The “Oliver’s Green Bean” Conor Murtagh has made a successful return to racing at the Tour of Great South Coast with an emphatic stage 7 victory on the “queens stage” of the event held on the infamous Cape Bridgewater circuit. The race marked Murtagh’s return from a nasty crash in June at the Tour of the Philippines where he suffered 3 fractures of his pelvis.
The event started strongly for Murtagh and the Oliver’s team. With a 6th place finish for sprinter Sean Whitfield in the opening criterium in Mount Gambier which was dominated by the Pro Racing Sunshine Coast team. In the afternoon road stage Murtagh slipped into a successful breakaway to finish in 5th place and move into the top 10 overall where he would stay all week.
Disaster struck for the Green Team on stage 3 which was held in Port MacDonnell. 3 Oliver’s riders were involved in a crash early into the 128km stage. With Brendon Davids being the worst affected. The South African would suffer on in the race for a further 3 stages before abandoning with what was later confirmed as a broken bone in the wrist.
A 4th place and narrow missing of the podium in the stage 5 team time trial confirmed the team’s strength despite the injuries from stage 3.
But it was on the last two days that 26 year old Murtagh was rewarded for his strength and persistence. Despite already being present in numerous breakaway’s throughout the tour, Murtagh joined a strong 7 man breakaway which formed on the penultimate lap of the stage 7, 121km circuit race. Despite a last lap breakaway attempt from Jay Vine, the group all came back together with 3 kilometers to go. Murtagh successfully counter-attacked and rode away to claim an emotional solo victory. The boy from Brunswick pointed to the sky as he crossed the line in memory of his late father.
The 8th and final stage held in the Port of Portland on a technical 1.6km circuit was made even more challenging thanks to wet conditions. Murtagh again showed his strength as he chanced his hand with a solo attack in the final 10kms of the race. Despite being caught on the final lap Murtagh was rewarded with the “most aggressive rider” award and finished the race in 7th place overall. Oliver’s team-mate Callum Pearce finished the final stage in 9th place to move into the top 20 overall.
Conor Murtagh: ““I am using this as my comeback event and I’ve just been waiting for something to pop up like today. It is very pleasing not only for myself but for my Oliver’s team which has supported me so much. It is huge and I wanted to do it for them. I’m just out here trying to put my Dads name on things and make my Mum proud.”
Brad Davies – Sports Director: “Overall we had lots to be happy about, but also lots to improve on. We got better as a team over the course of the tour and we were really riding well in support of each other in the final few days. Of course a bit unlucky loosing Brendon on day 2 and having two others go down in a crash. But Conor getting up on the big day, it was impressive from him in the final, and the lads of course who helped set him up.”