Gerrans wins it for Australia

Thousands of fans braved the scorching Australia Day sun to come and cheer the riders on the final stage of the Santos Tour Down Under. A German – Lotto Belisol’s Andre Greipel – may have won the stage, but the race this year belonged to the Australians

 

There was plenty of green and gold around the course, with Australian flags also hung from every possible vantage point. Traditional Aussie barbeques appeared to be the flavour of the day, though the many lucky punters in the corporate suites along the finish line opted for more opulent foods.

 

The final stage adopted a new circuit course this year, but much of the course is the same that the People’s Choice Classic has travelled in previous years, yet many of the usually crowded spots were very sparse as they provided no relief from the heat, with the majority heading to the shade of Rymill Park instead.

 

Regardless of the temperature, it was definitely a party atmosphere and with all four major jerseys on offer being worn by Australian, the local contingent of riders doing their best to give the crowd something to cheer about.

 

This stage, more than any other, is a real mix of your keen cycling enthusiasts and those who know very little about the sport but enjoy the atmosphere and the opportunity to enjoy one of the finest free events Adelaide has to offer.

 

One rider who perhaps didn’t enjoy the day as much as the crowd was Angelo Tulik of Europcar, who after managing to get himself into the breakaway on lap one, went down on a corner, lost a decent amount of skin and had to retire.

 

But all this crowd wanted was the Australians to shine on their day and they weren’t disappointed. Aussie Mark Renshaw (Omega-Pharma Quickstep) finished 2nd behind Greipel on the stage, with team mater Andrew Fenn third and adopted Aussie Koen ke Kort of Giant Shimano taking advantage of his team’s sprinter Marcel Kittel being dropped by grabbing fourth place.

 

The stage results results were enough to confirm that the five classifications on offer at this year’s Tour all went to Australians.

 

The presentation ceremony was held in front of a massive crowd, delighted to see Simon Gerrans presented as the overall winner of the 2014 Tour Down Under. Gerrans won by just one second from Cadel Evans (BMC) with Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) finishing third, 5 seconds behind Gerrans.

 

There was also wins for fellow Aussies Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol) who took out the Skoda King of the Mountain Classification and Jack Haig (Uni SA) who won the Cycle Instead Young Riders Classification, while Gerrans efforts were enough to also secure him the win in the Adam Internet Sprint Classification.

 

Orica GreenEdge took out the Hindmarsh Teams Classification, with BMC Racing second some 28 seconds behind and Drapac Cycling putting in an outstanding effort to grab third place, 3’58” behind Orica.

 

All the winners took to the stage to douse the crowd in champagne, drawing the curtain on what has been a highly entertaining and hard fought Tour Down Under.

 

All Australians, particularly South Australians should feel very proud that we host such a wonderful event.

 

The images that have been broadcast to the world confirm that we are lucky to live in such a beautiful area and the racing has been absolutely world class. Ten years ago you couldn’t imagine that a World Tour event of this magnitude would be on our doorstep, and now it’s here we need to do all we can to make sure it stays forever.

 

I’m probably a little biased, but I can’t imagine a better way for the UCI to kick off the Pro season than with the Santos Tour Down Under.

 

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Gerrans grabs the lead, but the crowd are the real winners

What a Santos Tour Down Under we’ve witnessed so far, with Stage 5 providing even more highlights for what’s already been an exciting Tour. It’s pretty hard to mount an argument for a more enthralling Tour Down Under than the 2014 version.

 

You really do run out of things to say about the crowd and the atmosphere that line the streets for every stage, today no exception as many thousands of spectators crammed into the loop course to catch the action.

 

As always, Willunga Hill was the most popular spot, with spot imaginable near the finish line taken long before the riders arrived the first time, but the entire circuit seemed even busier than previous years as barbeques were fired up, picnic rugs laid down and early Australia Day celebrations commenced.

 

And could you ask for a better way to celebrate Australia Day than seeing an Australian win the stage (Richie Porte of Sky Procycling) while two other Australians (Simon Gerrans of Orica GreenEDGE and Cadel Evans of BMC) fought with all they had for the overall win.

 

Evans appears to be marginally the crowd favourite, but Gerrans has his fair share of supporters, but surely neither set of fans would have predicted that Gerrans would snatch the lead back in the General Classification by just 1 second with only tomorrows stage to go, and that stage unlikely to have any impact on the overall standings

 

Every year this race seems to get bigger, attracting more coverage, stronger fields and more support out on the course and this years results will do nothing to stop that trend continuing into the future.

