THE Herald Sun Tour is proving to be a happy hunting ground for Garmin Sharp’s Nathan Haas, with the 2011 winner taking control of the yellow jersey yet again after dominating yesterday’s first open road stage from Geelong to Ballarat.
Haas negotiated 116 kilometres of windswept climbs and descents to pip Orica-GreenEDGE’S Matthew Goss and Drapac’s Jonathan Cantwell on the line in a bunch sprint up Sturt Street.
Haas secured the stage victory in a time of three hours, four minutes and 12 seconds and now takes a seven-second lead over teammate and prologue winner Jack Bauer in the general classification standings.
“This is the race where it all started for me,” Haas said.
“We had a prologue time-trial where everyone is within a second of each other down to about the 80th spot – so it’s imperative to make sure that you get time on the line if you want to get the yellow jersey or take control of the general classification standings.”
The strength of Garmin Sharp has been a big
talking point of this year’s Tour thus far, with the team now two-from-two from the opening stages.
“We’re quite young and we ride really well together, but a lot of the time it’s about your conviction, and we’ve come to this race with a lot of confidence,” Haas added.
“This race is quite special to us all – our strength is not going to be an issue.
“For myself, this is probably my favourite race in the world.”
The win has also given Haas a two-point lead in the sprinters classification, while under-23 rider Thomas Hamilton has taken a commanding eight-point lead in the king of the mountains.
Harry Carpenter, who excelled at the national championships in Ballarat last month, has taken the lead in the under-23 category while Cannondale’s Alberto Bettiol leads the way for the most attacking rider.
Today’s 163km stage runs from Ballarat to Bendigo.