The second stage over 170kms showcased some of the hardest “Strade Nero” dirt roads in the country. We saw a strong ride from Conor Murtagh, the 25 year old who joined Oliver’s at the start of 2019. Murtagh finished runner up to National Road Series leader Jarred Drizners (Inform-MAKE) at the finish line of the Sam Miranda Winery after a small bunch sprint. The result was enough to elevate Conor to a 3rd place overall finish for the Tour.
The opening stage of the tour was held on the Winton Raceway and ended in a bunch sprint finish, despite several breakaway attempts. Oliver’s rider Brendon Davids was a principal antagonist in the race and was awarded “most aggressive rider” for his efforts on the stage won by Matthew Rice (Pro Racing Sunshine Coast). With no huge time gaps between riders after the opening stage: it was all to play for on stage 2, arguably the toughest day on the NRS calendar.
Despite numerous breakaway attempts throughout the early part of the stage, the pressure of the chase from the peloton never allowed an advantage of more than 2 minutes to any group. As the final climb approached with 60kms to go in the race: Samuel Hill (Team Nero Bianchi) broke away solo, and was joined by four other riders on the unsealed climb. Seeing the danger of the move, Conor Murtagh and teammate Brendon Davids were joined by 3 other riders and fought hard for over 15kms to join the lead of the race.
The two front groups combined with 40kms to go, and worked well together over the last hour of racing. Despite the efforts of Team Bridgelane, and Drapac Cycling, who both did not have riders present in the lead group, the lead group containing Murtagh and Davids from Oliver’s maintained an advantage of around 30 seconds all the way to the finish line.
With two riders in the lead group, and Callum Pearce’s strong 12th place finish, it was enough to also secure the overall team classification win for the Green Team for the Tour.