John Murphy opens UnitedHealthcare's 2016 account at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour

American claims sprint win ahead of Bonifazio

John Murphy opened his and the UnitedHeathcare's 2016 season account with a well time and well-executed sprint at that conclusion of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour's stage 3 in beachside Inverloch.

A regular winner on the US circuit with two national criterium titles to his name, Murphy's victory is his first outside the states, and rather fitting considering it's the race in which he made his professional debut back in 2006, finishing 48th overall with Health Net Presented By Maxxis.

"This year I wanted to make sure I capitalised on some results and victories that I had last year. This race is super important to come and build motivation for the team and show I have the speed to do what I wanted to do and mission accomplished," Murphy told reporters after the stage.

Murphy's 2015 results included the final stage of the US Pro Challenge and the overall Joe Martin Stage Race title.

While yesterday it was teammate Tanner Putt going mano a mano with the 21-year-old Caleb Ewan, who was the favourite for consecutive victories, Murphy was in the second group on the road which crossed the line 25 seconds later with Niccolò Bonifazio winning the sprint ahead of Murphy.

24-hours later, Murphy was the one celebrating the bigger victor having edged out the Trek-Segafredo rider in a photo finish.

“Coming out of the final corner, I thought the corner was a little bit further from the line so the moment I came out of the corner, I had to start and boom, just go from there and hope I can hold it to the line. It was a really close finish with Bonifazio so definitely pretty happy just to have that photo," said Murphy.

“Usually in a photo finish, you know when you’re beat and you don’t know when you’ve won. I didn’t know so it thought maybe I had it and Bonifazio knew he’d lost so that’s what gave it away to me.

“It took me a minute to digest that for sure I had won and once I had it, I was happy to celebrate with my teammates."

While pre-stage discussion was of Ewan's potential winning margin, Murphy explained that he wasn't concerned about going up against the form fast man of the peloton who already has eight wins to his name this season.

"I don’t think any sprinter is unbeatable so if you have the right team in front of you, you can win anything you want. My UnitedHealthcare team was unbelievable today, they took me into the corner in perfect condition and all I had to do was my sprint."

Having twice finished fourth in stages won by Caleb Ewan in Nagambie at last year's race, the 31-year-old, who spent two seasons with BMC Racing, explained that there was little complication to the tactic of beating Ewan in 2016. Ten year's on from making his debut at Australia's oldest one-day race.

“When you take the favourite, you just have to know your strengths against them. For me, I couldn’t let him start in front of me. The first thing I wanted to do was make sure I was started ahead of him and if he comes around, he comes around," he said. 

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