By Gregor Brown
Danny van Poppel, winner of the Herald Sun Tour prologue this morning in Melbourne, has his wedding ring again after divers were sent searching for it off of the South Australian coast.
The Dutchman, Chris Froome, and the other Team Sky riders in Victoria, Australia, were guests on Orica-Scott owner Gerry Ryan's luxury yacht two days ago. Van Poppel lost both the ring and the necklace it was attached to while diving.
"He was distraught," Herald Sun Tour director John Trevorrow told the Herald Sun newspaper.
Trevorrow paid for a diver to search for van Poppel's lost ring and necklace while Sky continued their preparations for the five-day stage race where Chris Froome is hoping to repeat his race win from 2016.
The jewellery was handed down by van Poppel's father, Jean-Paul. Jean-Paul, who won nine stages in the Tour de France and the green jersey in 1987, is also in Australia managing the Dutch professional continental team Roompot-Nederlandse Lotorij.
"How the diver found the ring I don't know," added Trevorrow. "He called and said there was half a link of chain sticking out of the mud."
Ryan owns caravan company Jayco, which sponsors the race. After van Poppel received his trophy on stage for winning the stage, Ryan brought him his ring and necklace back.
Announcer Phil Liggett jokingly said that it cost the $120 for the diver, "but we found it."
The ring added to the stage victory and leader's jersey for van Poppel.
The 23-year-old sprinted to four victories in 2016 for Sky and opened his 2017 account with the 2.1-kilometre Sun Tour prologue.
"I was focused to win it and nothing else," van Poppel said. “I've done it and I'm really happy because you're always searching for the first victory of the team and for myself and I'm happy that I did it.
"It's good but I hope I can give it to Chris tomorrow. It will be nice if tomorrow is a nice day for Chris and the team so we'll go full for him."
Australian JLT Condor riders finished second and third this morning, while Froome placed 26th at seven seconds back in what he described as a "lung busting" effort.
"It's definitely a bit of a lung buster – you just have two minutes to get everything out," Froome said. "It's not really my kind of course, but it's great to kick the week off."
"It's a great start for the team, with Danny winning – that's giving us a lot of confidence going into the week ahead. He did a great ride."
The 169.9km stage tomorrow climbs to near 1500 metres and suits Froome and other race favourite Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott).
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