Froome (left) with Kennaugh

British national champion Peter Kennaugh stormed through the first stage of the Herald Sun Tour on Thursday with Chris Froome at his side as Team Sky took charge.

The pair broke away after 97 kilometres (60.3 miles) of the 126.1-kilometre stage through Victoria’s Yarra Valley and could not be caught.

The Sky leaders shared the winning time of three hours, one minute and 47 seconds but Kennaugh took the overall lead by seven seconds with the double Tour de France winner in second.

Froome and Kennaugh, who won the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race at the weekend, launched their attack on the second of two climbs.

They finished with a 17-second advantage over a 29-man chase group led by Kiwi Dion Smith (One) who won the sprint for third.

“The race last week gave us quite a bit of confidence going into today,” Kennaugh said.

“We had a plan for today’s stage which worked out absolutely perfectly. It was to make it hard going into that last climb for ‘Froomey’ to have a go… I was just to follow wheels and judge the situation. 

“If I felt like I could jump across, then do that… once I got across to him I pretty much just sat on his wheel the whole way up the climb,” Kennaugh said.

Despite the Herald Sun being his first event for five months, Froome warned it would now be up to the rest of the peloton to catch him and Kennaugh.

“We’re going to try and protect that (lead) now,” he said.

“Pete’s in great shape, he won Cadel’s race just a few days ago. We’ll try and keep the jersey on his shoulders.”

Australian Will Clarke (Drapac) won the prologue on Wednesday but came in 33rd on Thursday, three minutes in arrears.

Friday’s second stage covers 144.2 kilometres through grazing farmland from Yarra Glen to Moe. – Agence France-Presse

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