Press Release: Leigh Howard (Team AIS) has taken out the opening stage of the Tour of Japan to give him the race lead in the seven stage 745 kilometre event.
The 19 year old from Geelong crossed the line in a time of 2hr26min02sec to finish four seconds clear of the field on the 102km stage raced around the 2.7km Daisen Park Circuit.
Howard, who won the omnium and claimed the silver medal in the team pursuit at the Track Cycling World Championships in March, was four seconds clear of second placed Valentin Iglinskiy (KAZ) with Korean Seon Ho Park in third place.
Howard’s team mates Michael Matthews and Travis Meyer were also at four seconds in fourth and sixth places respectively.
Time bonuses have given Howard a 14 second buffer over Iglinskiy on the overall standings. Park sits in third place at 16 seconds with Matthew fourth at 20 seconds and Meyer sixth, also at 20 seconds.
The second stage is a 121km race on a 10km Todaiji Temple Daibutsuden – Nunome Dam circuit. The 2008 event was won by West Australian Cameron Meyer and the 2009 team is keen to repeat the win for Australia.
Australia’s women have also performed well over the weekend at races in America where Victorian Bridie O’Donnell won the Kelly Cup Criterium in Baltimore, Maryland.
O’Donnell, the Oceania Time Trial Champion, clocked 57min59sec for the 34 kilometre race finishing nine seconds clear of the bunch which was led home by three time winner Laura Van Gilder. Erica Allar was third. O’Donnell’s team mate Lauren Kitchen was fourth and fellow Australian Davina Summers 8th.
The previous day at the Wilmington Grand Prix in Delaware Tasmanian Belinda Goss was on the podium after claiming second place behind Van Gilder in the 31 lap, 40 kilometre event. Port Macquarie cyclist Lauren Kitchen was sixth.
Source: Cycling Australia