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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.

 

Gerrans looks unstoppable as he wins again

Simon Gerrans looks set to win a record fourth Santos Tour Down Under with a second straight stage win. The Orica GreenEDGE star was able to hold off Ben Swift (Sky) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Segafredo) in a tight sprint in front of a massive crowd in Victor Harbor.

 

“I’m absolutely thrilled with that,” Gerrans said after today’s stage win. “A lot of people would be surprised, myself included, that I can beat some top sprinters and get a back-to-back victory at the Santos Tour Down Under.”

 

It was a tough stage for the peloton, with the iconic Norton Summit climb coming just 7kms after the start. The riders then had to battle wind and rain, with race officials having to ready contingency plans as a nasty storm battered much of Adelaide.

 

Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff) kept his hopes of a top 3 finish in the General Classification alive by finishing fourth on the stage and pocketing a 2 second time bonus. McCarthy remains second overall but finds himself 14 seconds behind Gerrans and will need something special on tomorrow’s climbs up Willunga Hill if he’s to secure an unlikely Tour victory.

 

McCarthy has, however, retained the lead in two classifications. Gerrans is 3 points behind McCarthy’s tally of 46 points in the Sprint Classification with Dennis in third on 27 points. McCarthy also has a lead of 14 seconds over Ruben Fernandez (Movistar) and a gap of 36 seconds to Patrick Bevan (Cannondale) in the Young Riders Classification.

 

Reigning champion Rohan Dennis finished 8 seconds behind Gerrans on the stage and although he remains in third place overall, the gap of 26 seconds to the race leader will be tough to overturn, especially considering how good Gerrans’ record is in previous Willunga stages.

 

When asked about his chances of overall success after another dominant stage win, Gerrans said “I’ve increased my lead but I’ll still have to be very attentive before Willunga Hill tomorrow. There’s still a lot of work to be done.”

 

Sergio Henao (Sky) backed up yesterday’s King of the Mountain win up the Corkscrew by winning today’s climb up Crows Nest Road near Port Elliot, ahead of Richie Porte (BMC) and Lucas Hamilton (Uni SA). Henao now has 26 points in the KOM Classification and has a handy lead of 14 points over equal 2nd placed riders Porte and Michael Woods (Cannondale), however with 16 points available on both climbs up Willunga tomorrow it’s a long way from over.

 

Tomorrow’s 151.5km ride around McLaren Vale includes 2 climbs up Category 1 Willunga Hill (3kms at 7.5% average gradient), with the summit of the 2nd climb doubling as the finish line. Gerrans seemingly has one hand on the title, so expect his rivals to attack and attack often tomorrow.

 

 

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.

 

Caleb Ewan wins a hot TDU Stage 1

Caleb Ewan showed just why he’s Australia’s brightest sprint hope as he unleashed a powerful effort to win the opening stage of the Santos Tour Down Under into the town of Lyndoch.

 

After winning the People’s Choice Classic on Sunday, much was expected of Orica GreenEDGE’s rising star, and Ewan didn’t disappoint, riding away from respected sprinters Mark Renshaw (Dimension Data) and Wouter Wippert (Cannondale Pro Cycling) with apparent ease.

 

Ewan will be thankful his team was able to shelter him throughout the day, with strong winds and dust storms battering the peloton on a very hot, dry day.

 

A humble Ewan paid tribute to team leader Simon Gerrans after the race, saying “I need to thank Simon Gerrans for sharing the team with me (because) if he’d asked for the whole team to ride for him we’d do so”, before adding “for a guy like that to tell me you can have your go, I’m really grateful.”

 

“It’ll be a really proud moment for me to race in the ochre jersey tomorrow,” he said. “I’ve never led a World Tour race before and to do it in my own country means a lot to me.”

 

Third place finisher Wippet reserved some special praise for Ewan: “Ewan is too good these days to go that far out. Timing is everything with wind like this and I am happy we didn’t crash”.

 

By winning the opening stage, Ewan has assumed the lead in the General Classification, the 10 second time bonus he earnt putting him 4 seconds clear of Renshaw and Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale) who are tied for 2nd. Gougeard’s time bonuses came courtesy of winning both intermediate sprints on Stage 1, and his attacking ride also earnt him the Most Competitive Rider award.
As well as leading the General Classification, Ewan also finds himself leading the Sprint Classification and the Young Riders Classification.

 

Sean Lake (Uni SA) – who was part of the 3 man break that contained Gougeard and Martijn Keizer (Team Lotto NL-Jumbo) – won the King of the Mountain climb on North East Road and, as a result, leads the King of the Mountain classification.

 

Tomorrow’s stage takes the riders from Unley up into the Adelaide Hills, where they will tackle a loop circuit around Aldgate, Mylor and Stirling, with Stirling the host town for the race finish.

 

The 132km stage is quite hilly but not too severe, with the King of the Mountain climb up Range View Road (1.3kms long, 6.8% gradient) providing the biggest challenge to the riders.

 

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Ewan wins the People’s Choice Classic

Up and coming Australian sprint star Caleb Ewan (Orica GreenEDGE) lived up to the pre race hype by winning the People’s Choice Classic with a powerful burst to see off Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Segafredo) and Adam Blythe (Tinkoff).

