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The Garmin-Sharp rider is the penultimate rider down the ramp and manages to beat long-time leader Tom Scully by less than a second on the 2.5km course to become the first leader of the race

Photo: Sirotti

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HERALD SUN TOUR

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WILLIAM CLARKE

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05.02.2014 @ 10:33 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp) kicked off his Jayco Herald Sun Tour campaign in the best possible way when he won the opening 2.5km prologue. The strong New Zealander was the penultimate rider down the ramp and powered around the course in a time of 3.00.9 which was enough to relegate long-time leader Tom Scully (New Zealand) to 2nd.

 

Garmin-Sharp got the upper hand over favourites Orica-GreenEDGE on the opening prologue of the historic Australian race when Jack Bauer won the opening prologue. The New Zealander blasted around the short 2.5km course in Melbourne in a time of 3.00.9 to become the first leader of the event.

 

The stage race is the oldest in Australia and is back on the UCI calendar for the 2014 edition. This has allowed the event to attract a very strong line-up which is spearheaded by ProTeams Cannondale, Garmin-Sharp and Orica-GreenEDGE. Tour Down Under winner and Australian road race champion Simon Gerrans has done nothing to hide his ambitions of completing the triple during the Australian summer.

 

However, Gerrans had certainly hoped for a better start as he could only manage 11th in the opening prologue that was completely dominated by Garmin-Sharp. In addition to Bauer's win, the team had previous winner Nathan Haas in 5th, sprinter Steel Von Hoff in 6th and time trial specialist Rohan Dennis in 7th.

 

For a long time, Tom Scully (New Zealand) found himself in the hot seat and he seemed that he could come away as a surprising first leader of the race. His time of 3.01.81 held off the challenges of several of the favourites until only Bauer and defending champion Calvin Watson (Australia) were still to finish their rides.

 

While Watson wasn't able to match Scully's speed, Bauer confirmed the good form he had already shown in the Tour Down Under. With the win, he becomes the first leader of the race ahead of Scully while William Clarke (Drapac) completed the top 3.

 

The race continues tomorrow with the first road stage. It heads to Geelong for the punchy 116 kilometre first stage to Ballarat, via Anakie and alongside the Brisbane Ranges, and it is widely expected that the sprinters will get their chance to shine.

 

A short opener

The 61st Herald Sun Tour kicked off with a 2.5km prologue in the streets of Melbourne. Due to the short distance, the stage was not expected to produce massive time differences but it would produce the first leader of the race and give a first indication of who will be in contention for the overall win when the race ends on Sunday.

 

The first rider down the ramp was James Rendall (African Wildlife Safaris) but it was Neil van der Ploeg (Avanti) who set the first time of reference. He spent a few minutes in the hot seat until William Clarke blasted around the course in a time of 3.02.51, 3 seconds faster than van der Ploeg.

 

Good ride for Von Hoff

Von Hoff confirmed his good condition shown during the Australian summer when he set a time that was good enough for 2nd. The next rider to attract some attention was young TT specialist Campbell Flakemore but the course was too short to his liking and he finished 6 seconds off the pace.

 

Young Felix English (Rapha Condor) proved his track credentials when he stormed around the course in a time that moved him into 2nd behind Clarke and the duo occupied the top 2 positions for a long time. The next rider to challenge them was previous winner Haas who set a time that moved him into 3rd.

 

Dennis off the pace

Anthony Giacoppo (Avanti) set a solid time of 3.06.70 but it was Scully who found himself in the spotlight when he knocked Clarke out of the hot seat. Not even Dennis who was widely tipped as a potential winner of the stage, could threaten the surprise lead for the New Zealander.

 

Simon Clarke became the best Orica-GreenEDGE rider with a time of 3.05.99 while track specialist Glenn O'Shea (Australia) had a disappointing ride with 3.07.01. All eyes were now on Gerrans, Bauer and Watson who were the final three riders who could realistically dethrone Scully.

 

Gerrans got his campaign off to a bad start as he could only manage 1th and instead it was Bauer who took the spoils. The New Zealander was the only rider to go under 3.01 and will wear the leader's jersey tomorrow when the race continues with the first road stage to Geelong.

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