October 3, Stage 5: Westbury – Great Lake 79km
Rhys Gillett (African Wildlife Safaris) has won the fifth stage of the Caterpillar Tour of Tasmania from Westbury to Great Lake ahead of Drapac duo William Walker and Bernard Sulzberger. Gillett scored his first Subaru National Road Series (NRS) victory in fine fashion atop the 1200m high climb as snow started to fall soon after rider’s crossed the finish line.
Gillett attributed his victory to the help he received from his African Wildlife Safaris teammates.
“I had all my teammates around me, they rode awesomely today,” said Gillett. “There were some points when we were cruising along at 65 to 70 kilometres per hour on the flat and they just keep me up in front and out of trouble.”
Soon after the flag dropped the Huon-Genesys team were in control with a non-threatening 13 man breakaway being given a moderate leash. The Tasmanian team kept the break in check coming into the cat 1 KOM allowing Jack Haig to successfully defend his lead.
Whilst the GC contenders were busy sparring, Gillett bridged to the break on the final climb then outwitted them to take the stage.
“We had James [Rendall] in the initial break so the pressure was off for our team. One of the CharterMason guys tried to cross the gap and I went with him, but when he decided to go back to the bunch I kept going on my own.
“I got James to give one massive turn to increase the gap to the peloton, and as soon as the break started to pull away [from the peloton] I just sat up a bit.
“Coming into the finish, I hit the break with Walker and Sulzberger and drove it to the line,” Gillett remarked.
Jack Haig retained his 1:48 lead over Robbie Hucker (Drapac) but it was the aggressive riding by Brodie Talbot (Caterpillar) that paid off after he also bridged from the head of the peloton to the lead group on the final climb. In doing so he leapfrogged Darren Lapthorne (Drapac) on the overall classification and now sits in third, 2:29 behind Haig.
“The race was quite fast and hard [from the start], there were a lot of people attacking and trying to get away, but the boys did a really good job to control it,” explained Haig. “It was a lot of climbing today – it was pretty much one big mountain at the end that we all had to go up.
“We managed to keep it all together [in the peloton] until Brodie got away, and then he managed to [join the breakaway] and grab a bit more time on me.
“Nathan and Jai were attacking off our group to try and leapfrog Darren Lapthorne and Robbie Hucker and move up to second and third in general classification. We’ll probably see those tactics for the rest of the tour,” Haig quipped.
By winning the first intermediate sprint as the breakaway passed through Bracknell, Ben Grenda (Polygon) moved into equal first with Alexander Ray (Target Trek) for the sprint jersey, although Ray retains the lead on count back.
Karl Evans (Budget Forklifts) now moves into the king of the mountains lead after summiting the cat 1 climb ahead of his fellow escapees and Drapac Cycling overtook Huon-Genesys to lead the team classification be nearly a minute.
The Tour continues tomorrow with the 106km sixth stage from Ulverstone to Penguin via the infamous Gunns Plains climb. With a number of wet and technical roads for riders to ascend and descend, the stage could throw up many obstacles as Huon-Genesys go about another day defending yellow.