There were a lot of riders and teams that missed out on Stage 1 of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour and that meant the second stage would not be easy. Backing up after a long day in the breakaway would be coupled with the additional desire of the peloton to gain back lost time.
The parcours was tougher than the opening day, the wind was still blowing but the temperature had dropped a little - my Garmin read a comfortable 41 degrees Celsius at the start.
Rolling out of Mitchelton Winery it was apparent that another breakaway could steal the day. Small roads and crosswinds for the opening kilometres could have proved make-or-break. I stayed at the front and despite following a number of early moves, it all came back together.
The conditions were tough and so staying up the front was the safest place to be but also required using a lot of energy. Perhaps I was too nervous in my attempts to stay out of trouble because I averaged over 380Watts for the first 70km. The legs felt good and while I got tailed off in the final part of the big climb midway through the stage, there was a group just behind me. No stress; back it off and catch back on the descent.
A number of breakaways were away all day however, the Huon Salmon-Genesys team were strong enough to contain them. Even with three Australian National Team riders off the front (Nathan Haas, Jay McCarthy and Simon Clarke) the gap never got out of control.
Coming into the final finishing circuit, there were plenty of riders unaware of what was to come. There were two riders away passing through the finish-line who still had more than a minute gap.
It wouldn't be a race in Victoria if we didn't encounter at least one wooden, 'pick-a-plank' bridge and there were two of them. Race organisers covered the normally dangerous bridges with rubber mats but one rider still crashed. Enter panic mode as we encountered the bridges well outside the 3km-to-go mark. We chased back to the front however, the fall caused chaos.
About 30 of us finished just behind stage winner Luke Davison and second-place Will Walker but it appears organisers gave the same time to everyone who entered the circuit with the main group. I kept my top-ten overall spot but dropped to seventh.
A huge feed back at the hotel to replenish the near 4,000 calories burned and hopefully I can pull out a huge ride tomorrow on Arthurs Seat. It's going to be a big task to stay up there but my Satalyst-Giant team are fully committed to supporting me. It's been a great tour so far and I'll be gunning to end it on a high.
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