“I had the bit between my teeth coming here. I was ready for it!”
Dan McLay delivered the first victory of the season for EF Education First Pro Cycling Team on the opening stage of Jayco Herald Sun Tour. The six-day Australian stage race began with 22 laps around the Phillip Island Moto GP circuit.
McLay held off Kristoffer Halvorsen (Team Sky) and Wouter Wippert (EvoPro) to climb to the top step of the podium. With the stage win came the yellow race leader’s jersey.
“I was up for it today,” said McLay. “I didn’t get much personally out of Down Under, so I had the bit between my teeth coming here. I was ready for it.”
“It’s really great to get a win under the belt so early,” McLay added. “It’s good for my confidence going forward. It’s about time I won something.”
Team founder Jonathan Vaughters echoed McLay’s sentiment: “The first win just means that we’re starting to emerge from a few years of chaos. It takes a while to build a team. Now that we have a solid foundation under us, we can start to build.”
was the first to show the team colors on the 97-kilometer stage. Jimmy WhelanThe rookie forced clear in a three-rider escape during the opening hour of the race.
“I called him back to the bunch,” said sport director Tom Southam. “Trek just kept it at 40-seconds while he was out there, so it was a waste of time. We knew that we’d probably have to ride later, but the break was quite simple to catch.”
When it was time to ride, Whelan was again put to work.
“Jimmy worked hard on the front after riding in the early move,” said McLay. “He pulled to bring the break back.”
With one lap left to race, the race was back together and the peloton readied for a bunch sprint.
“Mitch did a really nice job adapting the lead-out to suit the conditions. They nailed it”
“It was a crosswind around the last long curve,” said McLay. “ kept us out of the wind, pulling around the front through the last curve. Tom [Scully] gave me a big pull coming onto the final stretch. He dropped me off just inside the last 200 meters, 180 meters maybe, and I just held on.” Mitch [Docker]
First to open the sprint, McLay was first across the line.
“Mitch did a really nice job adapting to the lead-out to suit the conditions,” said Southam. “They nailed it.”
The Jayco Herald Sun Tour continues on Thursday (Wednesday in United States), with a 127 kilometer stage that includes a category one climb that tops out 12 kilometers from the race finish in Churchill.
“It’s a general classification day tomorrow, so the race will change completely,” said Southam. “We will be looking for another win, whichever way we can get it.”
“Mike [Woods] kept himself out of trouble and in front of the time gap, so we’re in good shape in that regard looking towards tomorrow,” said McLay. “I think the wind will be the biggest thing tomorrow. The climb, obviously, will be really important, but we can’t think about the climb too much until we’ve done the first part of the day right. Mike, Lachy () and Jimmy, they could all do well on the climb if we look after them well to that point. I think it will be a situation where it will be beneficial to be the team with the responsibility.” Lachlan Morton