John Murphy Edges Out Top Sprinters to Win Herald Sun Tour Stage 3, Tanner Putt 2nd on Stage 2
John Murphy overcame some of the fastest sprinters in the world to win stage three of Australia’s Herald Sun Tour on Saturday. The seasoned sprinter on the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team benefited from the hard, selfless work of his teammates, who put him in the perfect position on the fast and flat finish into Inverloch. Murphy then jumped from the bunch to take the win by less than a tire width. The victory comes on the back of the second place finish of Tanner Putt on Friday’s frenetic stage two. With two podiums in two days at one of the most important early season events, the men of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team have proven their early season form and determination coming into 2016.
Murphy, racing the Herald Sun Tour for the third time, was elated with his win, “The boys did an amazing job keeping me in good position all day. In the finale, it was a bit hectic coming into the final turn before the finish, but Tanner [Putt] and Ty [Magner] had me in perfect position and all I had to do was sprint. It was awesome and so much fun. I love racing with these guys.”
The 146-km stage opened with some small climbs as the peloton made its way towards the coast, but the climbs proved no problem for the sprinters, as protected riders were kept safe by their teammates. An early breakaway was kept in check by a field that was anticipating the group sprint at the finish. As expected, the break was caught with 10km to go. Tanner Putt, who took second on the previous stage, led the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train into the tricky corner with 300m to go, and provided the final boost of power to launch Murphy across the line.
Tanner Putt 2nd on Herald Sun Tour, Stage 2
Tanner Putt of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team sprinted to second place on Stage 2 of the Herald Sun Tour on Friday in an exciting late race breakaway. The elite six-person move dashed away from the peloton on the short and sharp climb on the run in to the finish in the town of Moe. What was expected to end in a large bunch finish proved more unpredictable as Putt followed the wheel of Chris Froome and his teammate Peter Kennaugh. Putt found the wheel of race favourite Caleb Ewan in the final meters and dispatched with the Team Sky duo, but couldn’t quite overcome Ewan at the line.
After a challenging opening stage of the Herald Sun Tour, the team refocused from the General Classification to the sprint finish, giving road team captain Jonny Clarke a chance to rest up ahead of the challenges later in the race. The team did well in keeping Clarke in the front of the group during the approach of the climbs, while ensuring the sprinters managed to get over the top and onto the flatter finale with the main pack.
With the lead group together coming into the fast finish, a small contingent led by Team Sky made a break from the pack. Putt, who had been well-protected by his teammates throughout the day, made the move on the heels of Chris Froome, and came charging to the line with the group of six. “I was in good position so I followed Froome.” said Putt, “I knew we would make it with the gap we got so I just stayed on Caleb’s [Ewan] wheel, knowing he was the fastest sprinter.” With two Team Sky riders in the break, the young UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team rider was relieved of the pressure to do too much work, and instead Putt could focus on the upcoming sprint, “With 1km to go, Peter Kennaugh attacked and Caleb and I followed. When Caleb started his sprint at 200m I tried to follow but he was too fast.” Putt crossed the line in second place, having bested some of the strongest and most renowned riders in the peloton. Putt was especially appreciative of his team throughout the stage, “I was happy with the result and want to thank my teammates and staff for the support.”
The main field sprinted to the line just 25 seconds behind the winning group, with John Murphy taking second from the field, earning 8th on the stage and showing the form that would earn victory on the following day. Sporting Director at the Herald Sun Tour, Hendrick Redant, was delighted with how the team rode on stage two, “A successful day for our team in the Australian Herald Sun Tour! We protected our team leader Jonny Clarke for the GC battle, and raced smartly to put Tanner in the winning move. I’m very happy with how the team is racing.”
Sunday’s Stage Four, the final day of racing at the 2016 Herald Sun Tour, is a day for the General Classification specialists and climbers. The 121-km stage centers around the coastal town of Arthurs Seat, known for its steep 4-km climb up Arthurs Seat Road. The racers will tackle the climb three times during the day, with the final ascent also serving as the finish of the race. It’s likely that the Yellow Jersey contenders will come to the fore to battle for the overall win. The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team will ride to support all-rounder and outstanding climber Jonny Clarke.