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Gerrans caps off Orica GreenEDGE’s perfect Tour

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.

 

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Gerrans pips Dennis in Campbelltown thriller

If Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEDGE) was feeling the effects of his crash late on yesterday’s stage, he certainly didn’t show it as he summoned every ounce of strength to ride over the top of last year’s winner Rohan Dennis (BMC) and claim the win in Stage 3 of the Santos Tour Down Under.

 

At the end of the 139km stage, just ten riders were left at the front to tackle the super fast 5.7km descent from the summit of the gruelling Corkscrew climb into the finish at Campbelltown, and it looked for a while like the duo of Sergio Henao (Sky) and Michael Woods (Cannondale) would fight for the win, the pair cresting the famous Corkscrew with a handy little break.

 

Richie Porte (BMC) led the small chasing group left to close the gap at speeds touching 104km/hr on the descent, and once Henao and Woods were caught it was left to the main contenders to fight it out.

 

Dennis looked a certain winner, but Gerrans’ sprint was timed perfectly and, after the judges studied the photo carefully, he was given the win.

 

Gerrans’ quest for a fourth Tour Down Under title remains on course, the victory strengthening his grip on the Ochre Jersey. As is often the case when wearing the leader’s jersey, Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff) rode strongly and managed to stay with the leaders, grabbing fourth on the stage, leaving him 3 seconds behind Gerrans overall, with Dennis in third position, 5 seconds behind Gerrans.

 

Gerrans admitted the victory wasn’t easy, stating “it was super tough going up the Corkscrew, there are obviously some good climbers in the race and I had to dig deep to stay up there.

 

“I just came back over the top to the guys in front of me to catch the escapees right at the beginning of the descent”.

 

Not everyone enjoyed the stage as much as Gerrans, with Tyler Farrar (Dimension Data) having to borrow a bike from a spectator after a crash left him without a bike, and neither the team car nor the neutral service was able to reach him. Race officials could have disqualified Farrar for accepting outside assistance, but given the exceptional circumstances the judges have allowed him to continue in the race.

 

McCarthy picked up two 3rd places in the intermediate sprints, worth 4 points, and he now holds the lead in the Sprint Classification by precisely that margin on 31 points with Dennis 2nd on 27 and Gerrans and Caleb Ewan (Orica GreenEDGE) tied for 3rd on 23 points.

 

The 16 points that Sergio Henao gained by winning the King of the Mountain climb up the Corkscrew has seen him take the lead in the KOM Classification, with Michael Woods in 2nd (14 points) and Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff) and Sean Lake (Uni SA) both tied for 3rd on 10 points.

 

Tomorrow’s stage of the Tour Down Under takes the riders from Norwood to Victor Harbor, a distance of 138kms. The riders tackle the nasty Norton Summit climb early, though the King of the Mountain climb comes late in the stage, on the 4km climb up Crows Nest Road near Port Elliot (average gradient 5.8%). It’s another stage for the main contenders to try and gain some bonus time, as one of the most even Tours for many a year heads into a thrilling conclusion.

 

Dennis retains Ochre despite Porte’s brilliant attack

Rohan Dennis has held on to his Ochre jersey despite a brilliant attack by Richie Porte on Willunga Hill in the penultimate stage of the Santos Tour Down Under.

Porte (Team Sky) launched his attack with less than two kilometres left on Stage 5, with Dennis and BMC teammate Cadel Evans able to go with him early, before Evans found the pace too hot and was dropped.

Dennis clung to Porte’s wheel with everything he had, but with 800 metres to go the pace Porte was pushing was too much, allowing him to pull away from Dennis.

It looked like Porte might be going well enough to gain the 15 seconds he needed to take the lead in the General Classification, but Dennis dug deep and used every ounce of strength to minimise the damage.

After the stage, a relieved Dennis said “Richie went, in hindsight, probably a bit too late because really he had better legs than me today so I gotta thank him but also my team was absolutely awesome, absolutely awesome.”

Porte thoroughly deserved the stage win but looked shattered to see that he had only taken 9 seconds off Dennis, meaning that once time bonuses were applied Dennis had a two second advantage in the GC.

There is still a chance that Porte could win the Tour Down Under in tomorrow’s final stage if he can match it with the sprinters and finish in the top 3; the time bonus would dislodge Dennis, provided Dennis does not also finish in the first 3 placings.

That task is much easier said than done, however, as there will be many teams interested in the stage win, and some very good sprinters likely to feature in the finish.

Porte, himself, admitted that he hasn’t given up hope yet.

“I am very happy to win the stage,” said Porte. “It’s a great way to start the year and my team has been fantastic.

Full credit to Rohan, I mean I gave it to him as hard as I could but it just wasn’t quite to be.