 

The riders love this race as much as the fans, with the novelty of returning to the same hotel room each night in a stage race greatly appreciated, as it allows families to join up with the athletes and also means they don’t have to pack and unpack their belongings each day.

 

Though there is still a lingering anti-cyclist sentiment amongst some of the everyday populous, the Santos Tour Down Under is definitely bringing more and more interest to the world of professional cycling, and at street level that can only be a good thing as recreational cyclists have been the poor cousin of road users for far too long.

 

One stage left is all we have, but it’s always a fantastic stage to attend, with a festival like atmosphere and it gives us one last chance to cheer for our heroes and one last to chance to mingle with the riders as our Tour draws to a close. This race does whet the appetite for the cycling season ahead, but nothing compares to actually being out in the thick of the action and I’m already counting down the days until next years race.

 

Tour Down Under Stage 6 Spectator Guide

It’s the last stage of the 2014 Tour Down Under and it’s always one of the most popular.

 

The course has changed this year due to the area surrounding Adelaide Oval being off limits due to the Australia Day ODI, but the new circuit promises to be just as good.

 

There are 18 laps of a 4.75 kilometre circuit for a total of 85.5 kilometres.  The Adam Internet sprint point is set up on Bartels Road and will be contested on laps 6, 12 and 18.

 

Rymill Park will be very popular, as the race skirts around the Park in it’s entirety, while Flinders Street will see the riders travel on both sides of the road, meaning you can catch them going past a whopping 36 times.

 

The Tour Village is also sure to be popular, as the race will go past the eastern edge of the Village in Victoria Square.

 

This stage is always packed, and the circuit this year is smaller than previous years, so getting there early will be the key. If you are there early, there will be no shortage of prime viewing positions, but if you get there too late you won’t be able to see much.

Once the race is finished, the presentation podium will be set up in Rymill Park and the Tour Down Under will officially close for another year.

 

Usually after the presentations most fans head to Rundle Street, and while many still will this year, the race also travels near Gouger Street this year and it’s packed full of fantastic places to eat.

 

 

Greipel gives the masses something to cheer in Victor

Another fantastic day at the Tour Down Under, with Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) securing his first win of this year’s event in front of a massive crowd in seaside Victor Harbor.

 

The day kicked off in inner city Unley and the turnout was huge. Cafes were packed with hungry fans, all enjoying a spot of breakfast before the riders rolled out.

 

There was even a joey being passed to many of the riders, race leader Cadel Evans (BMC) particularly keen for a cuddle.

 

It was baking hot in the sun, but it didn’t dampen the atmosphere, and with the local paper having given out thousands of cowbells, the riders left the start line to a din of bells ringing.

 

The course layout was tough for those who like to get ahead of the riders and watch them pass on several occasions and we made our way to Mount Compass, some 80 kilometres after the race start.

 

A small but enthusiastic crowd braved the heat to stake a spot and watch the peloton race by.

 

There was even a cow by the side of the road, promoting the Compass Cup – Australia’s only cow race, which is due to be held tomorrow. Ironically, there was not a cowbell in sight here.

 

The Mount Compass Tavern was doing a roaring trade as people sought refreshments before the riders arrived.

 

And when the men in lyrca did ride past the small crowd made a considerable amount of noise, some even chanting “Evans, Evans”.

 

With some of the 6,000 Bupa Challenge recreational riders still on the course (all made to pull of on the side of the road when the pros bore down on them), making progress in the car was tricky, so we were left with little option but to head to Victor Harbor for the finish.

 

6,000 riders doesn’t sound like a lot, but arriving in Victor Harbor you realise just how many that really is – the whole town was awash with people in yellow and blue jerseys wheeling bicycles.

 

Finding a park was impossible, as was walking on the footpath, but the crowd was in great spirits with so many just having completed their daunting ride.

 

There was a giant screen set up in the park near the finish line and spectators crammed into every nook and cranny trying to find somewhere to watch the race.

 

All of the shops were packed with hungry or thirsty people, none more so than a couple of the ice cream shops that had line ups well out of the door.

 

The crowd was at least ten people deep along the barriers near the finish line, and when Greipel broke clear to sprint to the line you could barely hear yourself think, the noise was incredible.
Despite how tricky it is to get into (and as we found out later, to get out of) Victor for the finish, the atmosphere created by the massive amount of people there made it all worthwhile.

