Crone shines in season finale

Joel Peterson | Bendigo Weekly | 10-Nov-2017

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Sam Crome won the king of the mountains prize at the Tour of Hainan.
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BENDIGO duo Sam Crome and Robbie Hucker have finished their seasons in style at the Tour of Hainan.

Often seen training together on the road of Bendigo, the IsoWhey Sports duo again contributed to more team success for the red-hot Australian-based outfit.

The team tackled the Tour of Hainan for the first time, culminating in a win on the final stage of the race for Kiwi Joe Cooper.

But the bigger prize went to Crome – regarded mostly as a classics-style rider and a former Bendigo Madison winner – who took out the King of the Mountains prize.

The win was sealed after Cooper’s stunning solo break on stage nine, which earned IsoWhey the stage win as well as tightening the zipper on Crome’s KoM jersey, which he had nabbed two days earlier.

“On stage  seven, we wanted to look for a breakaway to target the KOM jersey, which we managed and then we just had to defend it in the last two days,” Crome said.

“We had no sprinters today so it worked out perfect. Joe went up the road and took the maximum points in the hills.

“Once I got two second places, I knew I’d wrapped it up. Then Joe went solo and topped the day off for the team.”

Crome finished 24th in the overall classification, but Hucker’s 10th was an impressive way for the team to finish its season.

After starting the season in January with eighth in the National Road Championships, Hucker has enjoyed a strong season.

It is the sixth straight race in which Hucker has finished top-20 overall, including the Tour of China, Tour of Japan and fourth in the Tour of Hungary.

His worst finish this year was 24th in the Herald Sun Tour, a race that was contested by Tour de France champ Chris Froome and a host to top-level international riders.

Despite two crashes at the gruelling event, Crome said it was the ideal way to finish the season.

“I had a bit of a rough round but luckily, it only  took some skin off so I was still able to ride,” he said.

“Hopefully we’ll get invited back  again to the Tour of Hainan. The team pushed really hard to get a start here. I think we’ve not only repaid the faith to the team but to the organisers as well.”

The international season has wrapped up for the majority of riders, with Chris Hamilton and Jack Haig returning home in recent weeks.

The road cycling season will be back in full swing in January, with the national championships, Tour Down Under and Herald Sun Tour.

Before that, Bendigo will host two days of track cycling in December as part of Cycling Victoria’s Christmas Classic series.

Shepparton has withdrawn from hosting its leg of the event, meaning Bendigo will host consecutive days of track racing at Tom Flood Sports Centre on Thursday, December 28 and Friday, December 29.

Events include the 2000-metre Lindsay Harrington Memorial Wheelrace, the Victorian men’s 10-mile and motor pace championship events and two rounds of the Godfrey Family Women’s Omnium series. 

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