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.