Jai Hindley kept the ball rolling for Sunweb in the Falls Creek summit finale Thursday to win the stage and take the lead at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.
A day after Sunweb’s WorldTour rookie Alberto Dainese kicked to victory in the opening stage, Hindley backed it up in an intense battle in the first of two mountaintop finales that should decide Australia’s oldest road race.
23-year-old Hindley beat fellow Australians Damian Howson (Mitchelton-Scott) and Sebastian Berwick (St George) in the race to the top of the long grinding summit at Falls Creek. Neilson Powless (EF Pro Cycling) was fourth at 13 seconds adrift of the leading trio.
“The guys did a super job on the climb today, they set it up perfectly,” Hindley said. “It was pretty touch and go at the finish, hats off to Damian and Seb, they were super strong and I just couldn’t shake them. I’m just stoked to finish off all the hard work the guys did today. I trained really hard for the Aussie summer and I was a bit disappointed with my own personal results at the Tour Down Under, so I was really motivated to get some good results here.”
Mitchelton-Scott’s Simon Yates started as race favorite, but indicated he was not on his best day with about 10km to go on the 30km climb, and passed the leadership baton to Howson, who finished second.
“Obviously we were all in for Simon today and the guys did an amazing ride to set him up. Unfortunately he was just having a bad day but we had a plan B with Damien and he was on a great day,” said Mitchelton-Scott sport director Matt Wilson. “This race isn’t going to come down to small seconds so we will reassess tonight and get back to work tomorrow.”
Charles Étienne Chrétien led the way for Aevolo, with 17th at 2:16 back. Aiden McNeil did not start, but the others all finished safely within the time cut.
Hindley holds a four-second lead to Howson, with Powless fourth at 23 seconds back. Friday’s rolling stage could present some opportunities for echelons if there is some strong crosswinds on the day.
Stage 2 results:
- Jai Hindley (Sunweb): 3:06:29
- Damian Howson (Mitchelton-Scott): S.T
- Sebastian Berwick (St George): S.T
GC after stage 2:
- Jai Hindley (Sunweb): 5:43:01
- Damian Howson (Mitchelton-Scott):+0:00:04
- Sebastian Berwick (St George): +0:00:06