The first day of the Vital Signs Fight for Yellow dawned clear but fresh as riders signed on in Wyndham for the opening stage of the two day, five stage tour, a six kilometre prologue individual time trial that would decide the first wearer of the yellow jersey, before a further two road stages later during the day.
One rider who was assured of having a great day whatever his results in the race was Alan Strong, after his son Corbin claimed an astonishing victory in the UCI Track Cycling World Championship in Berlin earlier in the morning, putting the sword to the rest of the field in the points race.
In A grade, Matt Zenovich signalled his intent early, charging to victory in the prologue with a time of 7:38.1, just over seven seconds clear of John Wansink in second, with Andy Hilton a further second back in third.
In B grade the prologue win went to Scott Donnelly with a time of 8:10.3, some eight seconds ahead of Gavin Mason in second, with Morgan Borrie taking third a further eight seconds back.
C grade prologue honours went to Phil Te Tana in 9:09.3, 13 seconds ahead of Dean Stewart and Jette Simon in joint second.
The riders had a short break before the start of the first road stage, over 36 kilometres, which started at 12pm.
It was a hard fought race in A grade, with a big bunch finish at the end of the stage. Mitchel Fitzsimons managed to take the win, one second ahead of Myles Gibson in second, with Navarh Brotherston a further second back in third. The yellow jersey of Matt Zenovich came in with the main bunch, retaining the overall race lead going into the final stage of the day.
The B grade field cracked under relentless pressure, with yellow jersey wearer Scott Donnelly crossing the line solo, 16 seconds ahead of Morgan Borrie in second place, with Gavin Manson pipping Jake Willis for third. The stage win meant that Donnelly extended his lead at the top of the B grade standings.
The C grade field also split up over the course, with Jette Simon edging Dean Stewart for the stage win, with David Knight just managing to beat Craig Sadlier and Rhylee Akeroyd to the line a minute further back. The win moved Simon to the top of the standings in C grade, with Stewart remaining in second place, while Akeroyd moved up to third.
The final stage of day one saw riders take on a 65 kilometre route on a stage that would determine who got to pull on the yellow jersey going into day two of the tour on Sunday.
A grade split up over teh course, with Fraser Hewett and yellow jersey Matt Zenovich coming to the line together. Hewett took out the stage, with Zenovich’s second place securing the overnight overall lead for him. Mitchel Fitzsimons finished third on the stage, 1:43 further back, coming to the line just ahead of Hunter Gough in fourth. Going into day two, Hewett now sits in second overall, with Fitzsimons in third.
In B grade Scott Donnelly continued his dominance, crossing the line more than a minute clear of Gavin Mason in second, narrowly beating Chris Henderson, who had to settle for third. The stage win put Donnelly in a very strong position at the head of B grade going into day two, with Manson in second and Morgan Borrie in third.
In C grade a nine rider group came to the line fairly closely spaced, but it was prologue winner Phil Te Tana who took the win, just ahead of Rhylee Akeroyd in second, with Craig Sadlier pipping Ray Robinson in the race for the final podium place. Jette Simon retained her position at the top of the overall standings, with Dean Stewart in second and Akeroyd in third.
Day two kicks off on Sunday morning with a 45 kilometre road stage in Gore, followed by the final circuit race in the afternoon, with A grade taking on six laps of the 10 kilometre circuit, B grade five laps, and C grade four laps.