Race report

Jai Hindley doubles up on Mount Buller with second Sun Tour win

Jayco Herald Sun Tour

After stage two’s summit finish atop Falls Creek, today the peloton were faced with the second mountain top finish on Mount Buller. With a gradient of over six percent for 16 kilometres, the testing ramps were destined to shake up the GC battle. The team started the day with Jai Hindley in the race leader’s jersey and Michael Storer also well positioned in the overall fight, sitting in fifth place on GC.

It was a nervous start to the stage with numerous attacks and the threat of crosswinds making for a fast and frenetic opening ten kilometres. A breakaway of eight soon established itself at the head of the race and the team took control at the front of the peloton, allowing the gap to reach a maximum of three minutes and 40 seconds.

Alberto Dainese, Max Kanter and Asbjørn Kragh Andersen contributed to the chase on the flat lands and as the peloton began the climb of Mount Buller the gap to the break was down to under three minutes. A steady but strong tempo was then set on the front by Robert Power and Florian Stork, with both riders managing to pull back several attacks before Michael Storer took over proceedings in the finale.

A headwind on the opening three quarters of the climb meant it was a larger group than expected that approached the finale but Storer was steadfast and brought race leader Hindley into a good position under the flamme rouge. At that moment, young rider jersey wearer Sebastian Berwick put in a stinging attack and Hindley was the only rider capable of following on the steep finishing ramps.

Once in the wheel, Hindley was able to have a brief moment of recovery before delivering his own attack in the closing 200 metres, charging home for his second stage win of the race.

As a result of bonus seconds on the line, Hindley now leads Berwick by ten seconds on GC ahead of tomorrow’s final stage in Melbourne, while Storer also occupies a top ten spot in seventh place.

“The guys were incredible, they rode on the front from the first kilometre,” praised Hindley at the finish. “I’m just so relieved I could pay off all their hard work so this is a pretty special one. I’ve known Storer for yonks so to have him ride in the final like that for me was unreal. He was phenomenal, as were the other guys today. Hats off to Seb Berwick, he threw the kitchen sink at me on the final climb and was super strong. It’s really special to be wearing the leader’s jersey at the Sun Tour. This is the third time I’ve done this race now so for an Australian guy to race here is special and to wear the jersey into the final stage tomorrow – I’m a bit lost for words.”

Team Sunweb coach Luke Roberts added: “Today we had the second mountain top finish up to Mount Buller which is a difficult 16 kilometre climb. Our biggest priority today was to defend Jai’s GC lead. It was an aggressive race in the beginning and eventually an eight rider group got away and our guys took control. The other teams left the work up to us today and the guys had to work really hard for it but we rode the almost perfect race on the front all day. In the final Jai followed his rivals who were competing for the podium. Berwick put in a good attack and Jai could go with him and finished it off for the stage win. It was great work by all the team today so full credit to them for not only securing the yellow jersey but also picking up another stage win.”

Results

Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 HINDLEY Jai Team Sunweb 3:01:25 14
2 BERWICK Sebastian St George Continental Cycling Team ,, 5
3 VINE Jay Nero Continental 0:09 3
17 STORER Michael Team Sunweb 0:53 -
26 STORK Florian Team Sunweb 2:23 -
45 POWER Robert Team Sunweb 9:37 -
55 KANTER Max Team Sunweb 13:54 -
76 KRAGH ANDERSEN Asbjørn Team Sunweb 16:50 -
77 DAINESE Alberto Team Sunweb 16:52 -