Hill & Wells victorious in Gunnedah, O'Brien & Corset retain lead
Mark O'Brien (Budget Forklifts) and Ruth Corset (Pensar-Hawk) retained their overall tour leads after day three of the Santos North West Tour on Saturday.
Mark O’Brien (Budget Forklifts) and Ruth Corset (Pensar-Hawk) have retained their overall tour leads after day three of the Santos North West Tour on Saturday.
In stage four results, RBS Morgans rider Ben Hill claimed a memorable solo victory ahead of James Boal (John West) and William Lind (Suzuki/Trek), whilst in the women’s race, Specialized’s Kimberley Wells took line honours ahead of Jane Walker (QSM) and Tour leader Ruth Corset.
The 138km stage three for men began at the top of Siding Springs Observatory, before winding down through the township of Coonabarabran and over the Liverpool Plains toward Gunnedah.
The attacks came early with a group of 25 including the podium finishers plus Michael Cupitt (Budget Forklifts), Brodie Talbot (Racing Kangaroos) and Nathan Earle (Genesys), breaking away in the opening kilometres.
The group established a lead of three minutes over the peloton before it splintered in the final stages, with Hill racing away from the lead group in the final two kilometres of the race to take the solo win.
“I’m feeling pretty good, my goal was to try and win a stage at this tour and so now I’ve done that I’m really happy,” Hill said.
The women’s road race came down to a bunch sprint, with Specialized’s Kimberley Wells claiming line honours ahead of Jane Walker (QSM) and Tour leader Ruth Corset.
A warm and sunny day greeted riders for the stage, a welcome change from the freezing conditions in stage three. The field raced out of Coonabarabran, out onto the Liverpool Plains before arriving in the township of Gunnedah to a rousing reception from local supporters.
The bunch remained together for the majority of the 111 kilometre race, with riders making small breaks for intermediate sprint and QOM points before being reeled in by the peloton.
It was an action packed final 10 kilometres with the bunch taking advantage of the closed roads heading into the centre of Gunnedah.
And while Pensar-Hawk looked in a prime position to lead Corset out for another stage win, Wells pounced at the right time with Walker following closely on her wheel.
“The length of the stage was brutal, there were lots of rolling hills, lots of surging and attacks from all the different teams which was just really hurting everyone’s legs,” said Corset, who claimed stage three on Friday.
“(But) My team did a great job getting me to the front and I am confident they can do the same tomorrow,” added Corset, 35, who will look to seal the Tour in the final stage on Sunday.
Stage winner Kimberley Wells, 40, was ecstatic with her victory.
“I am actually in shock because I didn’t think it was going to happen,” said Wells. “I was hoping for maybe a top ten and I just had a really good wheel and the next minute I was coming down to the finishing straight.
“When we could see the finishing banner we had a bit more room on the road, it was hectic.
“I am over the moon, this is by far my best result ever,” she added.
In the individual classifications, O'Brien holds a 35 second advantage over Hill, with Jai Crawford (Genesys-Wealth) a further seven seconds back.
Ruth Corset extended her lead in the women's classification over Miranda Giffiths (Holden Cycling) to 37 seconds, while Lisa Jacobs (CCCC) is third, 1:07 behind Corset.
The Tour wraps up in on Sunday with stage five’s road race from Gunnedah to Tamworth.
The Tour is the third event for both men and women in the 2012 Subaru National Road Series.