One day after taking third place in the opening prologue Lasse Norman Hansen stood on top of the podium as Stage 1 winner and new yellow jersey after sprinting to glory in FlagStaff Hill in the aftermath of a long and hectic 161 kilometre race along the Great Ocean Road into Warrnambool.
The windy conditions on the day played a key factor in the unfolding of events as strong crosswinds inside the final 25 kilometres caused chaos in the peloton splitting the race apart. The early six-men breakaway was caught just inside the last 15 kilometres and what followed was some first grade frenzied bike racing with multiple attacks at the front.
Track Olympic gold medallist Norman Hansen and teammate US National road Champion Larry Warbasse were attentive and made the selection in all the crucial moves as the wind decimated the peloton. In the end, the stage honors were contested by a select group of only nine riders with the 25-year-old Dane emerging as the convincing winner.
Norman Hansen’s final kick was unmatched and the great Dane powered his 3T Strada bike to victory out-sprinting Steele von Hoff (Bennelong SwissWellness) and former Jayco Herald Sun Tour winner Cameron Meyer (Mitchelton-SCOTT), who finished second and third, respectively.
“We knew there was going to be a lot of crosswinds and knew we had to stay close to the Trek-Segafredo boys and we did that with the whole team.
“Everyone did a really great job. In the end it split down to a 20 men group and Larry and I made the selection after that, with about 10 km to go it split yet again and I was able to jump across from the second group to the first.
“From there it was pretty much like an old-fashioned track race, attacking left and right and it ended up in a 10 man bunch sprint. I kicked a bit early and brought good speed into the climb. It was a little bit uphill to the finish line and I managed to get a jump on Steele (von Hoff).
“I’m really stoked to win the stage but it was definitely a team performance today, they all made this possible and I’m super happy to have been able to finish it off for the team,”
said an ecstatic Norman Hansen after the stage.
It was a special day for team Aqua Blue Sport, and an historic one for professional cycling, as it marks the first UCI pro road race win with a 1x drivetrain bike – the 3T Strada.
With the win, his second as a professional road cyclist and the first as a rider for Aqua Blue Sport, Lasse Norman Hansen moves into the top of the overall classification. He has nine seconds advantage on second placed Meyer and will wear the yellow jersey on stage two of Jayco Herald Sun Tour (198.6kms from Warrnambool to Ballarat).