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The 2017 Herald Sun Tour was billed as a show down between some of the words greatest Gran Tour riders, leading the charge in this area was multiple time TDF winner Chris Froome of Team Sky and Esteban Chaves or Orica-Scott. The race was to fair out slightly different to many expectations with Orica-Scott climber Damian Howson taking the lead on Stage 1 to Falls Creek and maintaining his lead throughout the race. The race also seen the rise of Australia’s new generation with 20yr old climbing sensation Jai Hindley taking 2nd overall representing the Australian National team, along with fellow teammates Michael Storer and Lucas Hamilton all finishing in the top 10 of the final classification.
Prologue: Federation Square - Queensbridge Square
Winner - Danny VAN POPPEL (SKY) NED 2:32.56
Set of the streets of Melbourne, this explosive prologue seen some high power with this maximal Aerobic effort pushing rider’s lactates through the roof over this 2 ½ - 3min effort. Impressive powers seen riders average close to 49kph on the twisty circuit, Anthony GIACOPPO (IWS) had a fantastic ride finishing 6th on the stage with a 465w average at 6.84w/kg. This effort left Anthony only 3sec of the winning time, this is a good indication of the power needed to be competitive on this short maximal effort on this circuit requiring not just a steady state power but also the explosiveness to power out of the corners and maintain a high speed, this is seen in Anthony’s max 30sec power of 610w.
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Stage 1: Wangaratta - Tawonga Gap - Mongans Bridge - Falls Creek
Winner - Damien HOWSON (ORS) AUS 4h33:54
The long climb to Falls Creek was to set up the final overall victory with Damien Howson taking the win after dropping his breakaway companion Kenny Elissonde with 2km to the finish. The stage was set up with a long breakaway which had the likes of Greg Henderson and Steve Lampier helping pull out the advantage from the chasing peloton. For the duration of the 2 ¼ hr’s Greg spent in the break he averaged 269w, the inevitability of the break being caught by the chasing riders was prolonged a bit more when Steve Lampier dropped his breakaway companions on the slopes of Falls Creek. To do this Steve produced 367w, 5.24 w/kg for 9min, all done after 160km of riding. Steve was to be the last rider to be caught by the charging Damien Howson as he completed the 13.23km Falls Creek in 32:37 with an estimated* power of 385w, 5.66 w/kg. For riders in the top 20 on the stage like Ian Bibby and Jonathan Clarke which completed the hill around the 34min mark, they had to be in the 5-5.2 w/kg range in order to be able to have a high finishing place on the stage.
Stage 2: Mount Beauty - Tallangatta – Beechworth
Winner- Luke ROWE (SKY) GBR 4h08:23
More aggressive riding today in stage 2 of the Hearld Sun Tour seen victor Luke Rowe win from a day long breakaway which seen 10 riders fight it out at the end of a rolling stage in the hills. With the final showdown coming down to the climb of Stanley, Luke made his move and his breakaway companions were unable to match his pace. Again, Steve Lampier was one of the main instigators of today’s stage after his aggressive riding on stage 1.
Data from Steve Lampier, Ian Bibby and Dylan Sunderland show the hard effort of today’s stage with most people averaging between 4-4.2 w/kg for the 165km. With aggressive riding on the Stanley climb, both up and down with Ian Bibby hitting out an impressive 480w for 2 ½ min on the steepest section and James Oram flying at 61.3km on the decent and run into finish.
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Stage 3: Benalla - Euroa – Nagambie
Winner - Travis MCCABE (UHC) USA 3h46:00
The 3rd stage was billed as a sprinter stage and it lived up to expectation, but not without it’s exciting and aggressive riding by the bunch. The first 30km seen a flurry of attacks but the main break got clear around the 30km mark with a group of 9 riders taking an advantage of 3 ½ min but this was soon to be reduced by a chasing peloton lead by Orica-Scott. Stage winner Travis McCabe came out of the speeding peloton at the finish which was marred by crashes in the final kilometres taking out some pre stage favourites and left the fight for the win up to Travis and Australian riders Mitch Docker and Leigh Howard.
Some impressive numbers where produced in the initial phases of when the lead break was forming, New Zealand national team member Hamish Schreurs. A big effort to get the lead break its advantage seen him produce 362w for nearly 15min at an average speed of 50.3kph. Another insight into this stage was the effort needed to be able to perform at the finish, Australian rider Ben Hill had an impressive 6th place on the stage but to do so seen him average 777w for 40sec in the final run in. This can also be broken down more as he averaged 1055w for the final 15sec hitting a top power of 1280w.
Stage 4: Kinglake – Kinglake
Winner - Ian STANNARD (SKY) GBR 2h52:44
The final day was to set to be showdown between Orica-Scott and Team Sky for the overall honours on the hilly circuit around Kinglake. A large breakaway of 18 riders were to fight it out for the win as Team Sky powerhouse, Ian Stannard, made a late attack in the final kilometres to win from his breakaway companions. Behind in the peloton, Froome was unable to take the lead of Damian Howson who was to take the final overall victory for the Orcia-Scott team.
The climb of Kinglake was to dominate the circuits and the aggressive riding, on the climb which lasted 5km and it was done between 10-12min approx. by both the break and the peloton. From riders such as Robbie Hucker and Cameron Bayly who were in the break they needed to produce between 5.5 – 6 w/kg to keep their position in the break and be part of the final selection of riders going for the win. On the final ascent of the Kinglake climb, the bunch was in full gas mode as Froome and Team Sky attempted to break the Orica-Scott team, this seen riders such as Ian Bibby produce 420w for nearly 9min at 6.43 w/kg to hold onto the flying peloton as the raced towards the finish.
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