Luke Rowe (Team Sky) won stage 2 of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Australia on Friday after attacking from the day’s break, taking his first victory since 2012.
The Welshman had bided his time in the day’s 10-man escape group, and chose to make his move on the day’s final climb.
Rowe’s former breakaway companion Irishman Conor Dunne (Aqua Blue Sport) came in for second at 33 seconds, with American Tanner Putt (UnitedHealthcare) in third at 56 seconds. Briton Steve Lampier continued JLT Condor’s impressive run in the race with fifth place.
“We said at the end of last year that it was about time I won something,” Rowe said after the finish. His last win was on stage one of the 2012 Tour of Britain.
“It’s kind of surreal putting your hands in the air again and going through the winning motions when you spend most of your time working for others. When you get half an opportunity you’ve got to take it and that’s exactly what I did today.”
Behind the break, there was something resembling chaos as race leader Damien Howson (Orica-Scott) suffered a badly-timed puncture within the final 10km and temporarily lost contact with the main group containing defending champion Chris Froome (Team Sky).
Froome had started to put some time into Howson on the final climb, but hard work from Howson’s Orica-Scott team-mates – including Esteban Chaves and Simon Gerrans – saw the yellow jersey brought back up to Froome. Howson and Froome subsequently finished in the same group.
Howson retains the overall lead ahead of Jai Hindley (Korda Mentha Real Estate-Australia), at 38 seconds, and Kenny Elissonde (Team Sky) in third at 53 seconds. Froome remains fifth at 1-12.
The Jayco Herald Sun Tour continues on Saturday from Benalla to Michlton Winery. The stage features a major climb in its mid-section, but flattens out long before the finish and a bunch sprint is expected.
That leaves just Sunday’s final stage for any riders with serious intentions on the general classification – including Froome – to make their move.