Orica GreenEDGE’s perfect Tour continued today, with sprint sensation Caleb Ewan winning the stage and Simon Gerrans holding off his challengers to claim his fourth Santos Tour Down Under, adding this year’s edition to the titles he won in 2006, 2012 and 2014.
Almost 100,000 fans lined the Adelaide streets to see Gerrans wrap up the overall honours, while also taking out the iiNet Sprint Classification. Ewan’s stage win was the fourth stage win for Orica GreenEDGE this Tour (2 to Gerrans and 2 to Ewan).
“It’s certainly a dream result and we couldn’t have asked for more,” said Gerrans. “We are so lucky to have this race here in Australia. It’s fantastic to race the Santos Tour Down Under with Orica GreenEDGE, an Aussie team winning a WorldTour race in Australia, it’s just awesome.
“The boys did a sensational job today, they kept me at the front, out of trouble and delivered Caleb (Ewan) as close to the line as possible,” said Gerrans. “What a fantastic week it’s been for us.”
Orica GreenEDGE’s strategy was to try and protect Gerrans, make sure BMC’s Richie Porte didn’t get away to secure any time bonus that might threaten Gerrans’ lead in the General Classification, while also trying to set up Ewan for another crack at a stage win. Ewan certainly didn’t let them down, winning easily from Mark Renshaw (Dimension Data) with Giacomo Nizzoli (Trek Segafredo) third.
“Obviously it wasn’t just a great week for me, the team showed that this week they are by far the strongest,” Ewan said after that race.
“It was always going to be hard to come to this race and chase both stages and overall victory,” said Ewan. “I’m so happy that we came away with four stages and the overall.
“I actually got caught behind on the way down to the finish line (today) and I was way back in the bunch and I had go back to the front,” he added. “Luckily my team-mates brought me up to where I wanted to be for sprinting and it all went well.”
Gerrans claimed the title with a gap of 9 seconds to second placed Porte, Sky’s Sergio Henao in third a further 2 seconds back.
Henao did, however, win the King of the Mountains Classification, his 38 points a clear 10 ahead of Porte in 2nd and 18 clear of Michael Woods (Cannondale) in 3rd.
Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff), so prominent through the week long Tour wearing an array of different jerseys, managed to hold on to the Young Riders Classification while also finishing 4th overall.
“I’m definitely very happy with how it’s gone this week,” said McCarthy. “To finish fourth brings me the confidence I needed and I hope to deliver some more good results, I want to deliver more for the team.
“I loved the crowd and the atmosphere here,” McCarthy added. “I had a lot of my family here to watch me. Every time I’ve done the Tour Down Under, they’ve come to Adelaide as well.
While most of the classifications appeared a foregone conclusion before today’s final stage, the peloton certainly didn’t take it easy, averaging 47km/hr for the 90km stage. An estimated 731,000 spectators turned out to watch this year’s Tour Down Under, one of the reasons why the UCI has given the South Australian Government a promise that this race will remain in Adelaide and with UCI World Event status for as long as they want it.