Fast, frantic finish in the penultimate stage of the Jayco Herald Sun TourSat 6 Feb 2016
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 HealthCare'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 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 year's 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 48seconds behind the race leader.
"Tomorrow is a new opportunity," continued Wilson. "With a hard stage around Arthurs Seat, hopefully we can get one of our boys on the podium and finish the tour off on a high."
How it happened:
On a blistering hot day the riders set off from Traralgon with some tired legs among the peloton. A group of five riders were allowed to gain an advantage soon after the start flag dropped.
This included Russell Downing (JLT Condor), Morgan Smith (Kenyan Riders Down under), Daniel Bonello (St George Merida Cycling Team), Thomas Hubbard (Data#3 Cisco Racing Team ) and Benjamin Hill (Attaque Team Gusto.)
The five escapees worked together cohesively and with the added bonus of a tail wind they were quickly able to establish a gap of over three-minutes on the steady peloton.
Behind there was no real hurry to bring the breakaway back, therefore the five riders found themselves dangling out the front for the majority of the day. Similar to yesterday's stage, ORICA-GreenEDGE sent Canadian Meier and New Zealander Bewley to the front of the bunch to fulfil their team duties and take up the chase.
As the peloton rolled along the heavy roads it came down to the final ten kilometres to go when the diminished breakaway riders where finally swallowed up. The teams then had to navigate through a fast, twisty downhill finish, as ORICA-GreenEDGE set the pace at the head of the race with Mitch Docker last lead out man for the young sprinter.
After a sharp left hand turn 400m to go the road opened up and riders found themselves being swamped from the charge behind. It was every man for himself in the closing meters with Ewan concluding the stage in a respectable sixth place.
The final 121.8km left to race in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour takes place tomorrow morning with a loop starting and finishing in Arthurs Seat.
Jayco Herald Sun Tour Stage 3 Results:
1. John Murphy (UHC) 3:20:52
2. Niccolo Bonifazio (TFS) ST
3. Steele Von Hoff (ONE) ST
6. Caleb Ewan (OGE) ST
General Classification after stage 3:
1. Peter Kennaugh (SKY) 9:54:13
2. Chris Froome (SKY) +13
3. Jack Bobridge (TFS) +31
4. Jack Haig (OGE) +48