Welshman Rowe was part of the day’s 10-man escape group, and made his move on the final climb to take his first win since a stage of the Tour of Britain in 2012. Sky’s Danny Van Poppel won the opening prologue time trial.
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Hard-working domestique Rowe was evidently delighted with the win, saying afterwards: “It’s kind of surreal putting your hands in the air again and going through the winning motions when you spend most of your time working for others”.
Another regular team domestique who is unexpectedly taking the limelight is race leader Damien Howson (Orica-Scott), although it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Australian during stage two.
Howson suffered an ill-timed puncture 10km from the finish and right when the race was blowing apart on the day’s final climb.
Defending Herald Sun Tour champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) was one of those putting pressure on at the front of the group behind the break.
However, a mammoth effort by Howson’s Orica-Scott team saw him rejoin the Froome group and avoid losing any time to keep the yellow jersey.
The race continues on Saturday with stage three on Saturday to Michelton Winery – expected to end in a bunch sprint – and the final, climb-filled stage on Sunday.