JACK Bauer of Garmin Sharp has taken out the prologue of the Herald Sun Tour after a blistering ride during yesterday’s twilight time-trial.
Bauer, 28, zipped through the 2.5-kilometre stage along Melbourne’s CBD in 3min00.9sec and will wear the yellow jersey into Ballarat today as the current race leader.
Fellow New Zealander Tom Scully finished in second with a time of 3:01.81 and Drapac’s William Clarke (3:02.51) finished in third, while Felix English won the under-23.
Reigning Australian champion and perennial favourite Simon Gerrans had a solid start to his campaign for the triple crown of Australian cycling, finishing in 11th place.
Ballarat cyclist Rhys Gillett crossed the line in 38th spot, while Pat Shaw finished 61st.
The cycling will begin in earnest today with a punchy road stage from Geelong to Ballarat, spanning 116.1 kilometres.
Riders will be forced to navigate the brutal Glenmore Hill about 60 kilometres out from the Armstrong Street finish.
Garmin-Sharp are the best-equipped outfit in the tour to challenge Orica-GreenEDGE, Australia’s only WorldTour team.
“Like everyone says, he’s in the form of his life and there’s no better bike rider from this side of the world at the moment,” Bauer said of Gerrans.
“Obviously he’s the man to beat and he has a strong team around him.
“But so do we – we can do exactly the same thing.
“We definitely have a few cards to play.”
Bauer is not the main rider for the American-based Garmin-Sharp team, one of three WorldTour lineups at the Victorian race.
Australian Nathan Haas impressed with his fifth at the Tour Down Under and compatriot Rohan Dennis is another Garmin-Sharp rider who could challenge for overall honours.
Bauer was surprised to win the technical 2.5-kilometre prologue and the domestique does not expect to contend for the overall title.