Chris Froome pays tribute to 'absolute beast' Ian Stannard after Herald Sun Tour stage win - Road Cycling UK

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Chris Froome pays tribute to ‘absolute beast’ Ian Stannard after Herald Sun Tour stage win

Essex rider wins final stage in Kinglake as Froome finishes sixth overall in first stage race of season

Chris Froome hailed team-mate Ian Stannard as ‘an absolute beast’ after the Essex man closed out the Herald Sun Tour with his first victory of the season.

Stannard added to Danny van Poppel and Luke Rowe’s stage wins, and Kenny Elissonde’s third place overall, to cap a decent week for Team Sky, as Froome finished sixth in his first stage race of the year.

And after seeing his team-mate attack from the breakaway on the tough, undulating final stage to claim the sixth pro win of his career, Froome was quick to pay tribute to the 29-year-old.

Team Sky’s Ian Stannard won the final stage of the 2017 Herald Sun Tour (pic – Sirotti)

“He’s an absolute beast. An incredible rider,” he told TeamSky.com. “That’s the thing about Ian. He’s so versatile. He’s 85 kilos or something but he wins on top of a climb. Scary.”

Stannard admitted he hadn’t been sure of his form before the stage, after doing a great deal of chasing on the front of the peloton the previous day.

However, after having had just enough left in the tank to beat Aqua Blue Sport’s Aaron Gate into second – the Irish team’s third podium finish of a successful week down under – Stannard was pleased with how Team Sky’s race had unfolded.

“I didn’t feel great early on but I came round toward the end of the race,” he said. “I knew they wanted to come up so I thought I might as well see if I could play the game a bit and hang on.

“We’ve come here and we wanted to have some fun and some good racing. That’s what it’s been about and it’s worked well for us.”

Orica-Scott’s Damien Howson claimed overall victory, with Chris Froome sixth in his first stage race of the season (pic – Herald Sun Tour)

Damien Howson (Orica-Scott) claimed overall victory in the end, carrying the jersey through to Kinglake after winning stage one at Falls Creek.

Froome was 1’12” in arrears, in sixth place, while fellow Brit Ian Bibby was JLT-Condor’s best-placed rider, finishing a further nine seconds back in 11th place.

Froome’s next race is scheduled to be the Volta a Catalunya in March, while Stannard and fellow stage winner Rowe will turn their attention to the cobbled Classics.

Herald Sun Tour 2017: stage four – result

1) Ian Stannard (GBR) – Team Sky – 2.52.44hrs
2) Aaron Gate (NZL) – Aqua Blue Sport – ST
3) Taco van der Hoorn (NED) – Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
4) Benjamin Hill (AUS) – Attaque Team Gusto
5) Robbie Hucker (AUS) – IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness Team
6) Alistair Slater (GBR) – JLT-Condor
7) Jason Christie (NZL) – New Zealand
8) Daniel Fitter (AUS) – NSW Institute of Sport
9) Cyrus Monk (AUS) – Drapac Pat’s Veg
10) Travis McCabe (USA) – UnitedHealthCare

General classification

1) Damien Howson (AUS) – Orica-Scott – 15.25.13hrs
2) Jai Hindley (AUS) – Korda Mentha Real Estate Australia +38”
3) Kenny Elissonde (FRA) – Team Sky +53”
4) Cameron Meyer (AUS) – Korda Mentha Real Estate Australia +1.08
5) Michael Storer (AUS) – Korda Mentha Real Estate Australia +1.10
6) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +1.12
7) Lucas Hamilton (AUS) – Korda Mentha Real Estate Australia +1.13
8) Nathan Earle (AUS) – Korda Mentha Real Estate Australia +1.15
9) Johan Esteban Chaves (COL) – Orica-Scott – ST
10) Timothy Roe (AUS) – IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness Team +1.17
11) Ian Bibby (GBR) – JLT-Condor +1.21

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