The New Zealand national time trial champion was part of a breakaway group for most of the 83 kilometer stage before launching a solo attack with 20 kilometers remaining.
“This stage win means everything to me,” Cooper revealed. “I think this is probably my best win of the Subaru National Road Series so far.
“It’s the hardest tour, especially at the end of a very taxing season. I’m just happy to get the job done for the boys today and it’s a bit of a reward for all the hard work I’ve been putting in this week,” said Cooper who claimed the NRS opener in Perth in April.
Despite being chased by Friday’s stage winner Bernard Sulzberger (Drapac) and William Walker (Drapac), who finished second and third respectively, Cooper charged to the finish, to cross with a 49 second time gap.
“In my mind I had decided the 10 kilometers to go mark was when I’d have a go, but as it turned out, on that last King of the Mountain the break started to split up and I thought ‘I have to roll the dice now and have a crack’” Cooper said.
“I managed to get over the top with a bit of a gap – I knew Bernard and Will would probably try to get together and chase, but I just went into my drive mode and continued on to the finish.”
Cooper’s victory all but ensures that team mate Haig will clinch the tour, after the yellow jersey wearer finished in a bunch alongside nearest competitor Robbie Hucker. With one stage remaining, Haig was positive about his chances of finishing in the leader’s jersey on Sunday.
“Another day down and the job is just about done,” the Bendigo-based rider commented. “The boys did an amazing job today – we had a small breakaway go up the road with Joe Cooper and we just controlled it from there on in.”
Haig also admitted his delight to be alongside a notable list of yellow jersey alumni heading into the final stage.
“I’m extremely proud to be wearing the yellow jersey with only one stage to go,” Haig said. “When I looked at the people that had won this tour previously it’s a pretty impressive list, with Richie Porte and Cadel Evans in there. I’d be honoured to get on that list with them tomorrow.”
The 2013 Tour of Tasmania concludes on Sunday with a criterium around Devonport at 11am.
Top 25 Finishers
1 Joseph Cooper (NZl) Huon Salmon-Genesys Wealth Advisers Pro Cycling Team 2:10:46 2 Bernard Sulzberger (Tas) Drapac Cycling 0:00:49 3 William Walker (Vic) Drapac Cycling 4 Timothy Cameron (ACT) St George Skoda Hp Team 5 Ben Grenda (Tas) Team Polygon Australia 0:01:04 6 Alex Edmondson (SA) Euride Racing 7 Robbie Hucker (Vic) Drapac Cycling 8 Jason Spencer (Vic) Chartermason Drapac Development Team 9 Jack Mcculloch (NSW) St George Skoda Hp Team 10 Rhys Gillett (Vic) African Wildlife Safaris Cycling Team 11 Chris Jory (NSW) Gpm Data#3 12 Patrick Shaw (Vic) Huon Salmon-Genesys Wealth Advisers Pro Cycling Team 13 Alistair Donohoe (Vic) Search2Retain P/B Health.Com.Au 14 Jack Haig (Vic) Huon Salmon-Genesys Wealth Advisers Pro Cycling Team 15 Eric Sheppard (Vic) Search2Retain P/B Health.Com.Au 16 Nathan Earle (Tas) Huon Salmon-Genesys Wealth Advisers Pro Cycling Team 17 Brodie Talbot (NSW) Caterpillar 18 Jai Crawford (Tas) Huon Salmon-Genesys Wealth Advisers Pro Cycling Team 19 Jayden Copp (Qld) Caterpillar 20 Lucas Hamilton (Vic) Jayco/Apollo Vis Men’s Road Team 21 Oscar Stevenson (Vic) Jayco/Apollo Vis Men’s Road Team 22 Floris Goesinnen (Ned) Drapac Cycling 23 Darren Lapthorne (Vic) Drapac Cycling 24 Zane Hunter (Vic) Seight Test Team P/B The Biomechanics 25 Saxon Irvine (NSW) Downer Edi Mining National Cycling Team
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