Rohan Dennis (Team Jayco Skins) took the overall lead at the GMHBA Tour of Geelong on stage five after gaining time on his nearest rival Rhys Pollock (Drapac Porsche) in hilly country around the Brisbane Ranges on Saturday.
Dennis, 20, finished fourth to Sydney’s Cameron Peterson (Virgin Blue/RBS Morgans) in the 143-km fifth stage, which doubled as the Victorian open road championship. However Pollock, who had led the Tour since the opening criterium stage on Wednesday, was down in 13th place, 2 minutes, 27seconds behind Dennis.
Pollock rode bravely over the three-lap testing circuit, but his team was no match for Dennis’ Jayco Skins squad. He received great support from teammates Patrick Lane and Richard Lang at the business end of the event.
Dennis, who this week was named in the Australian Under 23 squad for next month's the world road championships, revealed after the wind-hammered stage that Jayco Skins had planned to attack Pollock on the many hills which peppered the circuit.
“Our plan was to have a crack in the last lap and basically get rid of Rhys,” Dennis said. “I think we pretty much softened him up in the second last lap and I could see that he was in a bit of trouble.”
Pollock, who led Dennis by seven seconds going into today’s road race, said afterwards that he was extremely disappointed to lose the race lead. “You can only do so much by yourself and it was an exceptionally tough stage,” he said.
A field of 145 riders lined up for the championship but only four – Peterson, Patrick Shaw, defending title holder Cameron Jennings and Dennis – remained in contention at the finish. Peterson, 26, won by 200 metres from Shaw, who won the recent Lakes Oil Tour of Gippsland, with Jennings third.
The Tour of Geelong, backed by Tourism Victoria and the City of Greater Geelong, concludes tomorrow with the Victorian open criterium championship in Geelong’s Eastern Gardens.
The women’s 95km open road championship was won by Melbourne’s Joanne Hogan from Queenslanders Laura Luxford and Loren Rowney. Hogan also won the women’s open time trial championship at Portarlington yesterday.