After the last stage of the 2005 Jayco Herald Sun Tour, which finished with a Criterium around Lygon Street, Melbourne, Ag2r's Simon Gerrans still couldn't believe his achievement. "To win here in my home-town race... well it doesn't get much better than this," he told Cyclingnews' John Trevorrow on the line. "The guys did a perfect job for me. They left me up the front of the bunch away from all the trouble."
Gerrans' winning lead, which he achieved in an impressive time trial up Mt Dandenong on Thursday, remained untouched on the last day of racing. "The break was not a worry for us, because none of those riders were up on general classification," the Aussie added. Asked if he already realised what he'd done, Gerrans replied, "It's just sensational. It's hard to comprehend right now... it might take a couple of days to settle in. A few drinks tonight will make it a bit easier."
Second-placed Dominique Perras was of course disappointed to see the jersey gone. "It is disappointing to get so close to winning a race as big as the Herald Sun Tour," the Canadian said. "But I gave it everything I had and it is no disgrace losing to a quality rider such as Simon!"
VIS Jayco rider Hilton Clarke won the final stage in the three-men sprint of a breakaway and thereby took the sprinter's jersey off Francaise des Jeux's Baden Cooke. "This is absolutely brilliant," Clarke said. "To win the final stage is great but to take the Green Jersey off Cookie is unbelievable. I was a few points behind Cookie last night and I said to him, over a coffee, that he should let me win but he wouldn't be in it. Cookie is sprinting well so I thought I would be better off trying to get away."
Matthew Goss (Australia) finished second today, with Chris Jongewaard (Savings and Loans) coming in for third. The trio was able to hold its lead until the very end. "I was the weakest out there, the other two were really drilling it," commented Clarke about the break. "I was always nervous about the peloton. I don't know how many times I have ridden up Lygon Street, but today was certainly the fastest."
AG2r team boss John Beasley was very satisfied with his team's result. "Simon was keen to give some young Australians the opportunity to join the French boys we had coming out and the result has just been fantastic," Beasley said. One of the Aussies joining the French Continental team in Australia was Mitch Docker, and he was proud to be given the opportunity to do so. "I was rapt to be able to ride in this team and support Simon," Docker said, who finished at two minutes off his teammate Gerrans on final general classification. "I must admit I was surprised to finish so high up in a race of this class."
Peter Hatton from team Australia, who also achieved a great result by placing fifth on GC and winning the Young rider's classification, proved to himself that his future may well lie in cycling. "Before this week I did not believe in myself but now I have gained a lot more confidence," Hatton said. "It's been a great week for me. I am so happy to be wearing a jersey. Today was the hardest day for me - the last ten laps were really hard. But I think I will now have a real go at road cycling next year, perhaps in the US or Europe, but at the moment I don't really know."
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