A PUNCTURE momentarily halted the charge by Bendigo cyclist Jack Haig in Friday's race to Penguin in the Caterpillar Touf of Tasmania.
Racing for Huon-Genesys, Haig was fourth in the stage and leads another Bendigo star, Drapac's Robbie Hucker by 1 minute 43 seconds going into Saturday's racing from Burnie.
The tour leader praised his team-mates for their work to catch the breakaway group, which included Haig's main rivals, Bendigo's Hucker and Darren Lapthorne (Drapac) on the way to Penguin.
At two stages to go the heat is right on.
"Drapac are really giving it all to us. They're really strong guys and I've got a lot of respect for themn, as I train a lot with them in Bendigo," Haig said.
"They're going to try everything to get the yellow jersey."
The stage to Penguin was won by Tasmania's Bernard Sulzberger, racing for Drapac, from Rhys Gillett and Hucker.
A five-rider breakaway of Hucker, Lapthorne, Haig, Gillett and Sulzberger held a sizeable lead after the second King of the Mountain sprint, but then fractured in the last 20 kilometres.
Saturday's trek from Burnie takes the field nland for two difficult King of the Mountain climbs, before returning to the seaside town.
The Tour of Tasmania is part of the 17-leg Subaru-backed national road series. The Caterpillar Tour of Tasmania will feature on SBS1 at 4pm on Sunday, October 13 and at 5pm on Monday, October 14.