 

Over 95,000 people lined the Adelaide Streets to see the riders tackle the 30 lap, 51 kilometre course in the traditional curtain raiser to the Santos Tour Down Under.

 

It was Ewan’s fifth win of the year already, including taking out the Australian Criterium at the national championships and it’s that form that saw him start the race favourite.

 

Ewan’s teammates were content to sit and wait for the latter stages of the race before taking control of the peloton and setting their rising star up for an impressive victory.

 

Team Sky were the first team to show their hand, but ran out of numbers with a couple of laps remaining, handing control of the race to the Australian outfit and they took full toll of the opportunity.

 

After the race, Ewan admitted to some nerves saying “it’s always hard going into a race as favourite, especially when there is a top field here so I was probably more nervous for today more than any of the other races so far”.

 

When asked about how he felt about his Tour Down Under prospects, Ewan added “I’m delighted with this victory but I don’t see a more relaxed approach to the Santos Tour Down Under as we have some high ambitions to win GC and I have personal ambitions to win stages myself”

 

The Tour Down Under begins on Tuesday with Stage 1 taking the riders on a 130 kilometre journey from Prospect to Lyndoch.

 

Cheer returns to the Barossa as Stage 1 pays a visit

Simon Gerrans won the stage, but the people of the Barossa were also winners as the Tour Down Under returned cheer to the streets of this beautiful wine region. After enduring a week of extreme temperatures and battling several bushfires that continue to threaten a number of nearby towns, today was the perfect tonic to return smiles to the locals’ faces.

 

Though the riders were cheered at many vantage points around the course, the real heroes in these parts were the CFS volunteers who have been working around the clock to fight the bushfires during the past week. Many businesses offered free drinks or food to those brave volunteers; just one small way of thanking them for their efforts.

 

After the mercury hit 46 degrees in this region last week, there must have been much relief when a forecasted high of 29 was predicted, and it turned out to be a glorious day, warm but still mild enough that you can stand in the sun while waiting to see the action.

 

Local shops were doing a roaring trade as the towns visited by Stage 1 were awash with lycra clad spectators. Wineries held formal lunches or opened up their lawns for picnics, there were couches on the side of the road, plenty of picnics roadside and even a few ute tray parties as locals and visitors alike celebrated the start of the 2014 Tour Down Under.

 

There were plenty of yellow and blue Bupa jerseys out amongst the crowd, with the brave souls who’ve entered the Bupa Challenge, to be held this Friday, proudly wearing their freshly received jerseys for all to see.

 

The thing that strikes you about this Tour is just how accessible it really is. The start in Nuriootpa was well attended, but there were still plenty of places where you could be standing within metres of some of the top athletes in the world. The pros were happy to sign autographs or have a chat with the fans despite being so close to the start time. Jimmy Jacques presented some of the riders to the crowd as they signed on, and there was a palpable sense of anticipation with the start of this year’s event not far away.

 

Out on the course, it was a real mix of families, cycling groups and friends, with the towns all well populated, Angaston busier than most as people lined the barriers long before the riders arrived for the sprint finish.

 

The big screen near the finish line was the most popular spot for keen followers to be able to keep an eye on the action unfolding out on the course.  The noise was deafening as Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEDGE) and Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) sprinted to the line, and a huge roar greeted the news that the Australian Gerrans had won the opening stage.

 

Gerrans was as surprised as anyone that he managed to beat Greipel in a sprint finish, saying “André is one of the fastest sprinters around so I’m pretty pleased to get him over the line. It was a tough final and everyone was tired coming into the finish. I thought that might have taken the sting out of his legs a little bit. I left my sprint really late because of the head wind. “

 

He also suggested it might have been wise to let the German take the stage so his Lotto Belisol team would assist in defending the jersey, but with the overall win firmly in his sight the time bonus for the win made it worthwhile.

 

Greipel wasn’t too disappointed at missing out on yet another Tour Down Under stage win (he already has a record 13 stage wins here), the big German stating that “it was very hard today, and I am no climber. I tried to go up as fast as possible, so it’s a good sign that the condition is there.”

 

Tomorrow’s Stage 2 from Prospect to Stirling sees the Tour return to the Adelaide Hills, and you can be sure that the crowds will be out in force again, with the Stirling finish always a popular place to catch some of the action.

 

 

Adam Hansen in Polka Dots Gerrans in ochre The crowd at the finish Sweaty work following the Tour IMG_1463 IMG_1452 IMG_1449 IMG_1439 IMG_1433 The finish line The crowd await the riders IMG_1423 IMG_1420 IMG_1417 IMG_1411 IMG_1409 IMG_1402 IMG_1397 Spectators cheer the breakaway Samara finds a wine truck IMG_1392 IMG_1387 IMG_1378 The farmers get into the spirit IMG_1356 IMG_1352 IMG_1347 The riders are coming The bakery was crowded IMG_1329 IMG_1328 IMG_1323 IMG_1315 Kittel and Greipel share a joke before the start IMG_1307 Luke Durbridge chats with fans before the start of Stage 1 Cadel Evans Rider sign on IMG_1300 Andre Greipel IMG_1290 Team Uni SA IMG_1286 Marcel Kittel IMG_1280 Gerrans interviewed by Jimmy Jacques