'It feels amazing': Blake Agnoletto leads InForm TMX MAKE show at Tropics

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From staring down the prospect of missing the race completely to winning your first AusCycling National Road Series stage and tour – welcome to Blake Agnoletto’s weekend at Tour of the Tropics.

The InForm TMX MAKE rising star was the number one beneficiary of a team hungry for domination over the two-day four-stage tour, with the Melbourne-based NRS team winning every classification and stage bar one in far north Queensland.

Agnoletto vaulted from 10th overall at the end of Stage 2’s individual time trial to the leader’s jersey following a Stage 3 victory in Gordonvale, a position the 19-year-old comfortably maintained during the final Stage 4 criterium on Cairns Esplanade.

The Bendigo product jubilantly crossed the finish in second on Sunday afternoon behind team captain Brenton Jones to put a stamp of authority over the men’s NRS Tour of the Tropics.

“It feels amazing going from not knowing if five of us would make it to the start line to riding the way we did,” Agnoletto said.

“Especially with how we came together as a team and rode so selflessly for the best results possible.

“It was such a pleasure to win the tour for all the hard work our amazing group of guys put in all tour.”

Agnoletto also grabbed the Young Rider and Mountain Classification to round out a weekend to remember for the developing talent.

Teammate Tristan Saunders held his advantage in the Sprint Classification over Butterfields-Insurance Advisernet p/b Van D'am Racing’s Angus Miller to go along with his Stage 1 win in Malanda.

ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast’s Cameron Scott did enough to extend his overall NRS lead to 180 points at Tropics after a heavy block of racing in Europe.

The 2022 Melbourne to Warrnambool winner finished the tour in fifth, 30 seconds in arrears of Agnoletto.

The final InForm TMX MAKE victory from Cairns was the Teams General Classification, won by a staggering 16 minutes and five seconds.

NRS Tropics
The Atherton Tablelands and Cairns turned on the sunny weather for Tour of the Tropics. Picture: Bear Liang

NRS veteran Joe Cooper (Giant Racing Team) took home the win from the Friday Tour of the Tropics NRS Classic by a convincing margin of 32 seconds ahead of Team BridgeLane's Ben Metcalfe.

The Tour of the Tropics NRS Classic was a late one-day race adjustment to the tour due to flight cancellations for a number of riders during the week.

Stage 1: Saunders sprints to maiden NRS stage win in Malanda

After an interrupted and reshuffled start to the Tour of the Tropics due to flight cancellations, the NRS men began the stage race Tour of the Tropics officially on Saturday morning around 12 laps of a 10km Malanda circuit.

The early laps of Stage 1 were dominated by Butterfields-Insurance Advisernet p/b Van D'am Racing’s Angus Miller before he was eventually reeled back in by the peloton.

ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast and InForm TMX MAKE then controlled the race for a bunch sprint that delivered a one-two finish to InForm’s Tristan Saunders and Blake Agnoletto.

“It was awesome to get the win in the end,” Saunders said.

NRS Tropics
Joe Cooper (Giant Racing Team) turned back the clock at Tour of the Tropics. Picture: Bear Liang

“I’ve been trying for a while so it’s nice to finally get up.”

Stage 2: Class is permanent: NRS veteran Cooper wins Stage 2 ITT

Highlights

A 9.9km Saturday afternoon individual time trial proved to be the perfect recipe for former New Zealand national road race and time trial champion Joe Cooper (Giant Racing Team).

The 36-year-old put down the power on the climbing Malanda course to finish with a time of 12 minutes 51 seconds, 19 seconds ahead of Saunders (InForm TMX MAKE).

“You know I just had to hope I could rewind the clock a little bit and bring back some of that magic,” Cooper said.

Eventual overall tour winner Agnoletto would finish 13th, 52 seconds behind Cooper.

Stage 3: Agnoletto storms home to tour-defining win in Gordonvale

The men’s Tour of the Tropics was turned on its head in the penultimate stage courtesy of a seven-rider breakaway containing almost all the NRS teams gaining an unassailable lead at the head of the race.

With the peloton, which contained Cooper and Saunders, unwilling to chase the break due to the riders represented in the breakaway, they were soon lapped on the short 7.8km course in southern Cairns and pulled from the race with a 16-minute time loss.

Up in the breakaway, InForm TMX MAKE’s Brenton Jones worked hard in the service of young teammate Agnoletto, who rewarded the effort with the first NRS stage win of his career ahead of ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast’s overall NRS leader Cameron Scott.

“It was awesome,” Agnoletto said.

“We came into today just focussing on trying to get the points to close up the overall classification to BridgeLane.

NRS Tropics
Blake Agnoletto (InForm TMX MAKE) and Angus Miller (Butterfields-Insurance Advisernet p/b Van D'am Racing) tussle for KOM points in Gordonvale. Picture: Bear Liang

“Me and BJ (Brenton Jones) got in the move and BJ was the biggest workhorse for me and it’s just an awesome feeling for everyone in the team.

“Just a great team job.”

Stage 4: ‘I really want to see this team succeed’: Jones wins Tropics criterium finale in Cairns

Highlights

A picturesque criterium circuit on Cairns Esplanade was put to the test by the NRS men, who lit up the 70-lap (50km) stage at an average of above 50 km/h for the first 10 minutes.

The high-speed neutralised attacks off the front until ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast’s Declan Trezise surged away with six laps to go.

InForm welded the bunch back together in pursuit of Trezise, bringing it all together for Jones to fly around the final corner and finish in first with Agnoletto in second.

“Really happy with what we did in the finish – the boys were superb,” Jones said.

NRS Tropics
Brenton Jones (InForm TMX MAKE) was too strong in the final stage criterium in Cairns. Picture: Bear Liang

“I yelled at them a little bit and they listened so I apologised after, but I’m really passionate and aggressive, and I really want to see this team succeed and I think we did that this tour.

“Won every jersey as well and first and second on GC as well.”


General Classification

1.Blake AGNOLETTO (ITM) 7h20:02
2.Brenton JONES (ITM) +11
3.Will MOLONEY-MORTON (GRT) +16
4.Angus MILLER (VDR) +28
5.Cameron SCOTT (ACA) +30
6.Kobe HENDERSON (RDC) +38
7.Kane RICHARDS (ACA) +16:23
8.Tristan SAUNDERS (ITM) +16:27
9.Dylan GEORGE (BLN) +16:30
10.Liam WALSH (GRT) +16:34

Sprint Classification

1.Tristan SAUNDERS (ITM) 11pt
2.Angus MILLER (VDR) 6
3.Blake AGNOLETTO (ITM) 5

Mountain Classification

1.Blake AGNOLETTO (ITM) 9pt
2.Angus MILLER (VDR) 6
3.Brenton JONES (ITM) 4

Young Rider Classification

1.Blake AGNOLETTO (ITM) 7h20:02
2.Angus MILLER (VDR) +28
3.Kobe HENDERSON (RDC) +38

Teams Classification

1.InForm TMX MAKE 22h16:59
2.Giant Racing Team +16:05
3.Team BridgeLane +16:46
4.ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast +17:27
5.Rauland Development Cycling Team +19:17


Full results


Pictures: Alex Polizzi and Bear Liang
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