Darren Lapthorne has won an epic 104km stage three of the Caterpillar Tour of Tasmania that saw Drapac Cycling take the fight right up to the Huon-Genesys team. Lapthorne won from a four man breakaway over Jack Haig (Huon-Genesys), teammate Robbie Hucker with Brodie Talbot (Caterpillar) finishing just off the pace after being distanced in the final kilometres.
Haig came into the stage 1:48 ahead of Hucker, 3:00 in front of Talbot and 3:13 ahead of Lapthorne on the general classification and thus the situation remained comfortable for the Huon-Genesys squad as Haig was towed to the race lead by his three breakaway companions.
The move, however, was not free of risk for the Huon-Genesys squad as their five man stranglehold on the race GC has been reduced to a one man battle as Haig will now have to fend off attacks from Hucker, Lapthorne and Talbot in the coming days.
"To come away with the yellow is a bit of a bonus, and it will be interesting to see how it goes for the rest of the tour – hopefully we can keep it," said Haig after moving into the overall lead.
Riders departed on a wet and cold morning in Hamilton with reports of temperatures as low as three degrees at the stage finish at Lake St Clair doing little to boost their enthusiasm.
It took a while for the right selection of riders to gain a significant advantage but the once correct combination of seven riders found their way off the front of the peloton they quickly built their lead to over three minutes by the 30km mark.
Riders present in the break were Floris Goesinnen (Drapac), Rowan Dever (Target Trek), Gerald Evans (Polygon), Peter Herzig (Budget Forklifts), Nick Bensley (CharterMason) and Daniel O'Keefe (GPM Data#3).
The time gap was out to four minutes over the top of the first KOM of the day where Dever crossed the line ahead of Herzig and Goesinnen with 65km still to race.
Soon after, a chase group of nine riders began bridging from the peloton to the leading group of seven. As the race progressed onto the difficult second KOM of the day, 4.4km at nearly 7%, four riders emerged from the chase group and passed the break to move into the lead of race.
Lapthorne, Hucker and Talbot were pushing the pace of the three man group whilst Jack Haig was playing the role of policeman for the Huon-Genesys team.
With 30km left to race, what remained of the original break, and the chasers that had bridged across, totalled roughly 30 riders and they sat 1:30 behind the leading quartet. There remained time for a coordinated chase to bring the race back together, but a lack of cohesion saw the four off the front extend their lead out to over three minutes with 10km to race.
No attacks came until the final kilometres when Haig and Lapthorne got a gap on Talbot and Hucker. Hucker made it back across as Lapthorne closed out a very successful stage for the Drapac team as Haig snuck in for second.
"The plan was really to set Robbie Hucker back into contention, because he's almost a minute in front of me in the general classification," Lapthorne explained. "We planned to get away with one of the Huon-Genesys guys because if we didn't, we knew we'd have the whole team chasing pretty hard.
"Once we had the right combination of riders away we all committed and it just worked out perfectly. I got the stage win and Robbie is second on general classification so we're right back in this race," Lapthorne said.
Race leader at the start of the day, Nathan Earle (Huon-Genesys), remained positive despite dropping down to sixth on the general classification.
"It was a really good result for Jack, he's up there now in the leader's jersey and still has a good gap on the rest of the guys," Earle said. "Obviously it's a little bit disappointing that we were so far back in the peloton, but that's just racing and there was nothing we could really do about that.
"Jai [Crawford] and I have only dropped down a few places, so we're still right up there, and Jack's in the lead – so things for the team are good," Earle said.
There were no changes in the sprint and king of the mountain classifications as Alexander Ray (Target Trek) and Thomas Hamilton (VIS) held their respective jerseys. Along with the overall race lead, Haig also continues to hold the best young rider's jersey whilst Drapac reduced Huon-Genesys' lead in the team classification from 5:24 to 1:52.
The Tour of Tasmania continues tomorrow with action a plenty on the difficult 93km stage from Launceston to Grindewald where riders will crest a tough 8% 2.5km climb with just four kilometres to race.
More to come
Rider Name (Country) Team
Darren Lapthorne (Vic) Drapac Cycling
Jack Haig (Vic) Huon Salmon-Genesys Wealth Advisers Pro Cycling Team
Robbie Hucker (Vic) Drapac Cycling
Brodie Talbot (NSW) Caterpillar
William Walker (Vic) Drapac Cycling
Jordan Kerby (Qld) Budget Forklifts
Callum Scotson (SA) Euride Racing
Harry Carpenter (SA) Euride Racing
James Szollosi (Qld) Caterpillar
Joshua Prete (Qld) Budget Forklifts
Lucas Hamilton (Vic) Jayco/Apollo Vis Men's Road Team
Nathan Earle (Tas) Huon Salmon-Genesys Wealth Advisers Pro Cycling Team
Nathan Elliott (Vic) Caterpillar
Floris Goesinnen (Ned) Drapac Cycling
Jason Spencer (Vic) Chartermason Drapac Development Team
Jacob Restall (Qld) Caterpillar
Jai Crawford (Tas) Huon Salmon-Genesys Wealth Advisers Pro Cycling Team
Jordan Davies (NSW) St George Skoda Hp Team
Justin Gassner (SA) Veneziano Blefari Cycling Team
Eric Sheppard (Vic) Search2Retain P/B Health.Com.Au
Oscar Stevenson (Vic) Jayco/Apollo Vis Men's Road Team
Ben Dyball (NSW) Huon Salmon-Genesys Wealth Advisers Pro Cycling Team
Mitchell Cooper (Vic) Satalyst Giant Racing Team
Oliver Martin (Tas) Team Polygon Australia
Mark O'Brien (Vic) Euride Racing
Karl Evans (SA) Budget Forklifts
Josh Aldridge (NZl) Downer Edi Mining National Cycling Team
Matthew Clark (Vic) Chartermason Drapac Development Team
Andrew Roe (SA) Euride Racing
Peter Herzig (Qld) Budget Forklifts
Nick Bensley (Vic) Chartermason Drapac Development Team
Rowan Dever (Vic) Target Trek Racing Team
Timothy Cameron (ACT) St George Skoda Hp Team
Alexander Morgan (Vic) Jayco/Apollo Vis Men's Road Team
Daniel Molyneux (NZl) Downer Edi Mining National Cycling Team
Sam Mccallum (Tas) Team Polygon Australia
Fergus Sully (Vic) Target Trek Racing Team
James Swadling (NSW) Goodstone Group
Tyler Spurrell (Vic) African Wildlife Safaris Cycling Team
Rhys Gillett (Vic) African Wildlife Safaris Cycling Team