REDEMPTION was what Brenton Jones sought and it was what he got.
Two weeks ago, a mechanical issue in the final kilometres of the Tour of the Murray River cost him overall victory in the tour he had led all week.
Yesterday, using the Murray mishap as motivation, the 22-year-old climbed to the top of the podium claiming victory in the Tour of the Great South Coast after a thrilling final stage criterium in Port Fairy, his first ever National Road Series (NRS) overall tour win.
Yesterday’s win also propelled Jones to the top of the NRS aggregate, something he described as “pretty special”.
He had worn the yellow leader’s jersey since last Thursday’s road race from Mount Gambier to Port MacDonnell. He featured on the podium for each of the tour’s eight stages, a feat never achieved in the NRS’ 20-year history. He notched up five second places, two firsts and one third for the week.
The Avanti Racing team member finished the final stage in third place, behind Wormall Civil’s Ryan MacAnally and Search2Retain-Health’s Angus Tobin.
It was enough to keep him in the yellow despite the gallant efforts of his closest rival Jesse Kerrison and his Budget Forklifts’ teammates, who did everything they could to chip away at Jones’ 13 second overall lead.
Kerrison managed to reduce Jones’ lead to seven seconds mid-way through the stage, picking up time bonuses in intermediate sprints. But Avanti’s “blue battalion” kept him and his teammates in check, allowing a small, non-threatening, breakaway to get away in the final laps, taking control of the front of the peloton to ensure Budget Forklifts couldn’t make any moves and take Jones’ lead.
“The result at the Murray was pretty disappointing. To come so close after leading all week then to have that mechanical, but it spurred me and the rest of the boys on the team on for this week,” he said.
“The boys worked so hard for me. For them to sacrifice everything to get me on top of the podium is something I cannot thank them enough for.
“It’s my first NRS tour win and is probably the second biggest win in my career, a close second, behind the bay crits in January.”
Jones won the prestigious Bay Cycling Classic, more commonly known as the bay crits, in January and joined the likes of Stewart O’Grady and Robbie McEwan on the honour roll.
In 2011 Jones was involved in a serious racing accident, suffering critical head injuries after hitting a pothole in the Tour of Toowoomba.
He was in an induced coma after being flown to a Brisbane hospital. He had six months of intensive therapy to regain his balance and got back on the bike as soon as he could.
“After that, I realised I only had one shot at this so I gave it my all,” he said.