Aussie holds on for Herald Sun Tour victory
CYCLING: Damien Howson has claimed the biggest victory of his life, winning the Jayco Herald Sun Tour at Kinglake today.
The Orica-Scott workhorse got his moment in the sun when he held his rivals at bay to take overall honours from Jai Hindley (ANT) and Kenny Elissonde (Team Sky).
Team Sky classics specialist Ian Stannard won the final stage after breaking clear from a lead group in the final moments of the 121km race.
Howson raised his arms as he finished safely in the third group having withstood a pair of attacks from Chris Froome in the final two laps.
"It's a big sigh of relief. It's been an amazing week and to finish it off the way we did ... I couldn't be happier," Howson said.
"It comes with a lot of honour. There's a lot of prestigious names on the (winners) list. I'm really happy to join that list.
"To get my first win only a couple of days ago and to continue all the way though ... this is my first overall win ever. It's nice to break into new territory."
Howson joins an illustrious Herald Sun Tour honour roll that includes Tour de France champions Bradley Wiggins and Froome.
Froome admitted Sky had done some tactical experimenting during the Herald Sun, going away from their regular plan - a hard-tempo lead-out on climbs before Froome launches.
"Tactically we made some very different choices this year," Froome said.
"We gave guys like Kenny (Elissonde), Luke Rowe (a chance to win stages) and everyone came here to ride an aggressive race and not necessarily the typical lead out train for me that we normally do.
"So at Falls Creek when Kenny went up the road we were happy to sit back and roll the dice and let them have a crack. It didn't pay off for us, it went in Damien Howson's favour and hat's off to him, he's ridden a really good race.
Froome faced an almost impossible task of clawing back a 1min12secs deficit on Howson on the four laps of Kinglake, with the climb not steep enough for him to make inroads.
"It definitely wasn't as hard as Arthur's Seat, but it was still a good day out and a good session out here, which is just as important."