Tag Archives: sky

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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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

Kittel’s stage, but it’s Froome’s big day.

The 2013 Tour de France finished the same way it began, with a stage win to rising star Marcel Kittel of Argos-Shimano.

 

The young German showed that he is the next big thing in sprinting as he denied Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) a fifth straight win on the Champs-Elysees.

 

Kittel’s Argos-Shimano team-mates got their lead-out almost perfect, and when he hit the front with 100 metres to go – perhaps just a fraction too early – he still had a lot of work to do.

 

On his wheel was Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) and Cavendish was sitting right behind Greipel, but Kittel didn’t look back as he powered on to a fourth stage victory in this Tour, with Greipel edging out Cavendish in a photo finish.

 

Kittel’s win in the twilight of Paris was another highlight in the 100th Tour de France, but the day really belonged to Chris Froome (Sky).

 

By making Paris safely, Froome was confirmed as the winner of this year’s Tour.

 

Froome’s final margin of 4’20” over second placed Nairo Quintana (Movistar) looks comfortable enough, but it wasn’t always the case.

 

He was isolated in the Pyrenees and had to deliberately violate race rules and send teammate Richie Porte back to get him food on the second climb of Alpe d’Huez on Stage 18 as he hit the hunger wall.

 

Still, his lead was so large in the end that he chose to slip off the back of the peloton with his Sky teammates on today’s stage in order to cross the line as one with linked arms.

 

The move cost him 53 seconds in the overall classification, but the size of the final margin mattered little, this was about Froome celebrating with the guys who, at the end of the day, did a brilliant job keeping him in yellow throughout this year’s race.

 

There were also the relentless allegations of doping. Whether or not history proves these allegations to be founded remains to be seen, but Froome has handled the constant questioning with aplomb.

 

In his victory speech, Froome stated emphatically that this is a yellow jersey that will stand the tests of time. He also said that the peloton has changed, and they won’t stand for the things they used to accept as normal in the past.

 

Froome dedicated the victory to his late mother, saying without her support in the early days he’d probably be at home watching it on TV like everyone else.

 

Whatever your opinion on Froome, you have to admire the way he’s raced this Tour, and the way he’s handled the constant questioning and speculation as to the extents Sky will go to for what they call marginal gains.

 

It’s been a grueling 3 weeks of racing, but there can be no doubt that Froome was indeed the strongest man. Whilst you can’t underestimate the contribution of his team-mates, Richie Porte in particular, the only man in the peloton who looked capable of matching Froome in the high mountains was the young Colombian Nairo Quintana.

 

Quintana won the King of the Mountains Classification and the Young Riders Classification, and at just 23 years of age, his future looks incredibly bright.

 

As good as Froome is, in Quintana we have someone that can realistically mount a serious challenge for Froome’s title at next year’s Tour, with the likes of Alberto Contador (Saxo Tinkoff), Andy Schleck (Radioshack Leopard Trek) and Cadel Evans (BMC) all seemingly going backwards with age.

 

Froome is only 28 years old, so his best is arguably still to come, but with Quintana and the likes of Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp), Teejay van Garderen (BMC) and Roman Kreuziger (Saxo Tinkoff) all showing signs that they can compete at the highest level, Froome may never find winning a Grand Tour this easy again.

 

Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) took third place in this year’s tour, 5’04” behind Froome, with Rodriguez now having finished on the podium in all three Grand Tours. At 34 years of age, his chance to win one may just have passed him by.

 

Despite Kittel’s four stage wins, Peter Sagan (Cannondale) showed enough all round ability to win the Points Classification, even dying his hair and goatee beard green to celebrate his achievement.

 

The twilight finish on the Champs-Elysees was a stunning backdrop to what has been a thoroughly entertaining 100th edition of the Tour de France. The amazing audio-visual light show on the Arc de Triomphe had to be seen to be believed, while the fluorescent sequined yellow jersey adorned by Chris Froome was certainly an unusual idea that perhaps didn’t work out as well as hoped.

 

What a race it’s been, what a celebration it’s going to be tonight, and though we’ve only just crossed the finish line in Paris, I’m already counting down the days to next year.

Sky look vulnerable as race for yellow heats up

Stage 13 is done and dusted and what a Stage it was, in fact what a Tour it’s been so far and we’re only just over half way.

 

Mark Cavendish finally had reason to smile after a tough few days as he beat out Peter Sagan in the sprint finish in Saint Armand Montrond. It was a lot easier a victory than Cavendish would have expected, with the Omega Pharma-Quick Step sprinter part of 14 man late breakaway.

