Hometown hero Rolfe rides to victory
2012 Subaru National Road Series leader Mark O’Brien has retained his overall lead in the FKG Tour of Toowoomba after his Budget Forklifts team claimed stage three’s teams time trial on Saturday.
However it was the RBS Morgans team that overshadowed Budgets efforts, with local man Darren Rolfe taking out Saturday afternoon’s stage four road race.
Rolfe raced away from the main peloton inside the final 10kilometres of the 117km stage to claim an emotional win in front of his parochial home crowd.
“I’m absolutely stoked,” said Rolfe. “This is probably the best thing because everyone hears about what you do overseas and to come home and win in front of your home crowd is just awesome."
The expectant father revealed the thought that he had a baby due any day now drove him to the line.
“That’s all I could think of in that last 10km and that definitely got me through, for the family,” said Rolfe. “We’re trying to get her to hold out until at least 3pm tomorrow but we’ll see how we go,” he said.
Rolfe's RBS teammate Ben Hill cliamed second place, sealing his lead in the King of the Mountain classification along the way. The pair’s efforts, along with a strong team time trial, has RBS sitting in third place in the overall teams classification.
Brenton Jones (Team Torq) claimed third in the road race in what has been an emotional tour for the 20-year-old.
During last year’s Tour of Toowoomba, Jones was involved in a serious crash which left him with suspected bleeding on the brain and a fractured skull, with the Victorian being place in an induced coma for a week.
“I have had mixed emotions leading up to the Tour and my parents were saying ‘oh should you race, should you not?’,” said Jones.
“(But) I had my mind set that I was definitely going to come back here and race (so) to come out with third place after my serious accident last year is just unreal so I’m very happy,” Jones added.
The day began with a teams time trial which saw a great battle between front runners Genesys-Wealth and Budget Forklifts, with Genesys forced to lift following the withdrawal of two-time defending Tour champion Pat Shaw yesterday.
The extra manpower proved to be a blessing with Budget coming out nine seconds victors, with Genesys Wealth and Jayco VIS finishing the 16kilometre course just one fifth of a second apart.
At the conclusion of stage three, Mark O’Brien retained the tour lead with a 34 second gap ahead of Genesys Wealth rider Jai Crawford. O’Brien’s teammate Michael Cupitt retained third position just one second further back.
Stage four’s road race began in blustery conditions with riders being blown into the gutter for most of the first 50kilometres.
Riders were keen to gain an early break with a group of five riders off the front inside the first ten kilometres, with others struggling to keep with the main bunch due to the conditions.
The first major attack of the day came at the 15 kilometre mark, with seven riders making their move following the first sprint section on the course, establishing lead of one minute over the peloton by the 25 kilometre mark.
With no cover from the strong cross-winds along the very narrow and flat road, the conditions had begun to take their toll with the field splintered into three bunches 50 kilometres into the stage.
As the riders reached the first rise of the course, the peloton gathered momentum and it wasn’t long before the break was reeled in after a gallant 35 kilometres in front.
Almost immediately there was a counter attack by a group of twelve riders which included Cupitt and Hill. The group worked well together over the next 35 kilometres before the peloton absorbed the group at the 90 kilometre mark.
With 30 kilometres to go it was Luke Fetch (Search2Retain) and Rolfe who made the stage’s decisive move as the Budget Forklifts team began to tire. The pair quickly created a 13s second gap with Jonathan Lovelock (Genesys Wealth) and Jordan Kerby (Jayco Honey-Shotz) trying in vain to reel in the pair.
Rolfe managed to shake Fetch shortly after, enabling the hometown-hero the ride final 10 kilometres solo to claim line honours and a raucous reception from the large Toowoomba crowd.
After the days two stages, Genesys Wealth now lead the overall team rankings, overtaking Budget Forklifts who slip to second, 22seconds behind the leaders. RBS Morgans sit third.
Mark O’Brien (TBF) is first on the individual rankings with a solid day from teammate Michael Cupitt (TBF) moving him into second place, four seconds ahead of Jai Crawford (GEN).
Tomorrow's fifth and final stage of the tour is a criterium around Queens Park, Toowoomba at 1.00pm.
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