Froome beaten in Australia but lays groundwork for Tour de France defence

Sky leader fails to win opening race of the year for first time since 2012

Team Sky won three stages, the team classification and finished on the podium with Kenny Elissonde at the Herald Sun Tour. However, for Chris Froome it was a disappointing race on a personal level after he failed to defend his title and finished sixth overall.

The last time Froome started a season without winning the first stage race of the year was back in 2012. Froome's winning streak included the Tour of Oman, twice, Ruta del Sol and Herald Sun Tour last year.

"It's been a really solid block, a great week of racing for us. It has been really aggressive everyday. We have tried to have someone in the break or really try and take the race on and that is what we wanted from this race," Froome said after the final stage.

Since Falls Creek, Teams Sky and Froome were on the back foot in their bid for the overall classification and possibly sensing yellow was out of reach, they successfully sent Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard into stage winning breakaways. Froome still made several attempts to shake up the race but conceded that Orica-Scott were too good and doffed the cap to them.

"Damien Howson is really strong. He rode a great stage on Falls Creek and defended the jersey really well so chapeau. They did a really good job this week," he said of stage 1 which all but set the GC on stone.

"We are here to race, of course we were here to try and win as well so they did a great job. We hit them with everything we had today and they defended it really well."

The wet weather, an oil spill and a technical final corner saw the UCI commissaires decide to take the GC time at the top of the final classified climb, three kilometres from the finish line. Whether it was the weather or series of factors that saw a largely negative race unfold, Froome was in favour of the decision.

"I think in the interest of safety, yeah any call by the commissaires to make the race safer for the riders I have to agree with," he told Cyclingnews. "The first lap there was a whole lot of oil on the road so I think the fire engines did manage to clear most of it so it might have been safe by the finish, but I would rather not take that risk."

After the majority of the stages Froome and his Sky teammates were quick to jump on their bikes and add training miles to the bank. After riding the 70-odd kilometres from Kinglake back to the team hotel, Froome will fly out of Australia for a training camp in South Africa.

The Volta a Catalunya is likely to be Froome's next race and first goal of the European season as he aims for his first win of the season.

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