• Kelland O'Brien held fast to win the Tour of the Great South Coast. (Jean-Pierre Ronco)Source: Jean-Pierre Ronco
After six days, eight stages and 541.2 kilometres, Kelland O'Brien (Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) clinched the overall victory at the Tour of the Great South Coast.
Cycling Central

Cycling Australia
2 Sep 2019 - 10:29 AM 

Dominating from the opening stage, the talent loaded Pro Racing Sunshine Coast outfit showed they were all business as they took a clean sweep of the podium in the opening stage.

Sam Welsford pushed team-mate O’Brien for the overall Tour victory after featuring in six podiums and picking up two stage wins by the time the tour reached the penultimate stage.

Unfortunately for the dual 2019 world champion, a loss of some 32 seconds to O'Brien on Stage 7 at Bridgewater saw him concede the leader's jersey to his team-mate with one stage to go.

“I didn’t expect to win the tour when I arrived, but I bought some good form home from Europe," O'Brien said. "Now I will have a rest and continue my training towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games."

Jarrad Drizners (InForm TM Insight MAKE) won the Tour's Rising Star Award and took over the lead in the Cycling Australia National Road Series individual standings.

The closing stage, a 48km criterium around Portland, looked to favour O’Brien, but some untimely rain made the circuit very slick and dangerous for the entire peloton.

Though O'Brien was in the leader's jersey, he wasn't home yet. Stage 8 promised an exciting finale to the tour with 30 bonus seconds for the intermediate sprints on offer.

The ever-dangerous and opportunistic Raphael Freienstein (InForm TM Insight MAKE) struck early as he looked to upset Pro Racing Sunshine Coast’s victory celebrations.

With Freienstein chipping away at O'Brien's lead throughout the day, Pro Racing Sunshine Coast kept throwing bodies forward in an attempt to minimize any losses.

Just when it looked like they had done enough, drama struck midway through the final lap, as the slick road claimed O’Brien to a fall and for a moment, placed his GC lead in doubt. He swiftly remounted and powered back towards the bunch to hold on by 17 seconds.

At the pointy end of the race, Conor Murtagh (Oliver's Real Food Racing) had tried to emulate his success from the day prior - attacking from long range with 10km to go.

Murtagh held off the peloton until the closing corners of the bell lap as Tristan Ward (BridgeLane) launched his sprint 300 meters from the line. Coming around the final turn, Ward ground out the win as the bunch could only look on.

“I don’t pack the punch sprint of some of these guys, but my long sprint is alright," Ward said. "So, I decided to take off and hoped to hang on. It was a great way to get my first stage win on this tour”.