Damien Howson wins first stage of Herald Sun Tour – Bike Magazine Australia

Adelaide’s Damien Howson beat Grand Tour stars Chris Froome and Esteban Chaves by more than a minute in the opening stage of the Herald Sun Tour.

The 24-year-old Orica-Scott rider – world Under-23 time trial champion in 2013 – powered clear up to the finish line at Falls Creek after initially breaking away with Team Sky’s Kenny Elissonde and JLT Condor’s Steve Lampier just 15km from home.

But after Lampier fell back, Howson made his solo attack with around 3,000m to go and Elissonde had no response.

Jai Hindley come through to take second place, 32 seconds adrift of Howson, with Frenchman Elissonde in third.

Tour de France champion Froome was one minute and 11 seconds adrift, a single second behind Colombian climbing sensation Chaves as the peloton was dismantled by the gruelling mountain top conclusion.

Simon Gerrans lost more than one minute 20 seconds to Froome and Chaves in the overall classification, while sprinter Danny Van Poppel – who started the stage as leader after winning Wednesday night’s explosive 2.1km prologue – found life very tough going uphill as he finished more than 30 minutes behind Howson.

The stage win was a dream come true for a rider who is looking to take another step up this season following solid performances in last year’s Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana.

“You train up these climbs like Falls Creek and dream about going off solo and having the time to put your hands in the air in front of an amazing crowd like this,” Howson said.

“It was a pretty strange race and the two of us at the front were playing it a bit cagey at time. But when I put the final hammer down I knew that was a chance for myself and I was definitely happy with the result today.”