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  “It’s also a massive confidence boost knowing that in the harder stages I can still be there and win the sprint. So it gives me a whole lot of confidence heading into the season."

Photo: Con Chronis

CHRIS FROOME

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HERALD SUN TOUR

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JACK BOBRIDGE

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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ONE PRO CYCLING

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PETER KENNAUGH

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TEAM SKY

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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05.02.2016 @ 19:41 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE) proved that he is much more than a sprinter when he won the dramatic and surprisingly selective second stage of the Herald Sun Tour. After a late climb and crosswinds had split the field, he joined a six-rider group in the finale and then beat Tanner Putt (Unitedhealthcare) and race leader Peter Kennaugh (Sky) in the sprint while the latter extended his overall lead.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Caleb Ewan: It’s a massive confidence boost to win such a tough stage

21-year-old sprinter Caleb Ewan has added another victory to his tally in an incredible start to the 2016 season. Already his third UCI win and ninth victory so far this season, Ewan powered ahead to take the honours, after a strong effort on the final climb of the day.

 

"It's a different finish to the usual sprints I contest," said Ewan. "It was much tougher than the usual sprint finishes that I’ve been used to this summer. The team rode awesome today, they kept me out of trouble and kept me near the front on all the climbs. I struggled through the middle climb, luckily they kept me near the front this last climb and it was actually harder than expected.

 

“I knew Kennaugh and Bobridge were going to be super strong over the top so I couldn’t let them go away, so I jumped on them and held on for my life really.

 

“It’s also a massive confidence boost knowing that in the harder stages I can still be there and win the sprint. So it gives me a whole lot of confidence heading into the season.

 

“That last lap was hectic, and the wind really picked up in the last hour and half of the race which made it really hard. Like it said, my team kept me up the front out of trouble and in the wheels so when we arrived at the climb was probably a lot fresher than the other guys.”

 

“It’s not the biggest win I’ve had this season, but I think the way I won it gives me a whole lot of confidence and that makes it really, really special for me.

 

“I heard whispers that Avanti was going to try and make it hard in the middle of the race, and they did exactly that. The whole race I was kept near the front with my team and always out of trouble, so I never had to fight for position or anything like that, it makes it a lot easier for me up the climbs. When we got to the climbs I was feeling pretty good.

 

“I felt quite exhausted coming to the Tour after all the racing I’ve done, and I am quite happy with how I performed today and I hope I can get the stage tomorrow as well," he concluded.

 

Sport director Matt Wilson was also happy with the team's performance, tackling the tough race to come out on top.

 

"It definitely wasn't straight forward, but it was a really good days racing. Avanti IsoWhey had a big shot at getting rid of Caleb through the middle of the circuit, he found it quite difficult and then at the finish with the wind it really started to split up.

 

"It was a really fantastic ride by everyone. With Jack (Haig) now fourth on general classification it heats things a bit and taking the stage win, it was a perfect day for us."

 

Peter Kennaugh: That was a really exciting stage

Peter Kennaugh stayed in the race lead at the Sun Tour with a fine third-place finish on day three.

Alongside team-mate Chris Froome, the pair attacked inside the final few kilometres and went clear with a group of six riders, going on to finish third and fourth on the stage.

 

Caleb Ewan (Orica GreenEdge) won the day but Kennaugh solidified his race lead and stayed at the top of the sprint classification. Froome stayed second overall, 13 seconds behind Kennaugh, although he did relinquish the King of the Mountains jersey to Chris Harper (Swiss Wellness).

 

Kennaugh was delighted afterwards and described a hectic day in the saddle.

 

He said: "You could explain it as dramatic I guess, the whole stage was quite exciting really. Avanti took it up on the main climb which was interesting. I wasn’t quite sure why, maybe they were going for the king of the mountain points but either way, it made for exciting racing and also made the stage hard.

 

"I think that's partly why it split in the crosswinds at the end, because everyone was racing on tired legs. Then we turned left towards that climb and I got on the radio to the guys, said give it everything, and it split pretty quickly.

 

"I gave it one last dig at the end but I knew it was always going to be hard to shake Caleb [Ewan] off. He stuck to my wheel though, so then I just stuck with him and rode in. I knew I'd dropped Bobridge so thought it was a good chance to get bonus seconds and extend my lead."

 

The Manxman admitted he enjoyed the stage, adding that it reminded him of racing as a junior.

 

"The first 40 minutes was full gas racing; everyone was trying to get in the break. It was always exciting and it's another good day in the office.

 

"There was no science involved in that for sure, it was just racing your bike. It was almost like being a junior again, just getting stuck in. It was a good bit of old school bike racing.

 

"That’s the beauty of cycling, you never quite know what to expect with some of these stages.

 

"It’s good that we have the upper hand I guess and weren’t caught out ourselves. The boys did a fantastic job. We were just at the front covering moves all day. They love to race hard out here. The first 40 minutes was just full gas racing, everyone trying to get into the break. That’s always exciting and another day in the office.

 

“Once we got over the final climb, I said to myself ‘just sit on now and don’t do a single turn’. I thought just one big move and if I was going to do it, it was going to be into that final corner, just before the one k to go and try and catch them by surprise but it was hard because of the headwind," he explained. "By the time I made my attack, they’d all seen it because the wind was so strong but I managed to gain a bit of time on Jack Bobridge, which is never a bad thing.

