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“I don’t really think any sprinter’s unbeatable. If you have the right team in front of you, you can win anything you want.”

Photo: Feltet.dk

CHRIS FROOME

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HERALD SUN TOUR

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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NICCOLÓ BONIFAZIO

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ONE PRO CYCLING

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PETER KENNAUGH

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TEAM NOVO NORDISK

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TEAM SKY

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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UNITEDHEALTHCARE PRO CYCLING

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06.02.2016 @ 19:31 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

John Murphy (Unitedhealthcare) created a massive surprise when he came out on top in the bunch sprint on the third stage of the Herald Sun Tour which had been expected to come down to another dominant showing by Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE). Unitedhealthcare did everything right to position their sprinter before the final corner and then he held off Niccolo Bonifazio (Trek-Segafredo) in a photo finish, with Ewan rolling across the line in sixth. Peter Kennaugh (Sky) defended the overall lead on the eve of the queen stage.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

John Murphy: Caleb Ewan is not unbeatable

It was third time lucky at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour for American sprinter John Murphy (UnitedHealthcare) as he celebrated an upset stage victory in the seaside town of Inverloch on Saturday.

 

Murphy, now 31, began his pro career in Australia at the event in 2006, then returned to the race last year but scored his first Australian victory today.

 

A photo finish deemed Murphy the winner of Stage 3 over Niccolo Bonifazio (Trek – Segafredo), with Australian Steele Von Hoff (ONE Pro Cycling) rounding out the podium.

 

Murphy positioned himself to perfection, with a short descent and a narrow 90-degree left-hand bend in the final kilometre of the stage into Inverloch.

 

“Coming out of the corner, I thought the corner was a little bit further from the line so when I came out of the corner, I realised I had to start,” he explained. “Boom! Just go from there and hope I can hold it to the line. It was a really close finish with Bonifazio so I’m definitely pretty happy to just have that photo.

 

“Usually in a photo finish, you know when you’re beat and you don’t know when you’ve won. I didn’t know so it thought maybe I had it and Bonifazio knew he’d lost so that’s what gave it away to me.

 

“It took me a minute to digest that for sure I had won and once I had it, I was happy to celebrate with my teammates."

 

“I don’t really think any sprinter’s unbeatable,” Murphy said following his win. “If you have the right team in front of you, you can win anything you want.”

 

“UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling was unbelievable today. They took me in to that last corner in perfect position and all I had to do was just my sprint. When you take on the favourite, you’ve just got to know your strengths against him,” Murphy explained. “For me, I couldn’t let him start in front of me. So I wanted to make sure I started ahead of him, and if he comes around, he comes around.

 

"This year I wanted to make sure I capitalised on some results and victories that I had last year. This race is super important to come and build motivation for the team and show I have the speed to do what I wanted to do and mission accomplished.”

 

Hesitation costs Niccolo Bonifazio first win for Trek-Segafredo

Niccolo Bonifazio came within an inch of claiming victory in stage three of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour Saturday, edged at the line by John Murphy (Unitedhealthcare) in a breathtaking photo finish. Steele Van Hoff (One Pro Cycling) rounded out the top three.

 

"We had a plan today to go for Niccolo," explained director Kim Andersen to the Trek-Segafredo. "We knew that in a sprint normally [Caleb] Ewan is faster, but we also knew that anything can happen, especially with the last tricky turn. It was very close, a photo finish, but yet another time we are second - it has to change one time!"

 

The peloton easily controlled a five-man breakaway that escaped early in the predominantly flat 146.2km race, resulting in the anticipated bunch sprint. The only caveat was a tricky downhill fast corner ahead of the finish line.

 

"The team was fantastic today," said Bonifazio. "Everyone was there for me all day and then in the finale Eugenio [Alafaci] dropped me off at 500 meters to go. It was perfect, but after the last turn I underestimated how close the finish was, and I think I waited a little bit too long. It's really too bad because it was very, very close."

 

With the peloton finishing in the same time, the overall classification remains unchanged. Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky) continues to lead ahead of his teammate Chris Froome while Trek-Segafredo's Jack Bobridge maintains third place.  The five-day race concludes tomorrow with the marked queen stage, and an uphill finish will determine the final GC.

 

Steele von Hoff close to maiden victory for ONE Pro Cycling

Following a pre-race recce of the course, it was clear there was a high possibility for crosswinds throughout the stage. With this in mind the plan for the day for ONE Pro Cycling was to use the wind to the team’s advantage and attempt to split the group in the second half of the race. However it soon became clear that other teams had a similar idea and it was decided other options would have to be explored.

 

The race was tactical but very controlled with Orica and Sky managing the tempo of the group throughout. This suited ONE Pro Cycling as they aimed to concentrate all of their efforts on the final result. In the closing stages of the race, the team reevaluated and decided to ride as a unit to deliver Steele von Hoff to the line.

 

On the final left hand turn with 300 meters to go, ONE Pro Cycling got themselves organised, setting up Von Hoff in a strong position going into the finishing corner. The bunch sprint sprung to life in the last 200m and Steele Von Hoff jumped round his last lead out man Dion Smith to execute a trademark sprint claiming third on the line behind Murhpy (UHC) and Bonifazio (TFS).

 

Disappointed Caleb Ewan misses out in Sun Tour bunch sprint

With one stage left to go in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Stage 2 winner Caleb Ewan finished the day in sixth place after a well fought downhill finish into Inverloch. United Health Care's John Murphy took the stage honours in tight photo finish.

 

Sport director Matt Wilson was pleased with the team's performance working to set up Ewan in the finale.

