21-year-old Brighton born Felix English (Rapha-Condor JTL) announced on stage at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour team presentation that he was targeting the white jersey and top five at the race. He duly delivered on the tight technical prologue course as he finished fourth, just 1.7 seconds off victor Jack Bauer (Garmin Sharp), and collected the white jersey. Mission accomplished.
"I loved it, it was a great course. I've never done a race like that before with the crowd. It had a bit of everything, corners, straights, which was good," English told Cyclingnews before today's stage.
Having spent the summer in Australia racing and training, English had already tasted success in 2014 as he took out the sprinters green jersey at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic and came into the Herald Sun Tour knowing he could back up his words.
"I thought I could do it. I've been training hard for the last few weeks and I knew the numbers were good. Obviously I haven't really done this kind of event before or raced with this standard of field before but I'm really happy," he said.
One the cycling hotspots in Australia is the Victorian town of Bendigo where English has been training with past and present professionals in preparation for the race.
"I came out here on November 20th and was in Bendigo for five weeks and then I rode the bay crit series. I went back to Bendigo for four weeks to get ready for this.
"I've been training with Darren Lapthorne and Robbie Hucker from Drapac and Zac Dempster and Scott McGrory as well actually," he said.
English lost the young riders jersey on Stage 1 of the Herald Sun Tour as the race picked up on the Cat 1 climb, forcing a selection which saw the peloton cut in half. However English will fancy his chances on the flat stages to come as he admitted that hills are not his strong point. "We'll try our best, the focus is more on stage wins and I'm not quite sure how I'll do on the climbs but I'm doing a lot better than last year so fingers crossed," he explained.
While up on stage for the hot seat podium on Wednesday's prologue, English was at one point just a tenth of a second off the stage win. English knew where that time was lost and on the start line of Stage 1 joked about sweating it over such fine margins.
"There is this one corner in mind, the first one, which I went around really fast but I touched the brakes and panicked right at the end and that was my tenth of a second there."
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