No waiting for the hills as winds cause splits on stage one of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour

Thu 1 Feb 2018

A windy day set up perfect conditions for thrilling racing as the peloton made their way from Colac to Warrnambool for stage one of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour

As the race echeloned into a finale only the riders on the road could keep up with the action as a group of 30 formed and then split to eight in what third placed Cameron Meyer described as a ‘chaotic’ final 30kilometres.

Lasse Norman Hansen (Aqua Blue Sport) sprinted to the stage victory and overall lead as the yellow jersey of Ed Clancy (JLT Condor) missed the crucial split.

Wind and coastal roads the perfect recipe:
The Great Ocean Road made the most scenic of backdrops and what Mitchelton-SCOTT anticipated as the perfect platform for some ‘gutter action’. 

It wasn’t to be early in the race but as it approached the final 30km and closer to Warrnambool the wind picked up and Mitchelton-SCOTT and Trek-Segafredo took advantage. 

There were splits and crashes across the road, but a select group of 20 riders got away and caught the day’s early breakaway of six riders to form a new front group.  But the attacks didn’t stop there as they tried to whittle the group even further.

Eventually a smaller group of eight split again, with Howson trying a late attack to the line only to be swept up in the reduced sprint to finish sixth.

No waiting for the hills:
With many eyes already looking forward to Saturday’s queen stage up Lake Mountain, Mitchelton-SCOTT was prepared to utilise the wind and go early on one of the ‘flatter’ stages of this year’s Jayco Herald Sun Tour.

The home WorldTour team positioned Meyer and defending champion Damien Howson in the front group, with Colombian climber Esteban Chaves in the second group at 23seconds giving them three cards to play for the general classification in the stages to come.

Tomorrow – Warrnambool to Ballarat:
Stage two begins again from today’s finish town of Warrnambool and heads towards the familiar Ballarat, home of the national championships. With just one ascent of the famous Buninyong climb isn’t expected to bother too many, except if the wind rears its head again… 

Cameron Meyer – 3rd place on stage:
“It was definitely chaotic in the last 30kilometres. We thought that after 80km when we hit the Great Ocean Road, echelons would form but they didn’t and finally when it split there were riders everywhere.

“Luckily we had enough in the front group so we committed and so did Trek and that was enough to put time into the yellow jersey and some other riders that were looking at the general classification.

“I jumped off the front with Howson in a group of eight riders that stayed away to the finish line for a sprint.

“We went in with an aggressive approach, it didn’t pan out exactly how we wanted it to but when it split we had five in the front group with Chaves, Hepburn and so we put ourselves in a good position for the GC.

“Myself, Howson and Chaves are all still up there so we have three good cards to play and there’s still a long way to go this week with some long stages to come.”

Damien Howson – Reigning champion:
"It was pretty crazy the last 30km, the groups were getting smaller and smaller and then kept coming back with different riders trying to get the right combination.

"We always had the numbers in our favour, unfortunately we didn’t get the stage win but it does set us up nicely for the rest of the week. 

"It was of a tail crosswind along the great ocean road and everybody knew that’s where it was potentially going to explode so everyone was super attentive.

"Maybe I few guys started to relax once we turned in land and that’s where it action started. We’ve had a good start with the prologue yesterday and today so we certainly still have cards to play."

Jayco Herald Sun Tour – Stage 1 Results:
1. Lasse Norman Hansen (Aqua Blue Sport)
2. Steele von Hoff (Bennelong Swisswellness) ST
3. Cameron Meyer (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST

Jayco Herald Sun Tour – General Classification after stage 1:
1. Lasse Norman Hansen (Aqua Blue Sport) 3:38:42
2. Cameron Meyer (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +9sec
3. Steele von Hoff (Bennelong Swisswellness) +10sec

Photo courtesy of Con Chronis.