BRAD Evans is hoping to follow the path of fellow New Zealander Patrick Bevan, the 2015 winner who this year rode in the Tour de France, after a commanding victory in the Port of Portland-Fulton Hogan Tour of the Great South Coast.
Evans, who is 25, won the 500km five-day race by 16 sec from another young cyclist, Queensland’s Ryan Thomas (21), with one second back to Victorian Liam White who pipped NSW’s Jesse Coyle on rankings after riding the same time.
Evans, who takes the lead in Australian Cycling’s National Road Race series, led a depleted Drapac Pat’s Veg Cycling combination to team success with impressive young teammate Matthew Ross, 21, claiming the unusual double of Sprint champion and King of the Mountain winner after 44 sprints and 18 hill climbs.
The win didn’t come without incident for Evans. He was one of 12 riders to fall early in the 48km criterium at Portland, and again with two of the 30 laps remaining when he and the two other general classification place-getters came to grief at what is known as “suicide corner”.
“All was going well when I won the second and third sprints of the day before the fall. But I stressed a bit when I fell with only two laps to go. Fortunately for me, we were to be given the same time as we fell within the last 3km, and also because my main two rivals fell with me so we were in the same boat,” he said.
Evans said he would ride the rest of the NRS series and hopefully a few international races to continue his progress.
Tour runner-up Thomas said he arrived in good form and was delighted with the result.
“The team (Oliver’s Real Food Racing) did a great job in tough conditions throughout the tour and I just had to finish it off today.”
Third-placed White from Drapac said the team was outstanding all week, particularly after it lost key front-running riders Oliver Kent-Spark with a broken collarbone on the opening day and Tom Kaesler from illness the following morning.
“To win that stage in those conditions at Port MacDonnell is something that will stay with me for a long while and to finish on the podium at the end of the tour is unbelievable,” he said.
Brilliant sprinter Scott Sunderland won his fourth stage (with another second) of the six stage event, leading home teammates Anthony Giacoppo and Chris Harper in a triumph for the Isowhey Sports SwissWellness team.
South Australian Callum Pearce (Van D’am Racing) won the Rising Star award for the best performed under 21 rider, while fellow South Australian Joshua Harrison (also under 21) won yesterday’s Most Aggressive rider award for the South Australian Sports Institute.