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THE JONESY REPORT – TOUR OF THE TROPICS 2018

By Alan Jones – The Voice of Cycling in North Queensland thanks to Cairns Cycling Club

(Photo Credit: Adam – Pump ‘n’ Pedals)

Stage 2 – Malanda – 4/8/18

CAMERON LAYTON KEPT THE TEAM MCDONALD’S DOWN UNDER FLAG FLYING WITH A BRILLIANT WIN IN THE MALANDA HILLS.

Adding to the criterium win of Nick Miller at Collins Avenue last night. Where Miller spread eagled a quality line up.

In a race where all spectators were guessing to which rider could wrest the pink jersey away from Miller. The 29 riders “strolled” through the Malanda Village at a steady pace until the bottom of Rankine Hill where Miller and Bickel as expected upped the anty, with riders behind quickly scrambling to stay in touch.

Brendon Brauer joined Miller with Daniel Rubach leading the chase with Ben Laws, James Page, Tom Coates and Cameron Layton watchful.

Then Miller and Brauer started to pinch a break and quickly blew the lead out to around 20 seconds. Then Victorian James Page started to bridge the gap making three at the top.

The three leaders continued to break away and were not reeled in until the third lap. When Coates, Layton and Jeff Rubach closed the gap and they were followed through by Mouldey and Laws splitting the peloton in two.

Swinging into Malanda for the Sprint, Tom Coates had ranged up and claimed Layton and Page to win a cracking sprint to take the win.

It was obvious to all that the winner was in the lead bunch, however with four team McDonald’s in that group, the stage was set for another Team McDonald’s win.

Jeff Rubach and Ben Laws were desperately trying to spoil the McDonald’s party, however, 6kms out, final lap, Cameron Layton made his break which edged out to around 200metres from Brauer, Miller, Page, Bickel and the two Townsville boys, Laws and Jeff Rubach.

With Layton going for home, his team mate Bickel endeavoured to catch and his efforts had them both securing a 10 second lead into the last 3kms. With them away, the residual were guaranteed to be racing for third.

It was going to be difficult for Rubach, Page and Laws who were still in the mix for a podium position, however that brilliant move by Cameron Layton meant he kept increasing his lead, and the young Brisbane rider careered away with his team mates Miller and Coates, being challenged for 2nd place, by Rubach and Laws.

On the line Cameron Layton ran out a convincing winner from team mates Mat Bickel and Tom Coates, completing the trifecta. Close up was Ben Laws, Nick Miller and James Page, finishing a thrilling Stage 2, A Grade fixture through the hills of Malanda.

What cannot be understated was the aggressive riding of Brendan Bauer and Nick Miller adding to the sensational spectacle at the finish line.

 

Stage 4 – Yungaburra – 5/8/18

TEAM MCDONALDS DOWNUNDER (TMDU) SUPERB FORM CONTINUED ON STAGE 4, WHEN NICK MILLER BACKED UP HIS BRILLIANT CRITERIUM WIN ON FRIDAY WITH ANOTHER STUNNING PEFORMANCE THROUGH THE ROLLING HILLS OF YUNGABURRA AND PEERAMON IN SUNDAY’S ROAD RACE.

Under the stunning backdrop of blue skies and Cows grazing, the talented KIWI bided his time through the first of five laps of the 21km parcourse, before testing the water on the hill climb toward Peeramon midway through lap two.

With King of the mountain points up for grabs, Nick Miller was joined by Mackay’s Scott Sampson and pinched a small break as they entered Ball road. Matt Driver gave chase looking over his shoulder for support, but he quickly drifted back midfield when no reaction from the chase group. Shortly after, Sampson’s effort was short lived leaving Miller well clear heading for KOM POINTS. Any attempt to reel Miller in was immediately closed by Layton, Bickel and Coats, although Lawes riding strongly moved into points contention, however no one was going to catch Nick Miller, easily taking the prize from Layton and Page. KOM points racked, Miller was back in the field by the end of the second lap through the strong efforts of Victorian James Page and Ben Lawes.

Attention then focused on the sprint classification. Layton’s team mates Matt Bickel, Nick Miller and the leader in the sprint jersey Thomas Coats were in total control as they sat on top of the pace watchful of any attempt to that could upset the powerful Brisbane foursome attempting to secure their grasp on the green jersey. However, the powerful frame of Dan Rubach working for his brother Jeff was prominent along with Townsville’s Ben Laws and Mackay’s Brendon Brauer.