 

The presentations were extremely well attended, though the crowd did boo when Jimmy Jacques was forced to apologise on behalf of Cadel Evans who chose not to hang around for the usual interview of the race leader.

 

I can understand the frustration of the crowd, however if Cadel jumped in a car and left as soon as he was presented with his ochre jersey, he wouldn’t not encounter much traffic.

 

Staying for an interview and leaving 15 minutes later and he’d be stuck in the same gridlock we were.  Greipel didn’t arrive back at the Tour Village until almost 7pm whereas Evans would have arrived over an hour earlier, and given he needs to go through his recovery routine as he looks to defend his jersey on the race defining stage tomorrow, his decision is understandable.

 

And speaking of the gridlock, it was bumper to bumper traffic from Victor Harbor all the way back to the city fringes, I’ve never encountered anything like it in Adelaide. It was slow going, but at least I was in an air conditioned Skoda, many of the brave Bupa riders who’d ridden all the way to Victor had jumped back into the saddle to ride home – chapeau to all of them!

 

After a difficult day to catch the riders, tomorrow stage will be a major contrast, with plenty of viewing options no matter where you choose to go on the course.

 

It also promises to be very exiting, with Simon Germans (Orica GreenEDGE) cutting Evans lead to just 7 seconds in the General Classification, the second climb to the top of Willunga Hill sure to see attacks from both riders as they try and win this year’s Tour.

 

Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol) holds the outright lead in the Skoda King of the Mountain Classification with 24 points, Axel Domont (AG2R) second with 22 points and William Clarke (Drapac) third on 20 points.

 

Gerrans looks to have wrapped up the Adam Internet Sprint Classification; his tally of 62 points is 20 points clear of his nearest rival Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida), with Evans a further 7 points behind.

 

Jack Haig (Uni SA) is the new leader of the Cycle Instead Young Rider Classification; Cameron Wurf (Cannondale) was the day’s Europcar Most Aggressive Rider and BMC still leading the Hindmarsh Winning Team Classification.

 

 

 

 

Tour Down Under Stage 4 spectators guide

Stage 4 of the 2014 Santos Tour Down Under leaves inner city Unley on a 148.5 kilometre journey to Victor Harbor on the Fleurieu Peninsula.

 

Before the pros tackle the circuit, over 6,000 recreational riders will attempt the course as part of the Bupa Challenge Tour.

 

The streets will be turned blue and yellow as these amateurs proudly wear their Bupa Challenge jerseys on the long slog to Victor.

 

The pros will leave Unley at 11:30 am and head up into the Adelaide Hills and although there are no King of the Mountain climbs as they make their way to Stirling, there is quite a lot of climbing to be done.

 

After leaving the Freeway the riders head to the first Adam Internet sprint point, occurring in the charming little town of Echunga after 25.5 kilometres.

 

Echunga boasts one of the nicest country golf course in South Australia, but then as a member perhaps I am a little biased!

 

The course then takes the peloton through Meadows and Mount Compass, before the King of the Mountain climb is contested up Reservoir Road in Myponga. The climb is a Category 2 climb, with an average gradient of 4.5% over it’s 2.2 kilometer length, much more cyclist friendly than the Corkscrew encountered on the previous stage.

 

The seaside town of Normanville sees the stage swing towards Victor Harbor, with the final Adam Internet sprint point found on Inman Valley Road, Yankalilla. From there it’s just over 30 kilometres to what is expected to be a fast bunch sprint finish in Victor Harbor.

 

It’s another route that may prove difficult to see the riders in action more than a couple of times, but there will be some very scenic spots to enjoy the action as the riders skirt around the coast in Carrickalinga and Normanville.

 

There’s a long drag uphill along Victor Harbor Road, Mount Compass that offers the chance to see the riders going slowly, while if you venture into Victor Harbor you should see a very exciting finish.

 

Finally, my food and drink recommendations for Stage 4:

 

Alexandrina Cheese Company, Sneyd Road, Mount Compass

Follow the signs from Victor Harbor Road to taste some of the best cheeses going around – their plan old Cheddar is a personal favourite of mine. There is also a café so you can stop for a coffee or a milkshake.

 

Red Door Bakery, 54 King William Road, Goodwood

Head a few hundred metres towards the city from the start line and you’ll find the Red Door Bakery. You’ll also find long lines but there is a reason – the food is outstanding. No matter what you choose, you’ll be glad you made the visit.

