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Tattersall's Cup #5: Tour of the Tamar (NE)

Australia, August 27, 2003


Tighello wins final race, series to comeback man McLachlan

By Rod Morris

Robert Tighello drove the early breakaway with thoughts of a win
Photo ©: Shane Goss

The love affair that Victorian rider Robert Tighello has established with the Tattersall's Cup cycling series continued yesterday with victory in the Tour of the Tamar. Tighello (28) won the third annual Tour of the Tamar, which brought to a close the eighth annual Tattersall's Cup - a predominantly Victorian series, which now includes a leg in Tasmania.

Tighello however failed in the cruelest possible fashion to win his third Tattersall's Cup, when he was beaten in a countback by Barcelona Olympian Robert McLachlan. In the four races leading up to the Tour of the Tamar, Tighello had placed second behind McLachlan twice, while the Canberra cyclist also won last week's Tour of the La Trobe Valley.

Tighello was part of an eight man breakaway group that split from the peleton almost 40 km into the 150 km race.

In a stylish finish, Tighello out-sprinted 18-year-old Tasmanian Ryan Sullivan, who is quickly making quite a name for himself on a world scale, and third was Uruguay rider Jorge Libanotti, who with his countryman Hector Morales have enjoyed a five week Australian campaign racing in the Tattersall's Cup, adding some international flavour to the event.

Tighello is without doubt the most successful cyclist the Tattersall's Cup series has produced. Since the event started in 1996, Tighello's record includes:

1996 - 3rd
1997 - 1st
1999 - 3rd
2000 - 1st
2003 - 2nd

Tasmanian under 19 rider Ryan Sullivan was a strong member of the breakaway group
Photo ©: Shane Goss

Tighello entered the Tour of the Tamar 10-points behing McLachlan and under the sliding-points scale system the series operates under needed to be 10 positions better than McLachlan to snatch overall victory.

"There was a pre-meditated plan from last week on this race would pan out," Tighello said. "I knew the course reasonably well from past experiences here and knew that if the right moves were made at the right times, then we would be hard to beat."

McLachlan was not part of the breakaway bunch and was not in sight of the leaders till the closing 10 km when the peloton sensed the urgency. At one stage the gap between the leading group and the main bunch grew to 3.45 minutes but in the desperate closing stages, the margin was reduced considerably.

"I am disappointed I didn't go with Robert (Tighello) in the early break, but on the other hand I feel so tremendously lucky to have won the overall series," McLachlan said.

After representing Australia in the road race at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, McLachlan retired from cycling, but returned in February this year. His record of three wins from his first three starts in this year's Tattersall's Cup and then overall victory, suggests even bigger success might not be far away.

"I'm not making any plans or bold statements, I just want to see what happens over the coming months," he said. "Obviously while I'm riding like this, I'm enjoying it, but good form can leave you as quickly as it arrives."

Hector Morales, a visiting Uruguayan speaks very little English - but rides a bike like a master. Entering the Tour of the Tamar holding a handy lead in the Sprint Championship, Morales went on a rampage winning almost every intermediate sprint on offer to eventually win the title by a whopping 34 points from Tighello.

Morales also reeled in Chris Bradford in the King of the Mountain Championship, turning a 16-point deficit into a 16-point victory. And just to cap off a sensational visit to Australia, the 21-year-old Morales was rewarded with the Sid Patterson Young Rider Award.

How it unfolded

By Matt Conn

The main field in pursuit on the Tour of the Tamar
Photo ©: Shane Goss

Clear skies and a slight breeze made conditions ideal for the 2003 Tour of the Tamar, held around Northern Tasmania's Tamar Valley. As the riders crossed the flood swollen Esk River to start their 150km journey back to Launceston, there was a last chance to admire the scenery before the race-proper commenced after 6.00km.

As is always the case with the final round of the Tattersall's cup, there were plenty of riders willing to start racing at the earliest opportunity. With the overall series up for grabs and a prize list of $6000 on offer, this was not going to be a casual affair.

The opening sprint at Legana (11.2km) was taken out by Tim Buchanan (ACT) from Troy Glennan (NSW) and David Kemp (QLD). Kemp was one of several riders in the field just back from the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China, looking to make the most of ten days at altitude.

Even without some of the killer climbs of earlier rounds, the Tasmanian race is run over a very undulating course, and once the riders hit the first KOM at 13.7km, there was hardly a kilometer of flat road before the finish. On the opening climb of the day, a break that was to determine the final outcome of the race took shape, but most notable of all was the absence of series leader, Robert McLachlan (ACT).