All four riders following attentively to ensure they stayed in contact with classification leaders. However, it wasn’t going to go all their way. Layton, using the Ball road climb as a spring board, launched over the top and quickly got a 10 second lead as they passed the Peeramon Pub for the 3rd time. It would be left to Rubach, Laws and Brauer to chase the lead or concede the 3 points and settle for second. With 5km to the sprint, they looked to be reeling Layton in, however he managed to collect maximum points before regrouping.

With Layton back with his teammates at the commencement of the second last lap Miller went again with the clear intention of consolidated the blue climbers jersey and quickly put seconds on his rivals. Initially no reaction was noted from the group, with all later attempts immediately nullified by TMDU, allowing Miller career away to secure top place and collecting maximum points.

With a 20 second gap to the main field over the crest, it was clear Miller’s intentions was to stay away if possible. Passing through Yungaburra for the last time, Miller’s lead was now in excess of 30 seconds with vehicles allowed between the break.

Sampson was still there with Layton and Bart Duras nursing an infection, bravely moved to fourth wheel. Miller’s final lap pace and the required speed of the chase to mitigate further losses, was taking its toll on some of the field with Dan Rubach, Sampson and Gavin Taylor dropping off the back. Miller made his way to the back of the course, through the rainforest of the Curtain Fig tree, his lead now at 62 seconds. Brendan Brauer backing up his aggressive ride at Malanda, leading the rest with Layton, Bickel and Coats keeping a close watch as their teammate just keep rolling away disappearing well out of sight.

Miller’s lead was now out to 2 minutes as he topped the Quinkan Hill with less than five km to go and with his superb teammates in control of the peloton, only a serious mechanical could stop the flying Kiwi from chalking up his second win of the Tour, and win he did, swinging into the Yungaburra straight all on his own, to brilliantly claim the road race. Team mate, Coates taking second from the chasing bunch sprint and rounding the trifecta, Cameron Layton. Ben Lawes displayed a valiant effort to take fourth from James page and our very own Bart Duras.

 

Final Crit and Race of Series – Stage 5 – Yungaburra – 5/8/18

HELD BACK IN THE CENTRE OF YUNGABRRA OVER THE NOSTALGIC, TIGHT AND TRICKY COURSE, THE FINAL RACE OF THE TOUR WAS A SPECTATOR’S DELIGHT WITH ALL RIDERS UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL.

And it wasn’t long after the start that the classy foursome of Bickel, Miller, Coats and Layton would quickly take control showing their supreme versatility, given any distance and on any road surface. In a race with plenty of short course specialists, Team Mc Donald’s despite some spirited efforts from the likes of Brendon Brauer, James Page and to a lesser extent Bart Duras and Jeff Rubach the race seemingly belonged to one of the Brisbane riders.

From lap one, the foursome slowly ramped up the pace, lap after lap, turning the screws. The field single file each lap as they crossed the finish line. The pressure was evident on the riders faces and by the 15 minute mark the cracks started to appear. Wheels were being dropped and chased, it soon became a race of two groups. Once the elastic snapped, the race quickly became a race of six with Duras heading up the rest of the field and quickly becoming distanced.

With Coates on top of the sprinting points, he sat third wheel a lap out from the coveted prize, and without too much trouble comfortably took SPRINT honours from Layton. Brendon Bauer wasn’t going to die wondering and jumped to the top and held that spot for a couple laps where he and Page made Miller and Co work a little bit harder than they would have liked. As they flashed past the judges 3 laps out, the pair were the book ends, Brauer leading with Page in sixth spot but the fire power of Miller, Layton, Bickel and Coats were always going to be bridge too far for two outsiders, the race within the race was between Page and Brauer, with less than a second leading into the last stage. With this in mind Brendon Brauer launched into the final lap, intent putting a gap into Page to secure 5th overall but Nick Miller and Cameron Layton unwittingly pursued Brauer assisting Page to stay in touch.

The large crowd were certain that one of the team McDonalds would now take the final race but the race to fill the podium was still a mystery, as all riders had been riding strongly. AS they exited the turn at the pub, it was three wide in the last bend before Cameron Layton drew alongside Miller into the uphill finish with Layton finishing brilliantly to win comfortably from Miller. Third place going to Tom Coats from Bickel fourth, they were followed home by Brendon Brauer and James Page, both riders putting tremendous performances considering the strength of the McDonalds quartet.

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