BARKERS Creek’s Lachlan Norris yesterday celebrated the biggest victory of his road cycling career at the end of the six-day Tour of Tasmania.
After taking the leader’s jersey from Drapac Professional Cycling team-mate Darren Lapthorne on Thursday, Norris withstood all challenges on the tough hill climbs and fast-paced criteriums across the next three days.
Greatest challenger was Horsham’s Mark O’Brien, who was 17 seconds behind Norris at the end of the 555km duel.
“I’ve been working towards this for the past few months, training for it with Darren (Lapthorne),” Norris said after yesterday’s final stage, a criterium in Devonport.
“We both knew we were going really well and either way, we knew one of us had a shot of winning it.”
Their lead-up included training at Healesville, Bright and around Bendigo.
Victory in the Hagley to Great Lake stage put Norris on top of the GC (general classification) and it’s where he stayed.
The 25-year-old said the label of pre-race favourite on Lapthorne was a bonus.
“The focus was all on him, though, which really took the emphasis off me. It gaves us a couple of options with those hard road stages.”
Best known for his mountain biking exploits, the cycling star from near Castlemaine shone in the tour, which was the final leg in the four-round Scody Cup.
“All the hard work has paid off,” Norris said of winning the Caterpillar Undergound Mining-backed classic.
“It’s a great list of names on the honour roll, so it feels good to win this. Hopefully, I can follow some of them and eventually go to Europe and race.”
Norris, who also won the Norske Skog King of the Mountains jersey, praised his Drapac team-mates.
“It was a terrific effort by every team-mate in every stage.”
Number one team in the Tour was Genesys Wealth Advisers.
Sprint champion was Neil Van Der Ploeg, while Tasmania’s Ben Grenda earned the criterium jersey. Most aggressive rider award was presented to Blair Windsor, a team-mate of O’Brien in the Budget Forklifts colours.
Norris, who excelled on many of the daunting hills in Tasmania, will now focus on this Saturday’s Melbourne to Warrnambool.
Rivals in the big race include Western Australia’s Anthony Giacoppo, who was the overall Scody Cup champion.
The Scody Cup began with the Tour of Gippsland in early August and was followed by the Great South Coast Tour and Tour of the Murray River.