 

Hagen Arms Hotel, 1 Angus Road, Echunga

Situated just after the first sprint point, this quaint little country pub is right on the race route and the perfect place to grab a cool drink and watch the riders whizz by.

 

Bupa Stage 4 details

Start: 11:30 am – King William Road, Unley (near Park Street)

Finish: 3:25 pm – Esplanade, Victor Harbor (near Albert Place)

 

You can follow Jason Kohlmorgen on Twitter – @jasonkohlmorgen

 

Cadel dominates on the Corkscrew

What a fantastic day to be out and about for the Tour Down Under today, with Cadel Evans surging up the Corkscrew to take the King of the Mountain points and then fly into Campbelltown to take the stage win and the lead in the General Classification.

 

It’s not easy to get to the Corkscrew, with Corkscrew Road closed all day and the stage taking the riders along the surrounding areas, if you’re not on a bike it takes some careful planning to get yourself there, but you wouldn’t know it with car parking at a premium and thousands of riders making the trek to watch the action.

 

Some keen spectators got there as early as 8am, while many of the cyclists took this opportunity to do repeats up and down the Corkscrew, lapping up the adulation of those lining the course.

 

One of the interested spectators was Noel McCarthy, owner of Bike Station, who luckily managed to secure the day off to come and watch the action with a number of his mates all adorned in Bike Station jerseys.

 

When the helicopters could be heard in the distance – a sure sign the riders are not far away – everyone was on their feet and trying to find a position as best they could, the hill literally jam packed and the atmosphere nothing short of electric.

 

And the noise when the crowd finally got a peek of the leading rider and realising it was crowd favourite Cadel Evans (BMC) was deafening. Cheering, whistling and a constant ring of cow bells greeted Evans as he reached the summit; it was one of those sporting moments where you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world. Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEDGE) and Richie Porte (Sky Procycling) were also treated to rapturous applause as they attempted to catch Evans, but it was to no avail as Evans was just too good on the day.

 

The pace the leaders went up the Corkscrew had split the peloton, with riders coming through in dribs and drabs, many chosing to play up to the crowd, Marcel Sieberg (Lotto Belisol) waving like a madman, Mikhail Ignatyev (Katusha) climbing out of the saddle and sprinting to the top with his tongue hanging out and a number of wheelies, with the best from Neil Van Der Ploeg (Uni SA) and Stig Broecxk (Lotto Belisol).

 

Earlier in the day the stage started from a packed Parade in Norwood, with the Cafes doing a roaring trade as people chose to have a bite to eat before watching the race roll out.

 

There were penny farthings being ridden, people offering the riders gifts – including one young lady who gave giant roses to Jens Voigt (Trek) and Marcel Kittel (Giant Shimano), and lots of people setting up picnics on the free tables provided by the local Council.

 

The Tour Parade was also doing a roaring trade, handing out their freebies to the crowd. Krystil Ellis from the Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure was so swamped for her Department’s bike shaped sunglasses promoting cycling instead of using other forms of transport that she ran out an hour before the stage was due to start.

 

Mike Turtur, Tour Director, led the riders out of Norwood to a large roar from the crowd and Stage 3 was underway.

 

This stage was incredibly difficult to catch the riders in action due to the course chosen, but it gave me an opportunity to test out the Skoda in the country terrain and see if I could beat the riders to the first sprint point in Kersbrook, which I’m happy to report we did with minutes to spare, no small thanks to the Skoda.

 

A small crowd was there to cheer the riders as Travis Meyer (Drapac) secured the win in the first Adam Internet sprint from Andriy Grivko (Astana) and Jerome Cousin (Europcar).

 

Colin Thomas had one of the best views in the house as he attended a Tour party at his niece’s house which was situated conveniently at the finish line looking down onto the course.

 

Watching the action intently was a group of mates who’d had their own jerseys created specially for the Tour, each with their nickname on the back. Corey Knight said he’d come from Canowindra for the race, with most of the others from Coffs Harbour. It had been a brain child of David Munro a few tours ago, this group making their 3rd visit to the Tour.

 

Once the peloton passed through the sprint point, there was no time to catch them in action again, so we made our way to the Corkscrew to secure our spot.

 

With the stage finish coming just 7 kilometres after the summit of the Corkscrew, there would not have been time to make it into Campbelltown so we made our way back to the Tour Village. The riders head back to the Village after each stage, mingling with the crowd – another fantastic part of this event as the fans are able to get up and close with their heroes just minutes after competing.