 

“I am quite excited for Sundays race to be honest. Hopefully, take it up on that climb and either Froome or me will be up for trying to go for another stage win.”

 

Chris Froome: This was a lot harder than I had expected

Froome was equally pleased with the stage, although he was surprised with how it played out.

 

He said: "It didn't go quite as planned today. We'd expected a big bunch sprint but it was a bit more selective than that. It was a good day all-in-all though - the guys did a great job controlling things and we had Pete finish in third place - so we're happy with that.

 

"There was a bit of wind out there which definitely shook things up before the final climb, but that's all part of it. I was bit tired after yesterday's effort but it was a good day in the saddle and that's another stage done. It was beautiful scenery out on the road.

 

"Tomorrow should be interesting. It could be another day like today's where the wind plays a factor, so let's see how it plays out."

 

Strong Jack Bobridge moves into third at the Herald Sun Tour

Jack Bobridge went on the offensive in stage two at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, attacking early and then again late, to launch himself from 8th to 3rd place in the overall classification.

 

Bobridge's solo move ahead of the first sprint saw him grab three bonus seconds, and in the final climb of the 144.2-kilometer stage, he bolted away again, creating a select six-man group that arrived at the finish to contest the win.

 

"Coming into the finish lap with 14kms to go it was a little bit hectic after the king of the mountains, but the team did a fantastic job to keep me in really good position," explained Bobridge.

 

"In the last lap, Sky went full gas into the crosswind before the final climb with 8-10 kilometers to go. I was just waiting in good position, and I attacked 500 meters before the top of the climb and six of us got away. Then I just rode full in the final kilometers to get as much time for the GC before the last day."

Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky) hurled a late flyer with one kilometer remaining, but to no avail. In the final meters, Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) shifted into top gear and handily overtook the race leader, leaving a shattered lead group in his wake.

 

Bobridge crossed the line with Chris Froome (Sky) five seconds later to take fifth place in what turned out to be a brutal, wind-swept ending to a hard stage.

 

"That last attack and the effort afterward cost my sprint a little bit at the finish, I didn't have anything left, but it was good," added Bobridge. "I knew I was sitting in third on GC, so I just kept going maximum to the line to get a much time as possible for the mountain top finish on Sunday."

 

Kennaugh safely guarded his leader's jersey, and Froome maintained his second place (+13") while Bobridge jumped from eighth to third (+31"). To cap off the successful team effort, Niccolo

 

Bonifazio won the sprint from the peloton to claim 7th, and Fumy Beppu was close on his heels in 10th.

 

ONE Pro Cycling lose ground at the Herald Sun Tour

Thinking ahead to the end of the race and taking into consideration the final climb at 50km to go, ONE Pro Cycling anticipated the group to split and forecasted a bunch sprint finish. With that in mind it was decided the plan for the day was to protect Dion Smith and James Oram, for the General Classification while setting Steele Von Hoff up for the sprint.

 

For most of the stage, Sky and Orica controlled the tempo and while there were several short breakaways but nothing stayed away.  Coming into the second climb Avanti IsoWhey put the pressure on the front and tried to split the race and isolate the sprinters in the group. This pressure over the final two climbs proved to be too much and the race split theinto three groups. Dion Smith and James Oram positioned themselves in the front group giving them the chance to stay in the runnings with Richard Handley coming over the summit only 20 secs  behind. Meanwhile Kristen House, Joshua Hunt and Steele Von Hoff were in a large group further back and started working on the front to bridge the gap and gain some formation once again.

 

After an impressive effort chasing on the descent the race regrouped and all of ONE Pro Cycling we’re present with 25km to go. The weather was starting to take its toll, with strong winds ripping through the bunch and continuing to get stronger as the riders passed through the finish line for the first time at 15km to go. There was lots of action as every team looked to position themselves well for the finish, Sky and Orica made the decision to put the field under pressure in the crosswinds. On the run in to the final small but significant unclassified climb of the day they continued to increase the pressure and fragment the field as they approached the bottom. ONE Pro Cycling were organised and together at this point as the rapid pace continued. Over the top of the climb a group of 6 had forced clear under the pressure causing Dion Smith and James Oram to join a large chase group of 25 riders with 5km to go.

 

At this point Avanti – Isowhey couldn’t chase after their earlier exertions on the climbs and with the other key teams such as Sky, Orica and Trek all represented, it fell to ONE Pro Cycling to lead the chase. James Oram and Dion Smith rode full gas in the finals 5km to minimise any gain by the breakaway group, putting the chase group under significant pressure in the process. Unfortunately this small escape meant ONE Pro Cycling lost a couple of places on General Classification. Dion Smith now sitting 5th overall at 52 seconds and James Oram in 13th at 58 seconds but with two days of racing left, it’s all to play for.

 

Young Novo Nordisk riders get experience at the Sun Tour

“The riders rode well together throughout the early climbs, but it was the last climb and the final circuit that really shattered the peloton. There was an intense crosswind heading into finish followed by a hard headwind. Brian Kamstra (NED) managed to minimize the gap and I think he really gained some experience racing in these conditions today,” Team Novo Nordisk Sport Director Pavel Cherkasov said after the stage.

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