WEST Australian Anthony Giacoppo survived a crash-marred opening two stages in the Tour of the Great South Coast to seize an early lead.
The Genesys Wealth Advisers rider was second in stage one, a criterium at Portland, and backed up with fourth in the road race from Portland to Nelson.
He has an overall time of two hours, 52 minutes and four seconds, 13 seconds ahead of Queenslander Ryan Macanally (Budget Forklifts).
Giacoppo said he was rapt to have the leader’s jersey after day one.
He said he was lucky to avoid two crashes in the final five kilometres of the road race.
“The first one happened right next to me. I just managed to avoid it. I think it was about three or four kilometres to go,” he said.
“Then the last one happened just behind me. I was quite lucky to stay out of them.
“That all comes down to position. You ride good position you avoid crashing.”
Brenton Jones (Genesys) took out the 40km criterium, ahead of Giacoppo and Macanally, with the trio expertly avoiding a series of crashes on the waterfront circuit.
But Giacoppo entered the road race with a six-second advantage thanks to picking up more time bonuses in intermediate sprints.
Luke Davison (Budget Forklifts) won the 75.9km road race from Macanally and Jack Beckinsale (Croydon Cycleworks) after a bunch sprint.
Giacoppo, who increased his advantage from six to 19 seconds in the road race, said it was a difficult day of racing.
“The criterium this morning was on a fairly testing circuit, with the corners at either end,” he said. “Especially being wet it made it quite hard.
“To try and get the time bonuses necessary to win the tour we had to contest the intermediate sprints, which made it even more interesting in those conditions.
“In the road stage this afternoon the wind was up.
“We always knew it was going to be quite a difficult stage, especially with the direction changes.”
The last crash of the day hospitalised four riders, including New Zealander Dion Smith, who suffered a broken collarbone.
Smith was one of three Pure Black Racing team members caught up in the crash who are unlikely to ride out the tour.
Tour of Gippsland winner Will Walker (Drapac), one of the main hopefuls, has also withdrawn due to illness.
Giacoppo, a renowned sprinter, said he wanted to retain his lead in today’s fourth stage, a 94.2km road race from Heywood to Casterton.
“The road stage is quite difficult, a lot of climbs in it which will make life hard,” he said.
“That’s where having the lead comes in handy.”