22 year old Ryan Thomas has secured Oliver’s Racing’s first ever podium
in a National Road Series (NRS) tour general classification. Finishing
the 500km, 6 stage _PORT OF PORTLAND-FULTON HOGAN TOUR OF GREAT SOUTH
COAST in second place overall just 16 second adrift of Kiwi winner Brad
Evans (Drapac-Pat’s Veg) & just 1 second ahead of Evans’ teammate Liam
The Inverell boy who now lives in Brisbane, demonstrated that he has
only gained strength in his 18 month absence from competing in
Australia’s premier road series. Taking a big time advantage on a
decisive 137.6km stage 3 which started and finished in Port MacDonnall.
It was in the crosswinds that Thomas, with the help of his teammates
Rien Schuurhuis & Jack Sutton, along with 18 other riders, managed to
gain a time advantage of over 5 minutes on the rest of the competition
in appalling conditions.
The tour started well for Oliver’s, with Sean Whitfield taking 5th
place in the opening stage 1 criterium held in Mt Gambier, followed by a
2nd place to Scott Sunderland (Isowhey Sports-SwissWellness) in the
tours second stage later that afternoon.
However it was the crosswinds and rain of Stage 3 that defined the tour
and shaped the final overall classification. With the wind gusts of 50
km/h expected to cause havoc from a left hand turn at kilometer 8 of the
stage. The Oliver’s Racing team positioned themselves well and had 5
riders present in a group of 22 riders split off the front of the main
field thanks to the pressure of all teams trying to ride the front.
Included in this split was Robbie Hucker & Scott Sunderland (Isowhey),
Jesse Coyle & four of his Mobius Future Racing teammates, &
Drapac-Pat’s Veg trio Brad Evans, Liam White & Matt Ross.
Unfortunately less than 10kms later, Sean Whitfield & Nick White were
caught up in a crash in the lead group, forcing them back to the peloton
leaving Thomas with teammates Schuurhuis & Sutton for company.
The lead group only gained time all the way to the finish, and with
20kms to go Schuurhuis & Thomas formed a breakaway of 5 riders which
also included Drapac-Pat’s Veg duo Brad Evans & Liam White and Jesse
Coyle of Mobius Future Racing. The 5 would gain just over a minute on
the line, making the Tour a very close and tactical race in the final
After an undulating stage 4 ending in a bunch sprint from Heywood to
Casterton, where Sean Whitfield finished 4th, it was onto Saturday, and
the final road stage, a challenging 121km four lap circuit race at Cape
Bridgewater. With the weather conditions not proving as difficult as
predicted, it was Robbie Hucker (Isowhey) who tried a breakaway and
was joined by Matt Ross (Drapac-Pat’s Veg). With the duo threatening
the overall positions of Ryan Thomas (Oliver’s) & Jesse Coyle
(Mobius), it was down to their two teams to chase and catch the
escapees. With 5kms to go they were caught and in the sprint finish it
was Scott Sunderland who again took victory.
The final stage of the tour would be a 30 lap criterium in the seaside
Port of Portland. With time bonuses on offer on every second lap at the
finish line, it was a tactical and physical battle between the top 6
riders in the overall classification. Despite being caught in a crash in
the final stages. Thomas did enough to secure second place overall at
the finish of the tour. Oliver’s teammate Rien Schuurhuis also
finished a gallant 5th overall after supporting Thomas throughout the
With the NRS rankings yet to be confirmed, it is expected Ryan Thomas
will move into second overall in the under 23 classification, and his
Oliver’s Real Food Racing team into 3rd place in the teams standings.
RYAN THOMAS: “We had a great tour with a couple of podiums and 2nd on
GC – I’m really happy with that. We’ve come in with really great form
and the Oliver’s guys were unreal yesterday pulling the time back to
keep me up on GC.”