Sky was the limit as team quinella stage
TEAM Sky have flexed their muscles at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, strangling a blisteringly-fast Stage 3 with a dominant one-two finish.
Welsh pair Owain Doull and Luke Rowe surged clear of a nine-man breakaway in the last 5km of a gruelling 161.6km mission from Sale to Warragul.
The race finished more than 40 minutes ahead of schedule after the 84-man peloton whipped along at an average speed of 46.4km/h.
Rowe let his Cardiff compatriot Doull take the win on the line — his first professional victory on the road after being part of Great Britain’s world record pursuit team at the 2016 Olympics.
“I’m buzzing, actually,” Doull said at the finish.
“We earmarked today’s stage as a potential day for the break to go … and we were both pretty keen.”
Race leader Michael Woods and title rival Richie Porte finished safely in the peloton ahead of Saturday’s decisive summit finish on Arthurs Seat.
But all the fireworks happened up the road as seven riders — Will Clarke, Nathan Elliott, Neil Van Der Ploeg, Conor Murtagh, Liam White, Luke Mudgway and Ryan Cavanagh — joined the Sky pair in a lead group that finally formed after 45km.
It lasted another 100km before Rowe and Doull used their numerical advantage to make their move.
“The gap was coming down pretty quick … so we said: ‘With 5km to go we’ll start one-two’ing’,” Doull said.
“Luke went first, but didn’t quite get the gap. I went over the top, I got a gap and then Luke jumped across.”
Rowe’s last professional win came almost two years ago when he won Stage 2 of the 2017 Herald Sun Tour. A big crash 35km into the stage took down several riders, with national road champion Michael Freiberg and Carter Turnbull abandoning the race.