Garmin-Sharp continued to flex its collective muscle on the roads of Victoria yesterday, as 2011 champion Nathan Haas commanded an uphill bunch sprint to claim stage one of the Herald Sun Tour from Geelong to Ballarat.
After Kiwi team-mate Jack Bauer snared the yellow jersey for the American WorldTour outfit in Wednesday night's prologue, Haas assumed the leaders mantle with his powerful display up Sturt Street.
The Australian is seven seconds clear of the Kiwi, who finished the 116km stage in 38th place.
Patrick Bevin (BikeNZ) was the best performed New Zealander in ninth, to be 16secs adrift of Haas leading into today's 163km trawl from Ballarat to Bendigo - the longest of the four-stage tour.
Haas, who covered the distance in 3hr 7min 05secs, said he owed his first stage win as a professional for Garmin-Sharp to confidence gained from his strong Tour Down Under performance two weeks ago.
"I know that my form's good now and confidence comes with that," the 24-year-old said.
Haas said his role across the closing stages of the race was designed to deliver team-mate and national criterion champion Steele Von Hoff to the line.
"He was going to take my wheel through that final section, and one of the fantastic things about Steele is that he really thinks about the bigger picture in the sprint."
Obviously he saw the door open for me and he didn't get on it so he left the gap and then I went."
He crossed in front of Orica-GreenEDGE's powerhouse sprinter Matthew Goss and Drapac Professional Cycling's fast-man Jonathan Cantwell.
Haas earned a 10sec bonus to hold Bauer at bay on the general classification.
Prologue podium finisher William Clarke of Drapac Porsche is two seconds behind the Kiwi.
- © Fairfax NZ News