A flat tyre in the final kilometres meant Joe Cooper from the Subway - Avanti Pro Cycling team had to settle for second on stage six of the Air France Tour of New Caledonia yesterday, but he consolidated his position overall in the tour’s top three.
Cooper had his flat tire five kilometres from the finish and according to Subway - Avanti Pro Cycling team mate Nick Lovegrove lost about 55 seconds to Lachlan Norris who now leads the tour.
Cooper is third overall on general classification (GC) two minutes and forty one seconds behind Norris.
“We arrived at the base of the final climb with the peloton around six minutes behind the break which went clear after 30 kilometres,” Lovegrove said.
“I had been in an earlier move which was caught at 25 kilometres. We chilled in the bunch until the climb which was an epic 16 kilometres of gravel (13km uphill) with gradients over 10 percent.”
“Joe was safely at the front leading into the gravel so my job was done and I opted to ride at my own pace rather than to try and preserve 10th on GC,” Lovegrove said.
“We're here to win and it made sense to conserve energy in case it’s needed in the later stages. Joe is pretty disappointed at losing more time but punctures happen especially on the rough gravel roads. We'll be working hard to get it back.”
A third member of the Subway - Avanti Pro Cycling team Ryan Wills finished eighth on the stage three minutes and fifty six seconds behind Norris.
Lovegrove is now 16th on GC nineteen minutes from the lead with on general classification, and is Wills has moved up to 29th twelve minutes behind Lovegrove.
Today’s 104 kilometre stage contains four good climbs where Cooper hopes to make up time on the leader’s yellow jersey. It starts in Kone and goes through Poindimié before finishing in Tribe Bayes.