photo credits @ Tour Down Under
Australian Simon Gerrans has been crowned Santos Tour Down Under champion for a record fourth time with Orica GreenEdge celebrating double success after Caleb Ewan sprinted home to win the final stage.
“It’s certainly a dream result and we couldn’t have asked for more,” said Gerrans, 35, who also won two individual stages and the iiNet sprint title.
Gerrans was overjoyed to reclaim the crown he also won in 2006, 2012 and 2014. He had a horror run of injury in 2015 but arrived in Adelaide in top form and ready to race.
“We are so lucky to have this race here in Australia,” said Gerrans who claimed his victory in front of 97 thousand fans. “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.”
His young teammate Ewan, 21, reinforced his sprinting credentials and repaid his team’s backing to win today’s stage by more than a bike length 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,” said Ewan.
“It was always going to be hard to come to this race and chase both stages (wins) and overall victory,” said Ewan who, although he also won the opening stage, knew the team’s priority was for Gerrans to win the title. “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 explained. “Luckily my team-mates brought me up to where I wanted to be for sprinting and it all went well.”
Orica GreenEdge team director, Matt White, had nothing but praise for his team.
“It’s been a huge week for our team, to win the overall and book-end with Caleb, this was confirmation for Caleb, he clearly was the fastest rider here all week,” said White. “And for Gerro (Gerrans) to come back, everyone saw how hard he worked. This will set the tone for rest of the year.”
Gerrans ended the 781 kilometer six stage event on a total time of 19h11m33s, nine seconds ahead of fellow Australian Richie Porte (BMC Racing) with Colombian Sergio Luis Henao (Team SKY) third at eleven seconds.
The Subaru King of the Mountain classification was won by Henao who amassed 38 points, ten ahead of Porte with Michael Woods (Cannondale) third on 20 points.
Tinkoff’s Jay McCarthy was fourth overall which gave him the Europcar Young Rider title as the top ranked rider under the age of 25.
“I’m definitely very happy with how it’s gone this week,” said McCarthy who wore the Santos Ochre Leader’s jersey for a day after winning the second stage. “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 love the crowd and the atmosphere here,” said the young Australian who raced on front of a total of 731 thousand fans this week. “I had a lot of my family (from Queensland) here to watch me. Every time I’ve done the Tour Down Under, they’ve come to Adelaide as well.
“To be up on the podium for them and my team has been super exciting,” he said.
Cannondale Pro Cycling, who finished with two riders in the top ten, goes home with the Wilson Parking Winning Team trophy which they won by a narrow nine second margin over Movistar. Etixx Quickstep was third ranked at 1min 12sec.
“Winning the teams classification here is a really good start for Cannondale,” said Simon Clarke who joined the team this year. ”We are on a mission this year to take the team to another level and unity is the key to getting results.
“This classification shows our unity,” he said. “The focus this week was to ride together… and to get to the podium with the whole team.”
Today’s Be Safe Be Seen MAC Stage 6 was no place for the faint hearted with an average speed of 47 kilometers an hour for the 90 kilometer, 20 lap, race on the Adelaide street circuit.
If anyone had expected an easy day in the saddle they were in for a shock as the pace over the first 20 kilometers was relentless.
An attack went on the first lap that saw five riders breakaway and by the end of the first lap they were 30 seconds down the road.
But the quintet included two riders who posed a threat in George Bennett (Lotto NL Jumbo) and Carlos Verona (Etixx QuickStep), both sitting less than 1min20sec off the race lead.
That forced Orica GreenEdge to the front immediately in pursuit of the escapees but it took them close to 20 kilometres to get the job done.
Almost immediately another Lotto NL Jumbo rider, Maarten Tjallingi, launched a counter attack. Joining him soon after was another Dutchman, Thomas De Gendt from Lotto Soudal.
With both sitting more than 20 minutes out of contention they obviously hoped that would be allowed to sneak away but they struggled to increase their lead above 30 seconds.
Tjallingi was first under the arch at the end of lap eight (36km) for the first of two iiNet intermediate sprints. De Gendt was second and twenty seconds later Orica GreenEdge’s Daryl Impey stymied Tinkoff’s efforts to set Jay McCarthy up for the minor points.
Two Subaru King of the Mountain climbs featured in today’s stage but the overnight leader, Henao had no cause for concern as he started the day with an unassailable lead.
