• Lasse Norman Hansen was the winner on a tough stage for the peloton. (Con Chronis)Source: Con Chronis
Lasse Norman Hansen (Aqua Blue Sport) has sprinted his way into the Jayco Herald Sun Tour leader’s jersey after a select bunch sprint on Stage 1.
Cycling Central

Jayco Herald Sun Tour
1 Feb 2018 - 4:07 PM  UPDATED 2 Feb 2018 - 5:13 AM

Less than 24 hours after bashing his handlebar in frustration, Lasse Norman Hansen is the jubilant leader of the Herald Sun Tour.

The 2012 Olympic track gold medallist won a reduced bunch sprint to take out the 161.6km first stage from Colac to Warrnambool.

Prologue time trial winner Ed Clancy (JLT Condor) missed the crucial break, meaning the stage winner also would take the race lead.

Norman Hansen finished third in Wednesday's prologue time trial, just .71 of a second behind Clancy, and the whack he gave his handlebar showed he was filthy with the near-miss.

This time there was no misjudgment.

Reigning Herald Sun Tour champion Damien Howson (Mitchelton Scott) attacked inside the last kilometre but was caught with less than 100m left and Hansen claimed the win.

"I'm super-stoked - the whole team did an amazing job today," Hansen said. "In the final, there was good racing, attacks left and right all the time."

Hansen has a nine-second overall lead ahead of Cameron Meyer, another Mitchelton Scott rider. He finished third at Warrnambool behind compatriot Steele Von Hoff (Bennelong Swiss Wellness).

Given the second half of the stage hugged the coast, crosswinds were always going to be a factor.

The race splintered in the last 25km thanks to a cross-tail wind, with the front group splitting again.

Hansen then made the small group who contested the finish.

The Dane won the omnium at the London Olympics. He also won bronze in the omnium and team pursuit at the Rio Games.

So far, the Tour has belonged to the track stars - Clancy is a three-time Olympic champion for Great Britain in the team pursuit.

But the end of Friday's 198.6km second stage from Warrnambool to Ballarat includes the Mt Buninyong climb, a key feature of the national championships course, and the overall contenders are certain to stake their claims.