 

"It was a really good effort by the boys again today. Christian Meier did an amazing job on the front along with Sam Bewley to bring the breakaway back in the final.  It ended up being a really messy finish."

 

He went on to add: "I'm sure Caleb (Ewan) will be a little bit disappointed but we did all we could and there is still one day left to go."

 

With one stage remaining in this years edition of the race, the riders have to focus once more as they head in to a tough stage, taking on the prestigious 'Arthurs seat' climb. ORICA-GreenEDGE's 22 year old Jack Haig remains in fourth position overall in the general classification just 48 seconds behind the race leader.

 

"Tomorrow is a new opportunity," continued Wilson. "With a hard stage around Arthur's seat, hopefully we can get one of our boys on the podium and finish the tour off on a high."

 

Peter Kennaugh: If Froome is feeling good, he will attack

Race leader Peter Kennaugh was kept out of trouble on a fast day at the Herald Sun Tour to maintain his overall lead.

 

As expected stage three ended in a sprint finish and John Murphy (United HealthCare) took the win, beating Niccolo Bonifazo (Trek-Segafredo) in a photo finish.

 

Luke Rowe finished tenth for Team Sky and Kennaugh maintained his 13-second race lead from team-mate Chris Froome, who remains 18 seconds ahead of Jack Bobridge (Orica GreenEdge) in the general classification.

 

It was an uneventful stage down under as a five-man break went clear after 12.5km and stayed out for the majority of the day, being caught with nine kilometres of the 142km stage left.

Unlike yesterday, when the peloton was strung out and blown apart by crosswinds inside the last 10km, preventing the expected bunch finish, the race unfolded as predicted before the sprint erupted into Lyndoch.

 

Speaking after the stage, Kennaugh admitted he was relieved that the day was a little more straightforward after some all-action racing this week.

 

He said: "It was quite a straightforward day today which was really nice after the last few stages which have been all go and quite hectic. It was nice to sit back, keep the cadence low and the legs fresh for tomorrow.

 

"We did a bit of work with [Orica] GreenEdge to control the break and then it was up to them for the sprint really, having the favourite [Caleb Ewan], and you see what happened at the end. It was a nice change.

 

“People in my position just have to stay upright and not lose any time. So once it gets to a point where it’s getting a little bit dangerous and a few risks are being taken it’s time to sort of drift back a bit and keep things safe and let the sprinters do their thing.”

 

The race will be decided on the final day with three ascents of the fearsome Arthurs Seat and Kennaugh is relishing the challenge of holding onto the leader's jersey.

 

He added: "I can’t read the future but it’s a different climb to the first day. Obviously, it’s a lot shorter and you saw yesterday on the shorter climbs that Jack Bobridge and other guys can hold their own so I think it will be a different kind of race and a different style of racing. We're just going to take things one-step at a time in the stage, see how the legs are. If Froomey is feeling super good, obviously it will be up to him to have an attack. He can do what he wants but I am sure we’ll have a strategy sorted by tomorrow and take it from there.

 

“I don’t really know a lot of the riders. Obviously, a lot of the domestic teams have strong guys and it’s their summer and they’re all going well but I don’t know the names. I am sure there are guys who are mega up for it. The Avanti team seems quite strong on the climbs so we’ll just have to watch out for guys like that I guess. We have a bit of a cushion on GC over a few people but still, it would be nice to be able to finish off with a stage win.

 

"It would mean absolutely everything [to win the race]. Obviously winning the Cadel race and then coming here and winning the first stage was a massive bonus in itself. If I can hold onto the GC I'll go home a happy boy that's for sure.

 

"It means you can relax a bit and then start the preparation for the next couple of races with good confidence and morale going forwards. Fingers crossed.

 

Chris Froome: The goal is to win the race with Kennaugh

Meanwhile Froome seems happy to let his teammate keep the spotlight, saying: “I’m pretty sure [Kennaugh] he’ll be alright. He’s in good nick and he’s feeling good.

 

"On paper it’s been marked as the decisive stage tomorrow. I think we are in a great position going into the stage with Pete in first and myself in second and hopefully a strong team around us to get the job done.

 

"That would be massive, it would be a great win for him, it would be a great win for the team. That’s the plan."

 

Benjamin Hill back in the sprints jersey at the Sun Tour

While little could be gained from the two Cat.3 King of the Mountains primes in terms of the battle for the Budget Forklifts polka dot jersey, Benjamin Hill was determined to regain the lead in the Chain Reaction Cycles green sprint jersey which he lost on Friday to Kennaugh.

 

“Yesterday was a bit disappointing,” Hill admitted. “I tried to get in the move yesterday and just didn’t get in it – then I was tired and missed the split over the hill. It was a bit easier to slip in today.”

 

“We all worked pretty well together,” he continued. “The other guys all raced for the KOM and none of us were on the KOM so I wasn’t too fussed. I just rode hard, made sure we got to the sprints and once we got there, they let me have the sprints. That was all pretty easy.”

 

Hill now holds a six-point lead over Kennaugh in the sprint classification.

 

Novo Nordisk neo-pro achives best ever result in Sun Tour sprint

Team Novo Nordisk’s neo-pro Brian Kamstra (NED) earned his best result to date when he sprinted to 15th place on Saturday’s Stage 3 of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.

 

“Brian has amazing form right now,” Team Novo Nordisk’s James Glasspool said. “Brian and Gerd [De Keizer] were leading me out but things got hectic in the final kilometers and we lost each other. Brian passed me and was able to take the last turn at full speed.”

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