Paddy Bevin (Avanti) was regarded as the danger man by Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreeenEdge) all week at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour and the New Zealander lived up to the hype by winning the queen stage of the race up Arthurs Seat to finish in second place overall. Meyer's second place on the stage secured him the overall win.
"I was just grovelling for wheels to be honest, it’s a pretty tough finish and I have a bit of weight over those guys so I was just waiting for the road to flatten out with 600 metres to go. I knew if I waited till there, I’d be tough to beat in the run to the line," Bevin said after claiming his first professional win.
Avanti and Bevin started the stage with the objective of claiming the overall victory and although they missed out on yellow, ended the race with Bevin and Joe Cooper (Avanti) on the podium.
"It's tough when you're balancing the GC and the stage. We knew when we came around with two laps that GreenEdge still had a full squad there and it was going to be pretty tough to unseat the GC. We talked about the other options and I spoke to Joe [Cooper] at the bottom and he said he was a bit 'so-so' and I knew that if I could just hold on for dear life I would be pretty good odds in the sprint.
"That was the 'plan b' for the day if we couldn't take GC off them, it was always going to be a tall ask with such a strong team, but we threw it at them and gave it a good nudge and to come away with the stage win is a consolation for sure.
"Personally, yes [I am satisfied with the result]. That's a pretty tough finish for me. Hill top finishes are never easy and to be there with riders of that calibre, there were only a handful of guys in contention, says good things about my form and it's a luxury to be able to sprint on top of that. It's a good way to win a bike race."
Bevin started off his season with third in the New Zealand national time trial and sixth in the road race, won by Cooper, before returning to racing at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race where he finished 13th. His results at the Sun Tour saw him finish 8th, 3rd, 23rd, 9th and a win, to continue his impressive start to the season with his new Avanti team.
"It's been building," he said of his confidence. "Last week at Cadel's race I finished 13th, which was my first race since Nationals and the form has been coming around and the trainings been really good. I've had a really good run into the early part of the season. I took some time off after the end of the NRS last year and built really well and now to be racing it's a good feeling. We don't have the racing back home so to get a solid block in, you can ramp up and step up and it's a good way to move up a few levels."
Bevin is back to racing next week but it will be over a month before he gets another opportunity to race at 2.1 level.
"I have Oceanias next week, riding the time trial and the road race," Bevin said of his programme. "Then it's the REV Cycle Race back home, virtually my home town in New Zealand, has just got UCI status. It's a 1.2 and should be fun. I love the course and its 15 minutes from home. After that, it's Tour of Taiwan in March.