Howson wraps up Jayco Herald Sun Tour with third place overallSun 7 Feb 2016
On the final day of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, 23-year-old Damien Howson had the ride of his life to finish second place on the stage, subsequently moving him up into third overall in the general classification.
ORICA-GreenEDGE headed into the day with it all to play for, rounding up their Australian summer campaign in fine style finishing third (Howson) and fifth (Jack Haig) overall.
Howson finished the stage only 17seconds down on the overall race winner Chris Froome (Team Sky.)
As the peloton headed up the climb for the final time, Froome had an advantage of 27seconds back to the peloton as Howson launched his attack at the bottom of the tough iconic climb and was able to take his first podium for the team.
"This stage in particular is always standout in the tour," explained Howson after the race. "It pretty much comes down to who's got the best legs on the last lap. Team Sky took control of the race today and it took until us the last lap to open it up and see if we could break them."
"My team-mate Jack Haig was sitting comfortably behind with the yellow jersey wearer, so it was a matter of trying to wear down the team (Sky) and also take my own chances, knowing that if it all came back that Haig was ready to pounce.
"I'm really happy to finish off the week third overall. It was a target for myself and the team, so to fulfiil that I'm really proud. This is my first podium since I have been with ORICA-GreenEDGE after a string of fourth places."
After one victory and two second place finishes, the team concluded their race with a spot on the podium. Sport director Matt Wilson was happy with the team's performances and their success throughout the Australian summer.
"After the first day we saw how strong Team Sky was, so it was a battle just to try and get on the podium on this stage but thats what we were hoping for," Wilson said.
"I'm very happy with the day, Damien took his chance as we had discussed before the start, and credit to Jack as he stuck with the team plan so it worked out really well in the end. It's been a very successful summer for us here in Australia."
How it Happened:
In the final race of the Australian summer programme, the riders set off from the start/finish line on Arthur's Seat marking the end of the 63rd edition of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.
It was a fast start once again as teams fought to establish a breakaway early on. ORICA-GreenEDGE were attentive and at the 20km mark Mitch Docker snuck off the front in a five man breakaway, however it was immediately shut down by the race leaders Team Sky. Instantly a counter attack from three riders looked like it could gain an advantage, but as the bigger teams also attempted to jump across including Canadian Christian Meier, it was once again chased down.
The next counter attack by Fumiyuki Buppu (Trek-Segafredo) after 25km of racing created the move of the race and Caleb Ewan was able to jump straight on to the wheel. Pat Shaw (Avanti IsoWhey) and Ben Hill (Attaque Team Gusto) joined the duo and formed a four-man breakaway. The group were given freedom to ride away and gain a maximum advantage of one minute 46seconds.
After the second intermediate sprint, the break began to split and and Ewan was reeled back in. Meier taking his turn for the team, rode off the front of the peloton along with Australian Travis Meyer (Drapac). The duo quickly advanced up to the two remaining escapees and forced an advantage of one minute, as they turned back towards the first ascent of Arthur's Seat.
A furious pace into the initial part of the climb rapidly brought the riders back into the peloton and the race was on. Over the summit the first time the peloton exploded in to numerous groups with ORICA-GreenEDGE's Howson, Haig and Mitch Docker in the front 20.
The gap to the front group continued to grow as Team Sky set a high pace on the second time up the prestigious climb. With only 16km to go Joe Cooper (Avanti IsoWhey) and Froome broke away over the top and looked to shake up the classification.
In a last chance attempt Howson attacked at the bottom of the three kilometre climb and began to close in on Froome as Cooper dropped back. It was an exhilarating final two kilometres, Johnathon Clark (United Healthcare) bridged across to Howson, and the two riders fought hard to close in on Froome and gain as many seconds as possible at the finish.
Howson crossed the line exhausted from his efforts to take second place and just clinched the extra seconds over Jack Bobridge (Trek-Segafredo) to wind up on the overall podium. Haig rounded up the race finishing the stage in respectable sixth place and fifth overall.
ORICA-GreenEDGE now head overseas as they prepare for the first European races at the end of February.
Jayco Herald Sun Tour Stage 4 Results:
1. Chris Froome (Sky) 2:58:44
2. Damien Howson (OGE) +17
3. Johnathan Clarke (UHT) +21
Overall General Classification:
1. Chris Froome (Sky) 12:53:0
2. Peter Kennaugh (Sky) +29
3. Damien Howson (OGE) +1:01