac team in Japan
Thomas Palmer has finally snared his first Tour de Okinawa title after four attempts. The young Australian who rides for the Drapac Professional Cycling has won the opening prologue every year since 2009 however, the traditional two-day format has seen the 22-year-old lose out on the final day. This year's edition was run as a single 210km road race with Palmer the fastest to the line after more than five and a half hours.
Yusuke Hatanaka (Shimano Racing Team) and Yasuharu Nakajima (Aisan Racing Team) came in second and third respectively as part of a 15-man group finishing on the time as race winner Palmer.
Palmer has been unable to back-up his past prologue results with a strong finish in the road stage but this year he was in the perfect position thanks to his teammates hard work and physical condition to make it into the final selection of less than 20 riders that former inside the decisive moments of the day.
"On the final climb of the day, which had claimed Palmer previously whilst wearing the yellow jersey, a selection of 18 was made with less than 10 kilometres remaining which included both Palmer and Floris Goesinnen," said a release from Drapac.
"With one Nippo rider launching early Palmer kept his cool and began his sprint with 500 meters to go crossing the line several lengths ahead of his competitors also collecting the U23 classification to top off a great day," said the release.
Palmer begun his season strongly and was given his chance to shine at the Tour Down Under with the Uni SA-Australian national team. He came close to securing his first top-10 at a WorldTour race when he placed 11th in the opening day from Prospect to Clare.
The multiple-time junior track world champion was soon back in his Drapac colours for the Tour of Wellington in New Zealand. He won stage 4 and finished second in stage 5 while supporting his teammate Darren Lapthorne to second-place overall.
Palmer could not continue his strong showing throughout the season as illness forced the rider to miss parts of the season. His second race back after recovering from sickness was the Melbourne to Warrnambool and he showed his class by finishing eighth in the sprint after 260km.
“Unfortunately he got hit with a bit of illness in May and June this year and it's taken him virtually five months to get over it,” said team manager Agostino Giramondo had told Cyclingnews.
“Believe it or not, his second race back was the Warrnambool and he finished eighth,” he said.
It would appear however, Palmer has capped-off his season in the best way possible. It was also the final race of the season for the Drapac team who will, according to Giramondo, focus more heavily on the Asia circuit in 2013.