American cyclist John Murphy won the third stage of Australia’s Herald Sun Tour in a photo finish on Saturday, but Britain’s Peter Kennaugh maintained his overall lead ahead of the final ride.

Murphy (United HealthCare) closed out the stage which ended in a sprint after a straightforward race, just pipping Italian Niccolo Bonifazio (Trek-Segafredo).

“It was a really close finish with Bonifazio,” admitted Murphy after the 146.2-kilometre ride from Traralgon to Inverloch in Victoria state.

“Definitely pretty happy to have that photo.”

Olympic gold-medallist Kennaugh maintained his lead in the overall standings, 13 seconds ahead of Sky team-mate and two-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome.

A group of five riders had broken away early and led for most of the race on Saturday, only to be reeled in with less than 10 kilometres to go.

“It was quite a straightforward day today which was really nice after the last few stages which have been all-go and quite hectic,” Kennaugh said.

“It was nice to sit back, keep the cadence low and the legs fresh for tomorrow.”

Saturday’s stage was earmarked for sprinters with rising star Caleb Ewan seen as the rider to beat. He finished sixth behind fellow Australians Steele Von Hoff (ONE), Jesse Kerrison (State of Matter/MAPP) and Anthony Giacoppo (AUS/Avanti IsoWhey Sport).

In the overall standings, Australia’s Jack Bobridge (Trek-Segafredo) is in third position followed by compatriot Jack Haig (Orica-GreenEDGE) and New Zealander Dion Smith (ONE).

The race will be decided on Sunday with a 121.8-kilometre stage featuring three ascents of Arthurs Seat on the Mornington Peninsula. – Agence France-Presse

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