Steele von Hoff (Uni SA) won a crash-marred Stage 4 of the Santos Tour Down Under, edging out Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Wouter Wippert (Drapac) in a sprint finish into the town of Mount Barker.
Most of the peloton either went down or could not get past the large crash that occurred with 150 metres left of the stage, and it looked incredibly nasty. There are no confirmed withdrawals from the race yet, but with the state of some of the riders seen crossing the line, there are likely to be some not starting tomorrow.
Von Hoff paid tribute to local teammate Jack Bobridge, stating “Jack was looking after me all the way, saying ‘be patient, be patient, I know these roads like the back of my hand’. I just trusted him and he delivered me to the front in the final kilometre.”
Von Hoff’s win capped a stellar day for the Uni SA team, with Bobridge reclaiming the King of the Mountain jersey.
Bobridge launched his assault on the KOM category by joining the four-man breakaway and then taking maximum KOM points on the climb up Sellicks Hill.
Bobridge is now four points clear of Dennis in the KOM with 20 points, and Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R-La Mondiale) third with 12 points.
Bobridge was part of a breakaway with Cedric Pineau (FDJ), Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky) and Michael Hepburn (Orica-GreenEDGE), though Pineau later complained that the group wasn’t working together and said “Bobridge was up there only for the KOM. Then Hepburn stopped contributing because his teammates wanted to do echelons at the front of the peloton.”
“Kennaugh stopped riding too so I just remained alone at the front.”
Pineau then added that he “continued but with no illusions. It’s frustrating to fight so hard for a breakaway with people who actually don’t want to stay away.”
Today’s result had no bearing on the General Classification with Rohan Dennis still holding a slender lead, meaning the race is likely to be decided with the famous stage that takes the riders up Willunga Hill twice, the latter being for the hilltop finish.
Dennis has an advantage of 7 seconds over teammate Cadel Evans, with Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) a further 2 seconds behind and Richie Porte (Team SKY) looming dangerously in fifth place, just 15 seconds behind Dennis.
It’s definitely a stage for the climbers and the big question is how will BMC Racing attack the stage? Dennis has previously had form on this climb, finishing 5th just 7 seconds behind winner Alejandro Valverde in 2012. Will BMC let Dennis ride his own race or will they pull rank and attempt to set the race up for Evans in his final World Tour event – a risky move given the quality of riders still within striking distance.
Impey’s second place today was enough to give him a commanding 10 point lead over Niccolo Bonfiazio (Lampre-Merida) in the Sprint Classification, with Evans third a further five points behind.
Stage 4 Top 10: Glenelg – Mt Barker
1 Steele von Hoff (AUS) UniSA-Australia 3hr 24min 28sec
2 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEDGE
3 Wouter Wippert (NED) Drapac
4 Heinrich Haussler (AUS) IAM Cycling
5 Samuel Dumoulin (FRA) Ag2R La Mondiale
6 Niccolo Bonifazio (ITA) Lampre Merida
7 Rudiger Selig (GER) Katusha
8 Gianni Meersman (BEL) Etixx-Quick Step
9 Eugenio Alafaci (ITA) Trek Factory Racing
10 Koen de Kort (AUS) Giant-Alpecin
General Classification Top 10
1 Rohan Dennis (AUS) BMC Racing 13hr 41min 34sec
2 Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC Racing 0:00:07
3 Tom Dumoulin (NED) Giant-Alpecin 0:00:09
4 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEDGE 0:00:13
5 Riche Porte (AUS) Sky 0:00:15
6 Jack Haig (AUS) UniSA-Australia
7 Michael Rogers (AUS) Tinkoff-Saxo
8 Ruben Fernandez (ESP) Movistar
9 Maxim Bouet (FRA) Etixx-Quick Step
10 Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) AG2R La Mondiale
You can view a spectator’s footage of the crash here: