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Grassfire interrupts Tour of the Murray

A grassfire at the finish line of yesterday's Tour of the Murray and strong cross-winds created havoc for riders.

ERIN LYONS August 1, 2014 3:05am

A grassfire in Cohuna has interrupted cyclists who will compete in the Tour of the Murray’s fifth stage today.The fire, about 3km from yesterday’s designated finish line, caused tour staff to bring the finish line forward 5km.The unexpected event did not faze the event leaders.Warragul’s Brenton Jones (Avanti Racing) continued to extend his lead, stretching his lead by 12 seconds.

‘‘Out of all the confusion today, the main positive is that we retained the yellow jersey and even increased the lead by winning the intermediate time bonus sprint during the race,’’ he said.

The Avanti Racing rider holds the overall lead, clocking a total race time of nine hours, 22 minutes, five seconds.

Jones was closely followed by Budget Forklift rider Jesse Kerrison (+12 seconds), who took out the second stage of the event.Other leader board climbers include Raphael Freinstein (+20) and Alex Wohler (+22).Aside from the unexpected fire, the weather has also been unkind to the riders.The unpredictable cross-winds caused many crashes, leaving only 30 riders to finish the contest yesterday.

Tour leader Jones said his success so far had not come easy because of the weather conditions.

‘‘There were a lot of challenging conditions out there with the weather,’’ he said.

‘‘I don’t mind the challenging cross-winds, but anything can happen.’’

The strong winds had also isolated some clubs or caused a few sprinters to separate from their teams.Jones holds strong in the sprint division, sitting three points in front of Freinstein and four ahead of Kerrison.Avanti Racing riders dominated the Kerang to Cohuna’s fourth stage of the tour, with two of Jones’ teammates finishing second and third respectively.

Today, the women join the men for the final three stages of the tour.

Echuca-Moama’s Minda Murray will compete in the women’s leg, which starts at 9.30am in Murray Esplanade.

The men’s leg starts at 2.30pm.

Erin Lyons

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