The Torq Allstar team continued its battle to regain the lead in the Terra Australis stage race happening this week in Australia. Torq Allstar had lost time on stage one after an unfortunate mechanical cost them more than 30 minutes.
Following stages one and two, the Torq Allstar team of Dan McConnell and Luke Fetch blasted the 72km stage 3. McConnell showed all of his strength by attacking from the drop of the flag at the beginning. His partner Fetch worked hard to stay in contact and they rotated the lead for the duration of the stage.
Total Rush, which includes Mark Fenner and Sam Bach, minimized the damage by allowing Torq Allstar to gain only 6:25, which meant their lead dropped to 22:39 from 34 minutes.
McConnell and Fetch also captured the 116km stage four, with 3,200m of elevation gain. Racers started the stage in the alpine village of Bright before embarking on a circumnavigation of Mt. Buffalo. At the top of the first climb, the Torq Allstar team had opened up a two-minute lead. Behind them Total Rush fixed a puncture which dropped them into third. Team BMC was second over the climb, but Total Rush had chased down Torq Allstar by the feed station.
Out of the first feed station, Torq Allstar once again attacked on a climb and quickly put 90 seconds between them and Total Rush. The climb up Goldie Spur was the middle point of the race in a stage that Fenner described as "massive, massive, massive".
By stage end McConnell and Fetch had pulled back 21:02 minutes on the Total Rush team. That left Total Rush still in the lead, but by a slender 1:37 over Torq Allstar.
Total Rush rider Sam Bach said, "We had expected Lukey (Luke Fetch) would have blown up by now, but the young bloke just keeps powering on. We thought our experience would benefit us through this race format but the young blokes just keep coming. We will give it everything we have over the next three stages. We have the fastest bloke in the country chasing us and with 170kms to peg back such a small difference we have our work cut out.
"We are not going to give an inch. Today was the hardest day I have ever had on a bike. I am hurting but we are ready for whatever they are going to throw at us."
McConnell shared similar sentiments. "We pumped out 360 watts for five and a half hours and tore down the descents. It was a brutal day and we are rapt that we have been able to grab back another 21 minutes."
McConnell and Fetch now have three stage wins to Total Rush's one. Three stages remain.