• Damien Howson wins the 2017 Jayco Herald Sun Tour (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Orica-Scott expertly controlled the peloton and the breakaway to keep their man Damien Howson in the Herald Sun Tour lead and the general classification intact. At the front of the race, Ian Stannard (Sky) launched a perfectly timed solo attack in the final kilometre to take line honours. Just.
By
Cycling Central

5 Feb 2017 - 4:09 PM  UPDATED 5 Feb 2017 - 5:22 PM

In the break all day, Stannard survived the final time up the Kinglake climb, obviously fancying his chances for stage victory. Pulling clear with a powerful kick, the gap was comfortable enough for the Essex man to relax a little in the approach to the line. 

But he relaxed a little too much and was nearly surprised by runner up Aaron Gate (Aqua Blue Sport) and the man with possibly the best name in the peloton at the moment, Taco Van Der Hoorn (Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij). 


Howson said the breakaway played into his team's plan perfectly. 

"It was the perfect situation for us at the start of the day with no GC contenders up the road. The race was really up the back and my team from the get-go were committed to the cause.

"Everyone gave more than they could and at the end of the day to put your hands up in the air in the yellow jersey following an impressive week - I'm really happy."

Interview with the winner

Interview with Froome 

As it happened

The break of the day slipped off the front as the first climb loomed and had blown out to 17 riders and a one minute and four second advantage the first time across the start/finish line. 

A strategic Ben Hill (Attaque Team Gusto) made it into the move with team mate Timothy Guy hoping to scoop up as many of the 80 maximum KOM points out on course (20 each lap). Overnight, Hill led the KOM competition by 16 points over Robbie Hucker (IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness). 

While Hucker was also worryingly along for the break, Hill took out the first three KOMs. 

The most dangerous rider general classification wise in the break was Jason Christie (New Zealand) with his overnight deficit to Howson of four minutes and 51 seconds. But despite a peak to the leaders of over four minutes at various moments throughout the stage, Orica-Scott was never in danger of losing Howson's lead to Christie. 

Orica-Scott didn't have everything their own way though with Froome trying a move off the front with team mates Kenny Elissonde and Luke Rowe on the third lap up the climb. But with the help of St. George Continental Cycling Team and their own dedication to rewarding workhorse Howson with the overall win, Orica-Scott reeled the Sky boys back in. 

The extra work of Korda-Mentha to protect Jai Hindley's second step on the podium and possibly to try a move for Cameron Meyer (fourth on GC), saw the gap to the now six rider lead group reduced right down to less than two minutes with nine kilometres to go.

Sensing a possible Meyer move on the final climb, Ellisonde responded to a Ben Dyball (St George) flurry. Froome then attacked Howson, but the 24-year-old was able to hold on.

Nothing it seemed was going to break Howson and Orica-Scott today.