Team Sky’s Ian Stannard took his first victory of the 2017 season on Sunday, winning the final stage at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Australia after attacking from an escape group in the final kilometre.
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But the British rider’s win very nearly turned into embarrassment. Stannard’s slow approach to the finish while zipping up his jersey and putting his hands in the air meant he was close to being caught on the line by the chasing group.
Video footage from Eurosport shows just how close Stannard got to not winning the stage.
As he freewheels towards the finish, Aaron Gate (Aqua Blue Sport) is rapidly accelerating behind him – with the 29-year-old from Essex seemingly oblivious to the danger as he looks over the wrong shoulder.
Or could it be that Stannard is a consummate professional, and perfectly-timed his effort and celebration, with not a gram of excess energy expended? He certainly doesn’t look panicked.
Stannard’s victory was the third for Team Sky in the race, after Danny van Poppel won the prologue time trial and Luke Rowe secured stage two.
Chris Froome went into the 2017 Herald Sun Tour as defending champion, but simply could not overhaul leader Damien Howson, whose strong Orica-Scott squad rallied around him to ensure his first ever stage race win.
Froome had to settle for sixth overall, with best-placed Sky rider being new French recruit Kenny Elissonde in third.
Stannard and Rowe now head straight back to Europe, where the cobbled classics beckon. Given the British pair’s evident form, Sky could see more success – though they may be hoping for a wider margin of victory.