I was hoping to finish it (the GC race) off here but it’s so nice to win on this stage but it is a bit disappointing to be so close to the jersey but we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Evans battled on bravely to secure 4th spot on the stage and 3rd position on the GC, meaning a podium finish in his final World Tour race is likely, but he will have been bitterly disappointed that he didn’t have the legs when he needed them most.

Evans trails Dennis by 20 seconds so cannot secure a top 2 finish, but will need to make sure that Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) doesn’t pick up a time bonus, as he has a lead of just 2 seconds over the Dutchman.

Jack Bobridge (Uni SA) has sewn up the Subaru King of the Mountain title as he found his way into another breakaway, and though it disintegrated before the summit of the first climb up Willunga, Bobridge had enough legs to go solo and take the first lot of KOM points on offer.

Bobridge has had an outstanding Tour and has admitted that he may not proceed with his attempt at the Hour Record now.

Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEDGE) still leads the iiNET Sprint Classification with 39 points, with Evans 2nd on 37 and Dumoulin 3rd with 36 points. With a potential 25 points on offer for the stage and intermediate sprint winners on the final stage, there is plenty of interest remaining in this Classification.

The final stage is a 90km, 20 lap race around the Adelaide city streets, and a massive crowd is expected. They are certain to be saluting yet another Australian Tour winner, the only question is will be it Dennis or Porte.

Stage 5 Top 10: 151.5km, McLaren Vale – Willunga Hill

1 Richie Porte (AUS) Team Sky     3:37:32

2 Rohan Dennis (AUS) BMC Racing Team     0:00:09

3 Rubén Fernandez (ESP) Movistar Team     0:00:16

4 Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC Racing Team

5 Tom Dumoulin (NED) Team Giant-Alpecin

6 Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) AG2R La Mondiale     0:00:19

7 Tiago Machado (POR) Team Katusha     0:00:24

8 Moreno Moser (ITA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team     0:00:26

9 Gorka Izagirre Insausti (ESP) Movistar Team     0:00:28

10 Arnold Jeannesson (FRA) FDJ.fr

General Classification Top 10:

1 Rohan Dennis (AUS) BMC Racing Team     17hr 19min 09sec

2 Richie Porte (AUS) Team Sky     0:00:02

3 Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC Racing Team     0:00:20

4 Tom Dumoulin (NED) Team Giant-Alpecin     0:00:22

5 Rubén Fernandez (ESP) Movistar Team     0:00:24

6 Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) AG2R La Mondiale     0:00:31

7 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEdge     0:00:38

8 Tiago Machado (POR) Team Katusha     0:00:46

9 Gorka Izagirre Insausti (ESP) Movistar Team     0:00:52

10 Jarlinson Pantano (COL) IAM Cycling     0:00:53  BMC controlling the chase Evans and Dennis are well protected Plenty of Aussie support Riders strung out as the pace picks up Team Sky looking ominous The breakaway in Willunga

Von Hoff wins a crash marred Stage 4

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:

The crash

BMC control the early stages Cadel Evans finishes safely Jack Bobridge leads the KOM again Kennaugh limps in after the crash Lars Boom and Maarten Tjallingii walk to the finish Marcel Kittel looking relaxed Rohan Dennis interviewed Rohan Dennis tosses his flowers to the crowd Stage winner Steele von Hoff Steele von Hoff sprints to victory The Breakaway rehydrate The bunch approaches the feed station The first breakaway attempt The Ochre Jersey takes on food The peloton on the Expressway Vladimir Isaichev may struggle to sleep tonight

Dennis attacks to win Stage 3

Rohan Dennis of BMC Racing catapulted himself into the overall lead of the Santos Tour Down Under after securing an emotional victory on Stage 3.

Dennis dedicated the win to his father, Brenton, who was unable to attend the stage as he was in hospital, having suffered a fractured pelvis in a bike crash earlier that day.

The climb up Torrens Hill was expected to shape the race and it didn’t disappoint, with Dennis riding away from teammate Cadel Evans and Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) 200 metres from the summit of the Category 1 King of the Mountain climb, then holding his advantage to the finish line a further 300 metres up the road to secure the stage win.

BMC had devised a plan to have Dennis attack halfway up the climb in order to set the race up for Evans but he wasn’t close enough to the front at that time.

There was some suggestion that Evans wasn’t impressed that Dennis decided to go for the stage win so late, although he was seen bumping fists with BMC support crew after the stage, suggesting he was happy to support his protégé.

When asked how the win would change the team’s plans, Dennis said “I have the ochre jersey now but Cadel and I are still both protected, there’s still Willunga and a lot of racing to come”.

Evans played down any talk of unrest in the team, stating after the race that “we had a plan, covering two bases, but I want to lend a favour to my teammates when I can, so we wanted to give Rohan and Peter (Stetina) the chance to make an attack anywhere they could. That move really worked for us, and I am sure Rohan is going to be pretty happy.”

The win saw Dennis move 7 seconds clear at the top of the General Classification, with Evans second and Dumoulin third, 9 seconds back.