The first time up Montefiore Hill, De Gendt crossed the line ahead of Tjallingii, as the pair churned through the kilometres setting an average pace of close to 47 kilometers an hour. Colombian Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling) was third.
The second iiNet sprint was contested at the end of lap twelve (54 km) and De Gendt rode through with Tjallingii on his wheel. Not far behind Frenchman Johan Le Bon (FDJ) was alone in third place.
The peloton was matching the pace of the leaders and holding the break to 30 seconds, nowhere near enough to secure a shot at the stage win.
As the race headed into the final 30 kilometres the margin to the lead pair was down to 18 seconds.
The second Subaru King of the Mountain climb was won by Tjallingii ahead of De Gendt with the bunch led over the line 23 seconds late by Pantano.
Astana launched it’s own pursuit with Laurens De Vreese and Lieuwe Westra which triggered a surge of pace from 38 year old Tjallingii. De Gendt threw in the towel and dropped back to the peloton.
Four laps to go (18km) Tjallingii was joined by Westra while De Vreese returned to the bunch but the peloton wanted a sprint finish and they would not be denied, snaring the breakaway ahead of the final, frenetic lap.
Tjallingii might not have stayed clear to contest the stage but his efforts in front of the race earned him the Alpecin Most Competitive rider of the day award.
“You never know what is going to happen at the end so you can only try to anticipate a bunch sprint,” he said. “I had in mind that the bunch could break up in the last lap and let me alone away for the stage victory and I wanted to see if there was any possibility to win.
“It’s been a great week of racing,” said Tjallingii. “It’s great to begin the season here with a lot of spectators around, South Australians are very supportive of the cyclists.”
Top 20 Finishers
1 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica–GreenEdge 1:55:02
2 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Team Dimension Data
3 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek–Segafredo
4 Adam Blythe (GBr) Tinkoff
5 Alexey Tsatevitch (Rus) Team Katusha
6 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky
7 Marko Kump (Slo) Lampre–Merida
8 Davide Martinelli (Ita) Etixx–Quick-Step
9 Leigh Howard (Aus) IAM Cycling
10 Wouter Wippert (Ned) Cannondale
11 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica–GreenEdge
12 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
13 Steele von Hoff (Aus) UniSA-Australia
14 Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Soudal
15 Juan José Lobato Del Valle (Esp) Team Movistar
16 Floris Gerts (Ned) BMC Racing Team
17 Koen De Kort (Ned) Giant–Alpecin
18 Georg Preidler (Aut) Giant–Alpecin
19 Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ
20 Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale
Final general classification
1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica–GreenEdge 19:11:33
2 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:09
3 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky 0:00:11
4 Jay McCarthy (Aus) Tinkoff 0:00:20
5 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale
6 Ruben Fernandez Andujar (Esp) Team Movistar 0:00:28
7 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
8 Rafael Valls Ferri (Esp) Lotto Soudal 0:00:36
9 Steve Morabito (Sui) FDJ 0:00:49
10 Patrick Bevin (NZl) Cannondale 0:00:50
11 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre–Merida 0:00:52
12 Cameron Meyer (Aus) Team Dimension Data 0:00:56
13 Jesús Herrada (Esp) Team Movistar 0:00:58
14 Chris Hamilton (Aus) UniSA-Australia
15 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Esp) Astana 0:01:02
16 Louis Meintjes (Rsa) Lampre–Merida 0:01:04
17 Egor Silin (Rus) Team Katusha 0:01:11
18 Tiago Machado (Por) Team Katusha
19 George Bennett (NZl) LottoNL–Jumbo 0:01:15
20 Simon Clarke (Aus) Cannondale 0:01:18
Final Classification Winners
1 Santos Tour Down Under Winner – Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge)
2 iiNet Sprint Winner – Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge)
3 Subaru King of the Mountains Winner – Sergio Luis Henao (Team SKY)
4 Europcar Young Rider Winner – Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff)
5 Wilson Parking Winning Team Competition – Cannondale Pro Cycling
6 Tanya Denver Memorial Award (highest placed South Australian) – Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing)
7 Alpecin Most Competitive Rider (Stage 6) – Maarten Tjallingi (Lotto NL Jumbo)
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