Headline act Chris Froome made light work of inflicting pain on rivals at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour today.
The 30-year-old stretched his climbing legs during the first road stage riding away from a peloton that fractured under a pace Team Sky set on a category one ascent near the finish in Healesville.
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Froome has opened his 2016 season at the race in Victoria, Australia, which his teammate Peter Kennaugh now leads following a one-two finish on stage one.
“That’s the first big hit out I’ve had this season and I was really happy with my feelings. I think it’s a really good start to the season for me,” he said.
The two-time Tour de France champion will wear the polka dot jersey tomorrow having taken maximum points on the second King of the Mountain prime where he paced stage winner Kennaugh before the pair swapped turns on the descent and rode together to the finish line.
“That climb wasn’t super selective on paper and I think a lot of people were expecting it to come back to a bunch sprint but we don’t really have any sprinters here,” Froome said.
“We don’t have many opportunities so we thought let’s give it everything we’ve got, and the guys did a fantastic job setting it up. They made it has hard as possible on the early slopes and then I took over.
“[It’s] a really nice feeling also being able to give something back to Peter Kennaugh. The number of times he has emptied himself for me out on the road, he’s been part of both my Tour de France victories, it’s nice to be able to do something for him now.”
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Froome laughed when it was put to him that he’d now be the most high-profile domestique with the British national champion Kennaugh now in the yellow jersey.
“That’s one way to put it,” he said.
“We’re going to try and protect that now. Pete’s in great shape. He won Cadel’s race [Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race] just a few days ago so we’ll try and keep the jersey on his shoulders now.”