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56th Jayco Herald Sun Tour - 2.1
Australia, October 14-21, 2007
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Prologue - October 14: Jayco Herald Sun Classic, 60 minutes + 3 laps of a 1.7km circuit
Bundaberg boy Kemps burns it up in Bendigo
By John Trevorrow in Bendigo
Bundaberg's Aaron Kemps, riding for Swiss team Astana, provided a multi national flavour to a thrilling prelude to the 2007 Jayco Herald Sun Tour on the streets of Bendigo.
Making the most of the perfect conditions, Kemps was part of a nine man breakaway formed after just six laps of the testing 1.7-kilometre circuit and along with British rider, Tom Southam, was one of those who ensured that the peloton never bothered them thereafter.
"I felt pretty strong all day. There was never any pain in my legs up the climb and I'm aiming for another stage win," a clearly satisfied Kemps said after the win. "The boys are pretty motivated. It could be a good week for us."
One rider who tried really hard to take the stage was Geelong's Craig McCartney. He made the decisive move 2 ½ laps from the finish. The 27 year-old riding for the South Australian Savings and Loans squad split the breakaway of nine riders but just couldn't hold off the flying Queenslander Aaron Kemps and GB's Tom Southam. Just as those three moved clear there was a crash and Sulzberger and Jacques-Mayne hit the bitumen, causing the breakaway to split even further.
McCartney said that "It was a tough little circuit with a testing little climb up the back. I thought there would be a breakaway and so I kept near the front. Once we got clear I knew we could stay away. I hit them about four and a half laps to go but Kemps and the other guys chased me down pretty quickly so I went again. I got the gap and I had a bit of fortune with the other guys crashing but, hey, that's bike racing. My main role on this tour will be to look after Brett Aitken for the sprints and help out David Pell for the overall."
Southam was awarded the most aggressive rider award. The Bendigo resident knew the roads well and said that " I just knew it would split up today but I didn't feel particularly good. It was all about getting in the move with the right combination. And once we got clear that was it."
One rider the public came out to see was Stuart O'Grady, back racing for the first time since his injury. Initially, the Australian didn't think he was gonna be able to race again this year, following his crash in stage 8 of the Tour de France. But he proved to be one tough cookie and jumped back in the action in October, even though the first few minutes were a bit nerve-wracking. "I gotta tell you, the heart was pumping pretty hard and fast for the first ten minutes. This was my first real test since the Tour and I wanted to make sure I stayed out of trouble."
O'Grady achieved that by riding never further back than sixth position and explained that "When you haven't got form – you ride smart and that was what I was trying to do today. Just keeping out of trouble. It was a pretty technical little course, a couple of dangerous corners and the last thing I wanted to do was end up on my backside again."
O'Grady felt there were two victories to celebrate on this unofficial prologue. "I was very happy about today. Aaron [Kemps] might have won the race but that was a significant victory for me. I was pretty happy to just be out there and racing."
Another rider who had butterflies heading into the first day of the Sun Tour was Trent Lowe. "I was a bit nervous before the first crit I guess. I wanted to blow the cobwebs out a bit. But once the break went it all settled down and we had Joel (Pearson) up there which was good. Unfortunately he went down, but he's fine."
From here, Lowe expected things to just improve, saying that "The legs feel good and, hopefully, they'll get better each day which is generally how I go in a stage race."
How it unfolded
After a hectic start with several attacks a group formed only six laps in to the race, or after a little more than ten kilometres. So damaging was the pace of the group, which was completed by Joel Pearson (Jayco Australia), Craig McCartney (Savings and Loans), Zachary Bell (Canada), Tim Gudsell (New Zealand), Bernie Sulzberger (DFL-Cyclingnews), Matthew Wilson (Unibet.com) and Benjamin Jacques-Maynes (Bissell SRAM) that the commissaries called the peloton off the course before the race had gone three quarters of its distance.
The departure of the main bunch did little to dampen the spirit of the breakaways, who for all but one of the remaining laps, rode at the same furious rate they had established when they first began lapping the field.
Gudsell and Wilson were the first to attempt to make their own break, just before officials signaled three laps to go, the race having been in progress for the required 60 minutes, but were quickly reeled in. McCartney and Southam wasted no time in making another attack but they too were snaffled up by a determined Kemps as the riders climbed View Street for the third to last time. By the time the bell rang for a lap to go, the Astana man had established a gap of his own of six seconds over Southam and McCartney, the three riders then missing a messy fall which put Sulzberger and Jacques-Mayne out of contention for the day.
It proved more than enough for Kemps, who held on to beat Southam by four seconds. The obviously superstitious Geelong rider McCartney, his 13 saddlecloth worn upside down throughout the race, was a further five seconds adrift in third.
Englishman Southam, who now makes Bendigo his base and lives virtually on today's course with his Australian wife, Irene, was adjudged the day's most aggressive rider and will wear the Volvo orange jersey on tomorrow's first general classification stage from Bendigo to Nagambie.
But the honour of wearing the more coveted yellow jersey on the 149.9-kilometre journey, rightly goes to Kemps, who remains confident of gaining further success as the seven-day Tour, Australia's oldest stage race, progresses.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Shane Goss/www.licoricegallery.com
1 Aaron Kemps (Aus) Astana 1.07.50 2 Tom Southam (GBr) Drapac Porsche Development Program 0.04 3 Craig McCartney (Aus) Savings & Loans Cycling Team 0.09 4 Zach Bell (Can) Bicycle Superstore Canada National Team 0.19 5 Matthew Wilson (Aus) Unibet.com 6 Timothy Gudsell (NZl) Mitchelton Wines New Zealand 7 Joel Pearson (Aus) Jayco Australia 1.13