A final finish of fourth overall does not quite do young Swedish rider Freddie Johansson justice in the Tour of the South. The 20 year old Plowman Craven RT rider was one of only two riders in the break of five on the opening day, not from the UCI division 3 pro outfit ReCycling.co.uk.
Chris Newton has been at the top of the British and World track scene for over a decade and has World titles, Olympic medals as well as victories in races such as the Circuit des Mines in France to his name.
The eighty five mile stage one took the field from Crawley and included Milland Hill, a notoriously tough 25% gradient near the finish at Liphook in Hampshire. Johansson fought hard against the three team mates and finished in a well deserved third place in a sprint for the line with Newton taking the win and yellow jersey.
Stage two took in a rolling circuit around Long Crendon in Oxfordshire. With a lone winner on the 80 mile stage, Malcolm Elliott snatched second place for Plowman Craven ahead of Newton with Tony Gibb and James Taylor coming home in fourth and fifth. Johansson rolled in comfortably in the main field, but this stage finish was to be a costly mistake come the final day.
With Newton leading overall in the yellow jersey, points and king of the mountains competitions it was Johansson and Taylor who raced in these jerseys.
Another decisive break took off on the eighty three mile stage three to Malmesbury in Wiltshire. Once again Johansson made sure he was in the move, coming home in ninth. Newton who also was in the break still lead overall.
After the stage he said “My legs were tired today, but for me I’m happy because I’m reading the race well and this is something I haven’t done for well for a while. It’s the confidence of having my team mates behind me that is making the difference”
The final stage four enjoyed cooler conditions than the previous stages and took the riders from Tavistock along the edge of Dartmoor. After an early break was reeled in, it was the turn of Plowman Cravens youngest rider Adam Norris who was guesting for the Surrey League composite team, to have a go.
Norris who was last years British junior road race champion has showed tremendous determination and dedication this year in what is always a difficult transition from going from junior to senior. Norris like Johansson is a road rider and has suffered slightly on the programme of criteriums and lack of major road races this summer.
The break swept in towards the line and in the closest finish of the race Adam just missed out to Matt Talbot of Glendene CC for the victory, it took a photo finish to separate them.
As the bunch closed in to the finish Johansson was edged out by ReCyclings Rob Partridge in the sprint, the result of which left the two riders on the same time and Partridge awarded the third place overall by virtue of the points awarded for stage finishes.
“I have to say I’m disappointed with losing third overall on the final stage especially on points. I’m now going to spend more time on the track to learn to sprint better” Freddie said with a smile.
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