 

The day looked pretty simple on paper. Flat and with a tail wind, a breakaway would form early, the teams of the sprinters would shut it down late, we’d have a bunch finish and the quickest man would win.

 

Things clearly don’t always go to plan.

 

The race for the General Classification, expected to be unchanged after this stage, had the biggest twist, with the top two riders suffering time losses. Alejandro Valverde, who started the day in second position, was the worst affected, a puncture at precisely the wrong moment – no team cars behind the peloton to assist him in pacing back – saw the Spaniard lose almost ten minutes and tumble out of the top 10.

 

Even more interesting though were the fortunes of the man in yellow, Chris Froome. Froome lost one of his best allies when team-mate Edvald Boasson Hagen was unable to start the race this morning after fracturing his shoulder blade in the crash yesterday, and after having already been isolated once this Tour, his rivals sensed weakness.

 

Nobody, however, would have expected today’s stage for an attempt to exploit that weakness. Alberto Contador and his Saxo Tinkoff team-mates had other ideas. With 30 kilometres remaining on the stage, the boys in dark blue noticed Froome sitting a little too deep in the peloton. With the high winds, they sensed if they could create a break, they’d be able to stay away, so six Saxo Tinkoff riders took off – their plan working perfectly.

 

The move proved to be decisive, with Froome finishing a minute behind the group that not only included Contador and his team-mate Roman Kreuziger but also the Belkin pair of Bauke Mollema and Laurens Ten Dam, all right up there in the General Classifcation.

 

Contador might not have looked as dangerous in the mountains so far, but clearly he still knows how to ride a 3 week race and the fact that Sky was caught out yet again will have all those who wish to take the yellow of Froome’s back very interested.

 

Last year Bradley Wiggins had a team around him that was invincible, it’s fair to say Froome’s squad looks anything but that right now, and his body language as he collected the yellow jersey at the after stage presentation suggests he is concerned.

 

Cavendish, alert enough to get himself in the break, got the second stage win he craved after a few tough days, but with the race for green seemingly over, the real interest is in the race for overall honours. The mountains are going to test Froome and Sky, I for one can’t wait to see how they fare, bring on Mont Ventoux on Sunday.

Porte claims stage 5 and control of Paris-Nice

Australian cycling’s purple patch continued as Richie Porte of Sky Procycling produced a sensational ride to claim the summit finish atop La Montagne de Lure on Stage 5 of Paris-Nice.

 

Starting the day 7 seconds behind overall leader Andrew Talansky of Garmin-Sharp, Porte was determined to match the young American as they rode the 14 kilometres of the category 1 climb, but Porte went one better, riding away from him with just over a kilometre left and catapulting himself into the yellow jersey.

 

Talansky had made sure that Porte knew he was in a battle, attacking him several times on the final climb, but when Porte asked the question, Talansky had no answers and finished 33 seconds adrift. It was a bold ride by Talansky, who had declared himself ‘ready’ for this stage, but Porte’s guile and experience proved too much.

 

Dennis Menchov of Katusha claimed second spot after he was passed by a flying Porte in the final 500 metres just as it looked as if his attack may have proved successful.

 

Porte now has a 32 second advantage in the General Classification over Talansky, with Lieuwe Westra of Vacansoleil-DCM a further 10 seconds back.

 

The final stage is a time-trial and given his proficiency at in the individual discipline, if Porte can match his rivals on tomorrows penultimate stage which includes category 1 climbs up Côte de Cabris and the Col du Ferrier, Richie Porte will win Paris-Nice in 2013.

 

Earlier on the stage, Radioshack-Leopard Trek’s Jens Voigt gave his legion of fans a reason to cheer as he joined in a four man breakway, before riding away from his companions at the start of the final climb.

 

Although always likely to fail, there is no reasoning with Voigt when he’s in one of his moods, and the grimaced face of the German was in lead for most of the climb.

 

Talansky retains his white jersey as leader of the Mountains Classification and his third place on the stage was enough to propel him into the green jersey as leader in the Points Classification.

 

With a mountainous stage tomorrow, it looks likely that the green jersey will go to one of the climbers, with Sylvain Chavanel of Omega Pharma-Quick Step 11 points behind Talansky and Westra just 16 back.

 

Johann Tschopp of IAM Cycling remains in the polka dot jersey as leader of the Mountains Classification.

 

Tomorrow’s stage from Manosque to Nice is a difficult one, 220kms long and five categorised climbs, two of which are category 1. The finish is 70 kilometres from the summit of the final climb, so if one of Porte’s rivals wants to steal the yellow jersey of his back, it’s going to have to be a bold attack.