Robert McLachlan is happy after his tenth place won him overall honours from Robert Tighello
Photo ©: Shane Goss

Driving the breakaway was Victorian Robert Tighello, placed second in the overall standings and looking for his third overall Tattersall's Cup victory. Uruguayan rider, Jorge Libonatti had started the break and led the group over the KOM point at KM 16.6 (1. Libonatti, 2. Tighello, 3.Morales). With the assistance of countryman Hector Morales, the two riders froim uraguay took the second KOM points at Brady's Lookout (20km) with Tighello following the wheels in third.

While the move was forming at the front, KOM leader Chris Bradford (Vic) punctured and had an appalling wheel change which was to cost him not only his chance in the race, but the overall mountains title for the series.

It was on the descent into Exeter that the breakaway group increased slightly with the arrival of two Tasmanians, Ryan Sullivan and Nathan Clarke, along with Victorian junior John Clarke.

At km24 Morales took the sprint at Exeter from Libonatti, John Clarke had joined the front and claimed third place. The breakaway now numbered eight riders, comprised of Tighello, Dominic Gatto (Vic), Morales, Libonatti, Sullivan, Clarke, Nathan Clarke, and David Kemp and had a lead of 30 seconds over the main bunch who were still making some attempt to reel in this group.

Km 40 Beaconsfield Sprint: 1. Morales, 2. Libonatti, 3. J. Clarke. (1m 43sec lead)

Km 57 Beaconsfield Sprint: 1. Morales, 2. Kemp

Hector Morales of Uruguay secures his lead in the points contest near Piper's river
Photo ©: Shane Goss

Morales was making the sprint competition his own and the other riders seemed content to save their energy and take turns claiming the minor places. As the leading eight passed Sidmouth (65km), it was Morales first, John Clarke second and Kemp third.

Three kilometers later as they the Batman Bride which joins the West Tamar to the eastern side of the river, the leaders had drawn their advantage out to 3min 55sec.

Km 74 Hillwood KOM: 1. Morales, 2. Kemp, 3. Sullivan.

The efforts of the breakaway were starting to take their toll on John Clarke who did not contest any of the sprints on the run into George Town.

Km 84 Bell Bay Power Station Sprint: 1. Morales, 2. Kemp, 3. Sullivan.

Km 85 George Town Golf Club Sprint: 1. Morales, 2. Kemp, 3. Tighello

Km 92 KOM: 1. Morales, 2. Kemp, 3. Sullivan

On the approach to the Volunteer Hill, John Clarke called it a day and was soon caught and passed by the main bunch, who were hovering around 3min 40sec.

Clarke retired from the race as his former breakaway companions crested the Volunteer with Tighello continuing to motivate the group with words of encouragement.

Km 98 Volunteer Hill KOM: 1. Morales, 2. Kemp, 3. Tighello.

As the roads opened up for the first time since Legana, the chasing group was more inclined to ride and the lead slowly started to come down. A number of riders tried their hand at breaking away, but there were enough members of the bunch happy to see the break stay away.

The action behind saw the time gap come back to 3 minutes in the 8km since the KOM and a further 20 seconds over the next 20km.

Km 117 KOM: 1. Morales, 2. Sullivan, 3. Kemp. (Lead 2min 40sec)

Km 122 KOM: 1. Morales, 2. Kemp, 3. Gatto (Lead 1min 55sec)

As the lead group made the turn South at Mount Direction, they made showed the first signs of wanting to race each other. With the gap down to 1min 25sec, the remaining 30 riders in the bunch were still in with a chance over the tough 20km to the finish.

Robert McLachlan missed the break that went away some twenty minutes into the race
Photo ©: Shane Goss

At the second last prime of the day, Tighello had recognised the need to leave the tired members of the group behind, and was first across the line at Km 132, with Sullivan second and Gatto third.

Nathan Clarke and Kemp were tailed off on the climb out of Mount Direction but fought back, only to be dropped on the next small climb.

Tighello had ridden a smart race to date and began using the small rises to launch attacks. Of the remaining five riders, only Sullivan was strong enough to follow each time and it looked like the local advantage was playing into his favour.

The last sprint of the day went to Morales, who had sealed his overall victory in that competition with a dominating ride in the breakaway, with Sullivan second and Gatto third.

On the last climb of the day at 2km to go, Tighello made another strong move and only Sullivan was able to follow, but this time the two went on with it and moved clear of the remaining three riders.

Sullivan may have had the local advantage, but Tighello had ten years of racing experience over the young Tasmanian and was able to put himself in second position, forcing Sullivan to lead out the sprint.

