Herald Sun Tour: Chris Froome can still retain title - Team Sky

Chris Froome
Froome is looking to become the first rider in more than a decade to claim back-to-back titles at this race

Team Sky believe Britain's Chris Froome can retain his Herald Sun Tour title in Australia, despite remaining one minute 12 seconds behind race leader Damien Howson going into Sunday's final stage.

American Travis McCabe won Saturday's crash-marred third stage.

A 7km climb features on each of the four laps on stage four.

And while Team Sky sporting director Brett Lancaster said the 121km course was not hard enough, he said "never say never" about Froome's chances.

"He's an animal," Lancaster told the Herald Sun. "He's a racer. He's a gentleman off the bike, but when he gets on the bike - that rhino he's got on his bike is there for a reason."

The three-time Tour de France champion and Orica-Scott's Howson of Australia were held up in Saturday's crash, just 1.5km from the finish line.

McCabe was one of only a handful of riders to emerge from the pile-up and beat Australians Mitch Docker and Leigh Howard, with Froome's team-mate Luke Rowe, who won stage two, in fourth.

Australian Howson retained his lead with Jai Hindley in second place, 38 seconds behind, with Froome back in sixth.

Stage three result

1. Travis McCabe (US/UnitedHealthcare) 3hrs 46 mins

2. Mitch Docker (Aus/Orica-Scott) Same time

3. Leigh Howard (Aus/Aqua Blue Sport)

4. Luke Rowe (GB/Team Sky)

5 Aleksei Tcatevich (Rus/Gazprom-RusVelo

6. Benjamin Hill (Aus/Attaque Team Gusto)

General classification

1. Damien Howson (Aus/Orica-Scott) 12hrs 32mins 12secs

2. Jai Hindley (Aus/Australian National Team ) + 38secs

3. Kenny Elissonde (Fra/Team Sky) +53secs

4. Cameron Meyer (Aus/Australian National Team) +1min 8secs

5. Michael Storer (Aus/Australian National Team) +1min 10secs

6/ Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +1min 12secs

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