Cameron Meyer wins stage 1 of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, takes overall lead

by Matt de Neef

Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge) has moved into the overall lead in the 2015 Jayco Herald Sun Tour after winning stage 1 in Bendigo this afternoon.

Meyer beat New Zealand national champion Joe Cooper (Avanti) in a two-up sprint after the pair escaped from a 21-rider lead group which had formed early in the stage. Cooper’s teammate and compatriot Patrick Bevin finished third at the head of the chase group.

An early climb up the steep side of Mount Macedon saw the 21 leaders get away inside the first 20km of the stage, with the likes of Meyer, Cooper, defending champion Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge), Damian Howson (Orica-GreenEdge), Robert Power (U23 National Team), Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka) and Franco Pellizotti (Androni-Giocattoli) among the big names.

By the second climb of the day, Mount Alexander, the leaders had a gap of more than eight minutes, and by the time 100km had been covered, the peloton had sat up and the leaders’ advantage was out beyond 12 minutes.

Cameron Meyer and Joe Cooper escaped from the lead group inside the final 10km and held on to finish 10 seconds clear of the chasers.

“There was lots of attacks in the end and I just had to bide my time for the right move,” Meyer said. “I love that sort of race. Twenty guys, sort of like it used to be on the track with the points race, trying to judge when to make that move and I made the right one.”

“I brought an Avanti guy [with me] which was perfect and he didn’t want to give me a turn in the last 10km which I got a little bit angry with,” Meyer admitted. “But I still managed to have enough in the end to win so I’m really happy.”

Cooper explained why he wasn’t assisting Meyer with the pacemaking: “The plan was to try and keep it together for a bunch kick for Paddy [Bevin].”

The peloton, which included overnight leader Will Clarke (Drapac), ended up finishing more than 25 minutes behind Meyer and Cooper. The result sees Cameron Meyer move into the lead in the general classification, four seconds ahead of Joe Cooper and 15 seconds ahead of Patrick Bevin.

With such a large time gap between the lead group on today’s stage and the peloton, the overall winner of the race will come from today’s 21-strong breakaway. But Meyer has no shortage of challengers within that group, including Joe Cooper.

“[It will be] A hard week now,” Meyer admitted. “Simon Clarke did it last year and we’d love to do it again. It’s still very close in the overall standings.

“I went and checked out Arthurs Seat,” Meyer said, referring to the last stage of the race. “I know that’s a hard hill but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

The Jayco Herald Sun Tour continues tomorrow with a 123.6km stage from Bendigo to Nagambie which should end in a bunch sprint, despite a few short climbs along the way.

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