A 63-kilometre criterium in hot conditions was on the menu for Day 2 of the National Road Series nine-day extravaganza in the Tweed Valley. The mercury hit 33 Degrees Celsius and riders' tempers were also simmering after the finish with riders angry at alleged dangerous riding in the final kilometre.
Team Bridgelane did a sterling job to control the race, putting Alistair Christie-Johnston in the break, and controlling the move from the front of the peloton to bring the race back together with just over 10 laps remaining.
Bridgelane set a high pace, making it hard for teams to move up, but it was a task that ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast attempted with their loaded sprinter roster, competing for the all-important lead through the final technical corners.
Bridgelane fought off the challenge well and maintained themselves at the front of the bike race, with ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast's chosen sprinter Cameron Scott slotting in near the Bridgelane train. Heading into the roundabout, the fourth-last corner, there was an incident where Plowright deviated from the inside line of the corner. He appeared to first bump Scott, then swing outwards suddenly, forcing Scott to avoid him to keep from crashing.
Plowright emerged to race clear in the final corners and record a comfortable win, while Scott finished third behind Plowright and Bridgelane teammate Nick White.
Chief commissaire Tony Torr viewed the incident after the stage, heard evidence from ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast and Oliver's Real Food Racing decide against the significant penalty measures of relegation or disqualification for Plowright.
The Bridgelane sprinter was ecstatic after the stage, before any news of dissatisfaction came to light, though he referenced getting physical in the final kilometres.
"They (Bridgelane) rode the front for the last 25 laps and to finish it off for them feels great," said Plowright. "ACA are strong with some big hitters there, we managed to box on there and push them out of the way."
"To beat Cam Scott... he's a magnificent rider and it's a huge win for me."
ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast men's sports director Henk Vogels was incensed after the finish, with the move in his mind breaching the normal rules of cycling.
"If Jensen's (Plowright) deciding that it's ok to throw hooks like that, then it's game on for the rest of the week. We both protested, the Oliver's team and I... if they're going to set a precedent we understand what that means."
The incident somewhat marred what was a fun day of racing in the heat of the Tweed Valley, with blustery conditions and fast racing ensuring a good spectacle. Team Bridgelane's 1-2 on the stage shot them to the top of the team's overall standings, leading second-placed Nero Continental by 274 points, their total of 784 points besting Nero's 510.
Brendan Johnston (CCS Canberra) retains the top position in the individual standings after picking up some points today, and will head into tomorrow's intermediate stage with 50 points lead on Plowright and Jay Vine (Nero Continental).
Day 3 of the National Tour continues on Monday with a road stage starting and finishing in Tyalgum.