A four-man breakaway containing Will Clarke (Drapac), Axel Domont (AG2R-La Mondiale), Lasse Norman Hansen (Cannondale-Garmin) and Calvin Watson (Trek Racing) formed early and stayed away for most of the day, and Clarke made the most of his time out in front by winning all 3 sprints to bank some useful pocket money.

Cadel Evans now shares the lead in the iiNet Sprint Classification with Tom Dumoulin, both riders amassing 25 points, with yesterday’s stage winner Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) just 1 point adrift in third position.

By taking the KOM points, Dennis has also assumed control of the Subaru King of the Mountain jersey, his total of 16 points giving him a lead of 4 over Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R-La Mondiale).

At just 24 years of age, Dennis also leads the Young Riders Classification, with Dumoulin just 9 seconds behind and Jack Haig (Uni SA) a further 6 seconds back.

Much of the interest now will focus around the tactics of BMC; will they continue to try setup Evans for the overall win in his final World Tour Race or will they work for Dennis? It is likely to all depend on the two climbs up Willunga Hill on Stage 5, as tomorrow’s Stage 4 is expected to result in a bunch sprint.

Tomorrow sees the race take in 144km from seaside Glenelg to Mount Barker in the Adelaide Hills, and with the course following the coastline for the first 44kms, it is sure to make for picturesque viewing.

Stage 3 Top 10: 143.2km, Norwood – Paracombe

1 Rohan Dennis (AUS) BMC Racing 3hr 35min 8sec

2 Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC Racing 0:00:03

3 Tom Dumoulin (NED) Giant-Alpecin

4 Maxim Bouet (FRA) Etixx-Quick Step 0:00:05

5 Michael Rogers (AUS) Tinkoff-Saxo

6 Riche Porte (AUS) Sky

7 Jack Haig (AUS) UniSA-Australia

8 Ruben Fernandez (ESP) Movistar

9 Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) AG2R La Mondiale

10 Simon Geschke (GER) Giant-Alpecin 0:00:13

General Classification Top 10

1 Rohan Dennis (AUS) BMC Racing 10hr 17min 6sec

2 Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC Racing 0:00:07

3 Tom Dumoulin (NED) Giant-Alpecin 0:00:09

4 Riche Porte (AUS) Sky 0:00:15

5 Jack Haig (AUS) UniSA-Australia

6 Ruben Fernandez (ESP) Movistar

7 Michael Rogers (AUS) Tinkoff-Saxo

8 Maxim Bouet (FRA) Etixx-Quick Step

9 Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) AG2R La Mondiale

10 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEDGE 0:00:22

Breakaway basket range Bunch through feed station Calvin Watson takes food Evans after finish Evans looking relaxed Kennaugh prepares Kittel gets ready Paracombe cheer Dennis Peloton heading towards Lobethal Peloton ready to roll Puccio interviewed Riders seeking shade Rohan Dennis after finish Scenic views for breakaway Simon Clarke after finish Sky head the peloton Sky on the front Sky travel in style

The Tour Down Under is back

The Tour Down Under is back for 2014, hitting the streets of Adelaide for the People’s Choice Classic, a fast 50km criterium that traditionally opens the Tour Down Under carnival, though the race does not count towards TDU standings.

 

People flocked to the city to catch of glimpse of the riders as they kicked off the UCI Pro season.

 

There were barbeques and marquees everywhere, thousands of fans – many decked out in lycra with a bike in tow – and even a food truck festival inside the circuit, as Adelaide put on a show worthy of such a wonderful event.

 

It was fantastic to see so many families lining the course, many children adorned with sponsors apparel handed out by the cars in the Tour Parade before the race.  There aren’t many elite sports where you can get so close to the action for free, and it’s little wonder this event continues to grow in stature every year.

 

The racing was fast and action packed, with a fantastic sprint finish by the two gun German sprinters, three time Classic winner Andre Greipel of Lotto Belisol and youngster Marcel Kittel of Giant Shimano, with rising star Kittel riding past Greipel in the last few metres to win his first People’s Choice Classic.

 

The Tour Down Under kicks off with the San Remo Pasta Stage 1 on Tuesday, a 135km journey from Nuriootpa to Angaston. Keep following us here on Rolling in the Heat for the most comprehensive coverage of Australia’s premier cycling event. Stories, photographs and more, this is your place for the Tour Down Under in 2014.IMG_0983 IMG_0988 IMG_0993 IMG_1022 IMG_1029 IMG_1048 IMG_1060 IMG_1063 IMG_1076 IMG_1086 IMG_1100 IMG_1106 IMG_1114 IMG_1144 IMG_1152 IMG_1166 IMG_1179 IMG_1183 IMG_1188 IMG_1191 IMG_1197 IMG_1202 IMG_1207 IMG_1208 IMG_1222 IMG_1224 IMG_1228 IMG_1234 IMG_1251 IMG_1261 TDU PCC 1