With stage one of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour heading straight up a category one climb, it was an intimidating affair for the majority of the 89 riders who started in Mt Macedon but not so for Rob Power.
The 19-year-old, taking part in the race on the Australian U23 team, skipped away from Brendan Canty (Budget Forklifts) in the final 20m of the climb, which featured gradients between 10-12%, to claim the first KOM points of the day, showcasing his climbing talents. He then took maximum points on the second climb of the day up Mt Alexander to move to 48 points, 20 ahead of Canty.
The opportunistic and determined riding by Power paid off as he claimed the mountains and most aggressive jerseys on the podium in Bendigo.
"It just worked out," Power said of taking the lead in the KOM jersey. "I was expecting it to come together at the finish but the peloton sat up and it was an awesome ride by Cam Meyer today. He did everything to a T and attacked at the right time and got the gap. Everyone was trying to get him back but he just kept away and pulled away towards the finish."
Power was part of a select 21-rider group that distanced the peloton on the Macedon climb and kept growing its advantage to the finish line 146km later. With the peloton sitting up once it was clear the catch wouldn't be made, the majority of the riders rolled in over 25 minutes down on stage winner Meyer.
While Meyer and Joe Cooper (Avanti) were jostling for the win, Power was ensconced in the chasing group behind, finishing safely in 13th place, ten seconds down.
"It was a tough race from the start with that first climb the guys went really tough up there and we formed a little group and lucky we all stayed away," Power said of the opening to stage one. "Mt Alexander was pretty tough as well. I got half-way up there and I was like 'wow' it was a hard climb and I got the KOM which was pretty cool.
While harbouring aspirations for the win, Power explained his teammate to be at GreenEdge next season, simply rode the perfect finale to claim stage honours.
"I was trying to get into moves when they were going but it's obviously hard when it's just one of you. GreenEdge and Avanti had a fair few guys there so it was tough but I did the best I could and when Cam went I tried to get across but just didn't make it."
Well placed on GC, 12th at 29 seconds to Meyer, Power's next opportunity to drastically move up the standings is likely to be Sunday's queen stage to Arthurs Stage free.
"They are the big teams here [Avanti and GreenEdge] so it is up to those guys and its GreenEdge's job to control the race now but every opportunity we have we'll have a crack at it," he said. "It's going to be a tough few days but on the final day around Arthurs Seat, I am looking forwards to it. It's a tough course and it should be interesting."
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