While the visual spectacle was Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) raising in arms in celebrations of victory at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, much attention was fixated on the sound of a high speed crash on the other side of the road where Brenton Jones (Drapac) was sliding over the line on his left-shoulder in fifth place.
The fast finishing Sam Witmitz (BudgetForklifts) was streaming up the right-hand side of the road on the outside of Jones in front of the podium, the duo touched causing Jones to fall while Witmitz surged to third place, having remained upright.
"We don't like to see crashes in sprint finishes because the amount of damage to the body is probably where it's at its highest due to the speeds," a repentant Witmitz said. "I was involved in the crash with Brenton as I was coming from a long way back and because I was coming quicker and hard against the fence, Brenton was slowly dying towards the line and by the time I got through it was too late."
Jones described the crash as a "racing incident, it's just the joys of sprinting", and added his version of events.
"We were coming up the finish and Sammy Witmitz was coming a couple of kilometres faster than me and maybe half a metre there he decided to come underneath me and my left cheek just got taken out by his right hand shifter and I hit the deck after that crossed the line in sixth which is not bad on my arse," Jones said.
Witmitz was visibly sorry for playing any part in the incident, particularly as Jones is a friend.
"I think he actually clipped his handlebars on my knee as I came past which flipped him. It's devastating as me and Brenton are good mates," Witmitz said. "You don't want to see anyone crash, let alone your mate so hopefully a speedy recovery for him.
"I think the saying is 'you're not a real bike rider until you've crashed three times' and we all know what it's like [to crash] and I really feel for him. I'm happy that I am in one piece but hopefully he's not too bad and can line up tomorrow. I think it's going to be another sprint stage into Nagambie so all the best to him.
While last year's finish into Nagambie was a fast and flat affair, the 2015 edition of the finish saw the riders approach the town on the right hand side of the road and then make a 180 degree turn with 400 metres to the finish which Witmitz attributed the slower sprinting speed to.
"It was around 65km/h I think, I was pretty well wound out on 55-11 [gearing]. It was pretty still conditions but having the U-turn at 400m to go, that slowed up the bunch a lot so it was like a standing start at the turn. If it was a straight run, you can hit speeds of 70-75km/h but poor 'BJ' will have some skin off but hopefully he's right to line up tomorrow.
"I am actually a bit devastated as I was in a really good position before the U-turn and I sort of got bumped out and didn't start the sprint until about twelfth wheel and I was coming home so much faster than everyone else but that's sprinting," Witmitz said of his personal ambitions for the stage.
With tomorrow's third stage of the race featuring the same finish, Witmitz is aiming for the first win of the season after the dress rehearsal of today.
"I've always envied the mountain climbers because you're either good or you're not," he said. "In sprinting, there are so many variable and a lot of luck involved. I didn't have a whole lot of luck today but its great to be on the podium but we'll reassess and sit down and nut down another plan tomorrow that will see us on the top step of the podium."
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