Two years of hard work has paid off for Albury cyclist Jesse Featonby after posting his best win on Sunday.
The Tour of Bright victory was an early birthday present for Featonby, who turns 31 on Saturday.
“The Tour of Bright was my first race once I made the move across from triathlon, so I guess it’s been two years in the making,” he said.
“It’s the only race which goes up two massive mountain passes in Australia, so I’m absolutely stoked.
“I worked really hard for it and fitting it in with a full-time job’s always tough.”
The schoolteacher battled Mount Hotham, which is 1861m above sea level, while the gruelling Tawonga Gap is 750m.
“The time trial, which doesn’t really suit me, I’ve been working really hard to get better at that (he finished 10th) and that built my confidence,” he said of the tricky opening leg.
“The second stage (to the top of Tawonga Gap) I knew I had the legs and I went really early so with about three k (kilometres) to go, I was on my own.
“You’re in the lead, so everyone is watching you on that last stage, so I had to follow every attack and make decisions in my head who I could let get up the road, who I had to chase down, who I didn’t have to worry about, so there’s all these mind games, tactics come into play.”
The final leg, from Bright to Mount Hotham, was dominated by Featonby’s Drapac team, securing an overall win by 28 seconds in his most consistent effort.
“I’ve won stages of tours before and performed well in stages internationally, but to win the overall event, I had to piece together three consistent legs so that was the best achievement that I’ve been able to put together,” he said.
Featonby says there’s an enormous difference between triathlons, which he also contested at an elite level.
“It’s super hard, triathlon was obviously one day where you’d put in your best effort and then you’d have time to recover for your next event,” he said.
“In bike racing you’ve got day after day of hard racing.
“You’ve got to give your best effort but, then you think, ‘tomorrow, am I going to pay for it? How’s this going to affect me?’.”
It’s been a rollercoaster year for Featonby, who took a break from the sport after a horror crash during the Sun Tour in January.
He came off at more than 60kmh and never recovered, finishing 63rd.
Featonby also grabbed second at the National Capital Tour in Canberra during October.
He’s now preparing for January’s Road National Championships in Ballarat, a noted hilly course, which suits Featonby.
“Yeah, hill climbing, 100 per cent,” he said.
“It suits my body type and suits the way I race.”
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