While it was teammate Chris Froome initiating the winning move at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, it was Peter Kennaugh taking home the spoils of the day with the victory and his first race leader's jersey since last year's Critérium du Dauphiné. The 26-year-old British national champion is in pole position to take home his third general classification victory following wins at the Coppi e Bartali and Tour of Austria in 2014.
"Today was a bit more controlled I guess and a bit more planned were last weekend's race was all about racing and getting out there," Kennaugh said of the difference between his win in Healesville and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race Sunday. "Today was quite like 'back to work, back to business'. We had a strategy, we stuck to it and it worked. I have to take my hat off to Froomey because there are a lot of guys in his position who wouldn’t help their teammates out like that. It was just an awesome day for the team all round I guess. It’s nice to come to these races and be able to race like this, it makes for a nice change."
While Froome and Kennaugh proved themselves to be the strongest riders on the climb, the chasing duo of Damien Howson (Orica-GreenEdge) and John Clarke (UnitedHealthcare) was edging their way across the gap. Radio radio had the gap fluctuating but never closer than 15 seconds would be swept up on the run into the line, finishing in the 29-rider group at 17-seconds in arrears.
Kennaugh explained that the time gap he and Froome had established was never clear, suggesting a race motorbike was assisting the efforts of the chasers
"I am not sure how long we had over the top of the climb, but the guys behind definitely must have gotten on the motorbike on the descent because at one minute we had almost a minute and then next thing, we could see them," he said of the descent from the chase group. "We didn’t have a motorbike or anything in front of us, so I don’t know what was going on there, but it was strange. As soon as the motorbike disappeared from in-between us, we just pulled away again … which was five kilometres to go when we hit those little rollers we had a good idea."
Identifying the two upcoming stages to be suited for the sprinters rather than general classification riders, Kennaugh added that he expects Sunday's stage up Arthurs Seat to decide the overall standings.
"I think the next few days are probably sprint stages and we have a strong team and obviously GreenEdge want to keep it together for Caleb [Ewan] so then it will be just down to that last day," he said. "I think that will suit me more than today with that final climb with that climb being shorter and more punchier."
When asked post-race he if knew much of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour prior to racing, Kennaugh answered "I know it’s been around for a while. There is a guy on the Isle of Man called Mike Doyle who's ridden it before back when it used to be at the end of the season and everyone used to sell their kit at the end of it. I've heard him talk about it a bit," he said.
"Obviously, it has an amazing history and just to even have your name to a stage would be really nice and that was the aim, to win a stage, and we’ll have to see about the overall."
Come Sunday, Kennaugh could well be celebrating the first victory by a foreign rider since Bradley Wiggins in 2008 and first victory by a Manx rider with stories sure to match those of Doyle's when he heads home.
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