In the end, Tighello had enough time to sit up and salute the crowd, beating Sullivan by a good length.

Shortly after, Libonatti rolled across the line ahead of Morales, making it an excellent day out for the riders from Urguay. Gatto finished fifth, just ahead of the first riders from the chasing group, Shaun Higgerson (NSW), Matt Goold (Vic) and Richard Moffatt (NSW).

All eyes were then focused on the arrival of series leader Robert McLachlan, who finished just behind breakaway rider David Kemp, to finish in 10th place.

The 90 degree turn into the finish straight managed to catch out the main bunch with Luke Weir and Brett Aitken amongst those that hit the deck. It was reported by SCN-TV news that Aitken not only ended up in hospital, but wrote off his bike as well.


Images by Shane Goss/


1 Robert Tighello
2 Ryan Sullivan
3 Jorge Libonatti
4 Hector Morales
5 Dominic Gatto
6 Shaun Higgerson
7 Matthew Goold
8 Richard Moffatt
9 David Kemp
10 Robert McLachlan
11 Brad Norton
12 Simon Walker
13 Peter Milostic
14 Joel Pearson
15 Trent Stevenson
16 Tim Decker
17 George Vallins
18 Steven Williams
19 Colin Thornton
20 Gareth Atkins
21 David Hiley
22 Andrew Graham
23 Chris Carr
24 Robert Lyte
25 Nick Kiraly
26 Garry Parsons
27 Stephen Rosendall
28 Jason Andersch
29 Kharne Hammersley
30 Robert Boag
31 Daniel Brickell
32 Wes Sulzberger
33 Troy Glennan
34 Jason Bellchambers
35 Simon Price
36 Mark Hooper
37 Matthew Rice
38 Luke Weir
39 Brett Aitken
40 Nathan Clarke
41 Daniel Burtt
42 Justin Davis
43 Damien Harbison
44 Mitchell Vervaart
45 Chris Bradford
46 Tim Buchanan
47 Ed Knowles
48 Craig McCartney
49 Steven Sansonetti
50 Warren Nelson
51 Rhys Smith
52 Chris Fry
53 Shayne Kirby
Overall standings
1 Robert McLachlan          82 pts
2 Robert Tighello           82
3 Domenic Gatto             76
4 Garry Parsons             61
5 Shaun Higgerson           60
6 Richard Moffatt           57
7 Peter Milostic            52
8 Luke Weir                 51
9 Jorge Libonatti           47
10 Brett Aitken             44
11 Shayne Kirby             43
12 Trent Stevenson          43
13 Christopher  Bradford    38
14 Matthew Goold            38
15 Colin Thornton           35
16 Ashley Baines            34
17 Tim Decker               33
18 Michael Tolhurst         33
19 Simon Walker             33
20 Robert Lyte              30
21 William Walker           27
22 Ryan Sullivan            24
23 Bradley Norton           24
24 Andrew Graham            23
25 Luke Bettany             22
26 Matthew Rex              21
27 Craig McCartney          20
28 Keiren Cameron           19
29 Robert Boag              18
30 Nick Kiraly              18
31 Tony Mann                18
32 Christopher Carr         17
33 Mark Heintz              17
34 David Kemp               17
35 Casey Munro              17
36 Samuel Rix               17
Sprint standings
1 Hector Morales            54 pts
2 Trent Stevenson           20
3 Robert Tighello           20
4 Robert McLachlan          17
5 Christopher Bradford      15
6 Jorge Libonatti           15
7 David Kemp                13
8 Luke Bettany               9
9 Troy Glennan               9
10 Tim Decker                8
11 Andrew Graham             8
12 Ryan Sullivan             7
13 Colin Thornton            6
14 Domenic Gatto             6
15 Ashley Baines             4
16 Jonathon Clarke           4
17 Richard Moffatt           4
18 Tim Buchanan              3
19 Christopher Fry           3
KOM Standings
1 Hector Morales            49 pts
2 Christopher Bradford      33
3 Craig Gordon              19
4 Jorge Libonatti           19
5 Tim Decker                17
6 Richard Moffatt           16
7 Robert Tighello           14
8 David Kemp                14
9 Kieren Cameron            12
10 Tony Mann                12
11 Luke Bettany             12
12 Domenic Gatto            11
13 Robert McLachlan         11
14 Troy Glennan             10
15 Ashley Baines             8
16 Ryan Sullivan             7
17 Steve Cunningham          6
18 Peter Milostic            6
19 William Walker            6
20 Brett Aitken              3
21 Gareth Atkins             3