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Orica-Scott thrilled with Howson's Herald Sun Tour victory

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The victorious Orica-Scott team

The victorious Orica-Scott team (Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Damien Howson celebrating victory

Damien Howson celebrating victory (Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott)

Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott) (Image credit: Con Chronis)
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Tour winner Matt Wilson (yellow) and his team-mates (L-R):

Tour winner Matt Wilson (yellow) and his team-mates (L-R): (Image credit: Shane Goss)
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Damien Howson is kept safe in yellow

Damien Howson is kept safe in yellow (Image credit: Con Chronis)

Orica-Scott's club of Herald Sun Tour winners swelled to three on Sunday when young domestique Damien Howson sealed the overall victory.

While Howson proved his nous in securing his first professional victory, on the road two-time winner Simon Gerrans was aiding his teammate, and in the car, 2007 champion Matt Wilson was running the radio.

Howson overcame punctures, crashes, and oil spills during his time in yellow as the 24-year-old domestique made the most of his moment in the sunshine as the team worked for him rather than the usual reverse situation.

"Most of the guys, Esteban [Chaves] especially, see the work that Damien does for him during the year. He's been instrumental in a lot of his big results so far and will be for years to come," Wilson said Sunday after Howson sealed victory by 38 seconds over Jai Hindley. "So the best thing he can do to repay Damien is to help him with a victory like this. I don't think anyone was more happy than Esteban - the whole team, too."

After crossing the stage 4 line, Gerrans was also full of praise for his young teammate.

"It is so nice to be able to return the favour for what the guys have done so many times in the past and it's great to see Damo, he took full advantage of the situation and took the win," Gerrans added.

Wilson won his Herald Sun Tour title back in 2007. The director sportif lost his yellow jersey on Falls Creek on that occasion, although he would win it back in a time trial. Ten years on, and it was a happier occasion for Wilson as Howson stamped his authority on the race up the 29km climb which was expected to witness a showdown between Chris Froome and Esteban Chaves.

On the morning of the Falls Creek stage, Wilson told Cyclingnews that he believed the day would all but decide the overall standings but was still keeping his cards close to his chest with Chaves talked up as the main man. A domestique during his own career, Wilson explained that Howson's victory stirred up different emotions compared to the wins of the team leaders. And one he will personally savour.

"When it's a big favourite, a big leader and you're always working for them, it's a job. But when you see this guy who's selflessly committed for years (win), a different sort of passion comes through," he added.

"It's just great to be able to give those guys an opportunity and to see them take that opportunity with both hands and win. Who knows - he could have the whole team working for him one day in the big tours."

Gerrans' first win of his pro career also came at the Herald Sun Tour while his two overall wins in 2005 and 2006 helped propel then cement his place in the pro peloton. While the 36-year-old was unable to step on to the podium himself, he explained that Howson's win epitomises Orica-Scott's 'team first' ethos.

"He had his first professional victory just a few days ago and now he has his second. It's a fantastic way to start to his season and a massive confidence boost moving forward," said Gerrans.

"It's really satisfying to see him on the top step and I think that highlights how we work in the team. We are happy to dig in for each other, we saw the whole team here sacrifice themselves for Damo and everyone is thrilled to see him win. All in all, Orica-Scott had a fantastic summer. We've had some success with several different riders over the past month so it's a fantastic foundation for the season to come." 

Zeb Woodpower is the Australian editor at Cyclingnews. Based in Sydney, Zeb provides an Australian perspective on the sport with articles ranging from the local to the global . He joined Cyclingnews in 2013.

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