 

The race is also hotting up, with Cadel Evans now holding a 12 second advantage over Simon Gerrans in the General Classification, and Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) in third, 15 seconds behind Evans.

 

Gerrans retains the lead in the Adam Internet Sprint Classification with 42 points, Ulissi second with 40 points and Evans rocketing into third place on 35 points.

 

Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol) and William Clarke (Drapac) are still tied for the Skoda King of the Mountains Classification, but after his efforts on the Corkscrew today Evans is now third, just 4 points behind the leaders.

 

After an impressive effort on the day’s stage, Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) has taken the lead in the Cycle Instead Young Rider Classification with a 17 second advantage over Luca Wackermann (Lampre-Merida) and Jack Haig (Uni SA).

 

Tomorrow sees the amateurs ride the course route before the Professionals with the Bupa Challenge taking them from Unley to Victor Harbor. It promises to be another great day of action in what so far has been an action packed Tour.

 

Tour Down Under Stage 3 Spectators Guide

The Tour Down Under returns to the streets of Norwood, with the start of the Thomas Foods Stage 3 on the Parade sure to draw a big crowd.

 

The riders will cover 145 kilometres, travelling through the Barossa Valley and the Adelaide Hills before heading back into the metropolitan area for the finish.

 

There will be some familiarity in the early parts of the stage as riders visit some of the towns they rode through today, including Kersbrook, which will host the Adam Internet sprint point on Scott Street after 38.7 kilometres.

 

Williamstown is the next big town ahead, and when they reach Mt Crawford Road the second Adam Internet sprint point awaits the peloton after 53.5 kilometres of the stage having passed.

 

After leaving Williamstown, the riders have a fairly easy ride up through Springton and Mount Pleasant, with the terrain reasonably flat, though once they hit Mount Torrens they do have a couple of little climbs.

 

The easy day will end with about 10 kilometres to go as the infamous Corkscrew awaits the peloton. Having tackled this climb last year, I can assure you it’s not a lot of fun, it’s quite a long, hard drag just to get to the start of the climb and then it’s over 2 kilometres of climbing at an average gradient over 9%.
This is sure to split the peloton up a bit, and with the climb being classified as a Category 1, there are plenty of King of the Mountain points on offer – 16 points for the winner and points awarded all the way down to 6th place. With Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol) and William Clarke (Drapac) tied for the lead in the King of the Mountains Classification, expect to see moves from both riders on the Corkscrew.

 

Once they reach the summit of the Corkscrew it’s a very fast 7.4 kilometres to the finish in Campbelltown. There were a number of crashes on this descent last year as riders take risks to try and bridge any gaps created on the climb, and you can expect more of the same this year.

 

For those heading out to watch the race, the Corkscrew is sure to provide fantastic viewing. Last year it felt like being on one of the big mountains in the Tour de France (except for extreme heat!) and the atmosphere should be similar again here.

 

There is only one small loop on the course, with Inglewood seeing the riders twice, so that is another good option, while the finish in Campbelltown will be one of the less crowded finishes as most racegoers are still up on the Corkscrew.

 

Picking a winner of the stage isn’t easy, but it certainly won’t be a pure sprinter. Whoever wins will need to be able to climb well and still sprint to the line, so I’d be looking to one of the previous two stage winners of this year’s Tour – race leader Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEDGE) or winner of Stage 2 Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida).

 

For those looking for somewhere to go for a bite to eat or something to drink, here are my recommendations:

 

Inglewood Inn, 1931 North East Road, Inglewood

The place was all done up today as we went through, there is plenty of car parking and the riders go past twice tomorrow, right around lunchtime, so there is no better place to grab something to eat!

 

The Corner Shop Bakery, 3 Queen Street, Williamstown

I popped in here last year for something to eat and the choices were many. I ended up with a pie and it’s one of my fond food memories of the 2013 Tour! Located on a nice corner on the stage route too, so you can grab yourself something to eat and cheer on the riders as the fly past.

 

Fudge It, 145 Montacute Road, Newton

Located just 200 metres past the finish line in Campbelltown, as the name suggests they make fudge, and quality fudge at that – try the Rocky Road! If you’re heading to the finish, head in, grab some fudge, pack it in your panniers and stake a spot by the finish line.

 

Thomas Foods Stage 3 details

Start: 11:00 am – The Parade, Norwood (opposite the Town Hall)

Finish: 2:45pm (approx.) – Montacute Road, Campbelltown (opposite the Council offices)

 

You can follow Jason Kohlmorgen on twitter – @jasonkohlmorgen