It may only be his second day back in a serious race following his acrimonious split with Omega Pharma-Lotto and the ensuing six months of down time, but Matt Lloyd was out to prove that his competitiveness has not depreciated during the second stage of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.
He may not have won Thursday's stage, which finished in Geelong, but Lloyd, who is riding for the Australian National Team, was still able to finish with a smile on his face.
"The happiness you get from not only being able to race and enjoying pushing yourself, I've noticed over the last couple of days that you forget about that, you don't worry about how painful it is sometimes," Lloyd said.
"It just feels good to be among the guys and enjoying the camaraderie, the things that cycling is all about – it's been really nice."
After cranking back into action and getting day one out of his system, Lloyd was back in near-full swing over the latter half of Wednesday's stage, even claiming six points on the final KOM of the day, at Perdisat, a climb some riders described as "murder".
"Today was a lot better than yesterday, which I expected," Lloyd explained post-race. "When it comes to the shorter, sharper intensity that you can't really simulate in training, the characteristics of the course have been good.
"It's got a lot of flat stuff, so you can get the aerobic [work] going as well, but also a lot of shorter stuff as well to stimulate the system. The last half of today was nice, I’m feeling a lot better, as opposed to yesterday, it was a huge difference.
"So come the weekend, the system should be functioning correctly."
In the run-up to the event, Lloyd admitted that his focus is on the Sun Tour's queen stage which features three laps over Arthurs Seat on the Mornington Peninsula – a three kilometre climb with a gradient of between eight and 10 per cent which doubles on some of the bends. Needless to say that after Thursay’s effort, that focus has only intensified.
"When it comes to Saturday, you can really put the hammer down - that's what we're looking forward to," Lloyd said. "...Saturday is going to be the focal point."
As a sports journalist and producer since 1997, Jane has covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games, rugby league, motorsport, cricket, surfing, triathlon, rugby union, and golf for print, radio, television and online. However her enduring passion has been cycling.
Jane is a former Australian Editor of Cyclingnews from 2011 to 2013 and continues to freelance within the cycling industry.
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