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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Launceston winner for Tour of Tas valley stage

Wesley Sulzberger claims victory in the Derwent Valley
stage of the Tour of Tasmania today.
BATTLING wind, rain and hail, Launceston rider Wesley Sulzberger clinched the Tour of Tasmania’s second stage from Strathgordon to New Norfolk earlier today, holding on as his initial four-man breakaway was whittled down to just two riders for the final sprint.

Sulzberger outpaced 18-year-old Ben O’Connor on the ride into New Norfolk at the end of a challenging 119.9km course from the banks of Lake Pedder. Ahead of his home town stage tomorrow (Wednesday), Sulzberger was pleased with the victory, alongside a fifth-place finish for brother Bernard.

“I was actually hoping to go up the road tomorrow because my mum and dad and sister and mother-in-law will be there watching,” Sulzberger said after the race. “So a day early, but I’m really happy with the win!” The finishing line was in central New Norfolk, in Pioneer Avenue alongside Arthur Square.

The start at Strathgordon this morning.
Sulzberger joined the breakaway of O’Connor, Jordan Davies and Darcy Ellerm-Norton just after the 23km mark, as the group worked together to form an imposing three minute time gap. “There were a lot of attacks early on, and then a group of three riders established and I decided to go across and see if it stuck. There were just four of us, and we were in for the long haul!”

While Davies and Ellerm-Norton dropped back to the peloton on the descent into New Norfolk, Sulzberger and O’Connor held off the chasing pack to finish almost a minute ahead of the third-placed Raphael Freinstein. “I thought once we hit over 2.00 minutes, and if we could keep increasing the gap, then hopefully I could come away at the end with at least 1.50, and with the time bonuses I could be in the leader’s jersey,” Sulzberger said.

The peloton pedaling past Pedder.
The final 48 second time gap wasn’t enough though to force a change in the yellow jersey, with Ben Dyball retaining the lead going into stage three. A second storyline for stage two was the emergence of young O’Connor, who matched it with the eventual winner throughout the race and only to be pipped to the finish line.

“I started racing in January at the start of this year, so it’s been a pretty big progression since then,” the West Australian rider said. “I used to be a cross-country runner, but I always watched Tour de France on television and found it fascinating – so I just gave it a go!”

After two trying stages in arduous Tasmanian conditions, the riders will turn their attention to a 93km road race from Launceston to Grindewald on Wednesday.

Interesting statistics from the day include:

  • Average speed of the winner: 39.9 km/h
  • Number of starters: 103
  • Riders finishing out of time limits: 2
  • Riders abandoning the race: 2

  • See the video highlights here
  • More great photos can be seen here
  • Another video by one of the teams competing

The Tour of Tasmania making its way out of Maydena today.

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