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AT JUST 26 years of age Will Walker is already in danger of being upstaged by young upstarts.
Nanjing Night Net

With this in mind, the jovial Victorian was not going to let his age-challenged rivals get the better of him at the Caterpillar Underground Mining Tour of Tasmania yesterday.

Dropped on the stage’s category one climb at Gunns Plains, Walker showed the steely resolve that carried him to the 2006 national road race championship, bridging back to the 25-man lead group.

He then launched a perfectly timed sprint up Penguin’s main street to take the Tour’s sixth stage, ahead of Tasmanian Jai Crawford and Blair Windsor.

“I saw these young guys, and I just thought, sometimes they have just got to be beaten,” Walker said with a laugh.

“I feel absolutely exhausted. I started this week not in the best condition after a nice little holiday in Malaysia, and not much bike riding existed on that holiday.

“Each day I have got a little bit better.”

Walker’s triumph made it three wins in as many days for Drapac Professional Cycling.

In even better news for the squad Lachlan Norris was able to extend his overall lead over Team Budget Forklifts’ Mark O’Brien after picking up a valuable two-second time bonus over his rival on the Gunns Plains climb.

O’Brien had tried to unhinge Norris on the lower slopes but the former under 23 national mountain bike champion proved why many are tipping him to take out this year’s crown.

“A great, great result for us in the end,” a relieved Norris said after the stage.

“Obviously we were pretty nervous with this stage being a hard stage and I knew Marko (O’Brien) and the boys would be trying to have a go at me on the climb there.

“I was really pleased, the legs were going OK, then just coming into the finish was super fast the whole way, so I was just really stoked for Will to finish it off for us.”

With the riders still facing three North-West stages, including today’s undulating pedal through Natone, Ridgley and West Mooreville, Norris stressed the importance of teamwork.

“I think we have shown today the team is really strong,” Norris said.

“We work together really well as a team and I think that is going to be the key to getting through the end of the tour.

“We will just stick together and try and control the race as much as we can.”

Victorian cyclist Will Walker celebrates winning the Ulverstone to Penguin stage in the Tour of Tasmania. Picture: Jason Hollister.

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