Ritchie Porte won the 5th stage of the 2014 Tour Down Under today, while Simon Gerrans set himself up to become the first three-time winner of the race – after an exciting day of competition.
Today’s Queen stage began in McLaren Vale, and criss-crossed the region’s vineyards as it swept along the Fleurieu Peninsula before turning to contest the two ascents of Willunga Hill – with a summit finish. The race attracted more than 125,000 thousand fans who set up camp along the entire 151 kilometer route.
Cadel Evans began today’s stage with a seven second lead over Gerrans. However, by the end of the race, Gerrans had reeled the overall lead back in with a third place time bonus at the finish line – that ultimately reversed his deficit and gave him a one second lead over Evans.
"All the way up the climb, I always knew what I had to do," said Gerrans who was protected all day and kept out of the wind by his team mates so he could be fresh for the final showdown. "I needed to save energy for the very last part.
"Earlier on, we had Matt Goss at the front, then Daryl (Impey) and Simon (Clarke) looked after me. It’s a dream result to get the jersey back," he explained. "I’ve got a fantastic team here, we’ve seen it today, and they’ve been great all week."
Gerrans claimed the lead on the same stage in 2012 and went onto win the Tour for the second time, the first win coming in 2006.
"It’s only by one second though, actually it’s one second more than two years ago (against Alejandro Valverde) but it’s still going to be tight and nervous tomorrow," said Gerrans who is hoping to have a third Santos Tour Down Under crown in his possession at the end of tomorrow’s final day of racing. "I’m very pleased to be back in the lead."
The big winner of the day, however, was Porte – who began today’s race in tenth position – 33 seconds down from the lead. But, his performance today moved him up into fourth place in the overall classification – at just ten seconds behind Gerrans.
The Tasmanian rider proceeded to ride away from his rivals during the final stretch of today’s three kilometer climb to the finish.
"This result is more than I hoped for," said Porte who was ten seconds in front when he crossed the line. "It was a very stressful day with crosswinds but I had my team doing incredible work for me.
"Ian Stannard, Bernhard Eisel, Luke Rowe, the Classics’ guys… I just had to sit in their back pocket all day. I panicked a little bit and Stannard said he’d drop me at the right place."
Once Stannard delivered Porte into position he attacked – riding clear in the last 1500 meters of the Willunga Climb to clinch the win the stage.
"I wasn’t exactly surprised to drop Cadel Evans off, I was disappointed the other day after the Corkscrew Climb (Thursday) (because) I started badly positioned."
"Not taking anything away from Cadel, I could have played a little bit better.
Winning here means everything for me. Sky is such a great team. It’s a great way to repay them for the belief they have in me."
At the end of today’s race, BMC Racing Team Manager, Allan Peiper said that it will take something special to overtake Gerrans now.
"No, it’s not over, but if you got to come from behind, it’s a little bit difficult in a criterium," said Peiper. "We will discuss our options tonight to see what we come up with."
Today’s stage began with Jens Voigt initiating an early attack, along with Mikhail Ignatyev, Juan Jose Lobato and Matteo Trentin.
The quartet built up a substantial lead – as they raced the first of three laps along the shores of Aldinga Beach and Snapper Point. In fact, at one point, their lead grew to more than nine minutes over the peloton.
At the 63 kilometer mark, the four leaders contested the first of the two sprints at Snapper Point – with Ignatyev taking the top points ahead of Trentin and Voigt.
Back in the peloton Orica-GreenEDGE had been joined by Team SKY on the front and the pace lifted as they started the chase down the breakaways.
"When the break went away, I spoke with Mathew Hayman (Orica-GreenEDGE), and I said we want to go for the stage win, and you guys want the GC, so we each put a guy on the front to bring the gap down," said Porte’s team mate Gerraint Thomas. "It was all about keeping Richie (Porte) out of the wind and out of trouble.
"I saw his attack. It was good to see him dancing away, and you could see that Cadel (Evans) was struggling a little bit. It was every man for himself."
The double team strength chase saw the gap to the leaders at the half way mark down to under four minutes.
The second sprint at Snapper Point also went to Ignatyev – just ahead of Lobato and Voigt. However, Lobato subsequently dropped back to the peloton, while the remaining three rode on with Voigt claiming the maximum Skoda King of the Mountain points over the Willunga climb.
In the meantime, KOM leader, Adam Hansen, rode across for fifth place points – to secure the green and white polka dot jersey. However, he’s tied on points with Frenchman Axel Domont who was just ahead of him.
"It’s really good to be the king of the mountains here," said Hansen who also jumped up into the top ten and now sits eighth overall. "I’m a bit surprised that I made it.
"It wasn’t my priority but I decided to go for it the first time up Willunga Hill. Jurgen Roelandts led me out but I didn’t want to go full gas against the AG2R rider (Axel Domont) who was sprinting for KOM points as well. "It’s very nice to get the jersey."
Meanwhile in front, Voigt attacked again in the final ten kilometers in a desperate bid to steal a win. However, Voigt was later reeled in at the foot of the final climb.
But, the 42 year old German rider, did earn Europcar’s ‘Most Competitive Rider award’.
"When we got caught after breaking away attacked again, but what else should I do? Just disappear?" Voigt asked. "I didn’t have to work for a leader or anything and I wasn’t gonna win the stage against the favourites, so I thought I’d better do it in style, put on a show, entertain the people.
"But actually, it could have worked as well, had those guys laughed and said ‘oh!, this is just Jens, he’s an old man with number 42 on his back, like his age, let him go’. And then, with a good lead, I wouldn’t have been caught again."
Gerrans also leads the Sprint Classification by 19 points over Ulissi.
The holder of the "Best Young Rider’ classification, 20-year old Jack Haig, finished 20th on the stage and remains 1:19 ahead of Spaniard Carlos Verona – his nearest rival for the honor.
"I saw him at the end of the climb the first time, after which I was left with no team-mate while he had his whole team with him.," said Haig. "So I was just hanging on to the wheels. I pushed myself so hard. It scared me racing in the wind like this.
"In the final climb, I was pretty tired," said Haig. "I had to go really deep but I just marked Carlos all the way up."
In the ‘Teams Classification’ – Orica-GreenEDGE has also moved into the lead over BMC Racing Team.
Top 25 Finishers
1 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky 3:42:20 2 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:00:10 3 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica Greenedge 4 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team 0:00:14 5 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica Greenedge 6 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 7 Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin Sharp 0:00:17 8 Egor Silin (Rus) Team Katusha 9 Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol 10 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:21 11 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:24 12 Rory Sutherland (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:30 13 Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Movistar Team 14 Jan Bakelants (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:00:43 15 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Team Katusha 0:00:52 16 Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:00:53 17 Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 18 Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 19 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 20 Jack Haig (Aus) Uni-SA Australia 21 Javier Moreno Bazan (Spa) Movistar Team 22 Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling 23 Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling 24 Robbie Hucker (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling 0:01:00
General Classification After Stage 5
1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica Greenedge 18:02:19 2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:01 3 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:00:05 4 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky 0:00:10 5 Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin Sharp 0:00:27 6 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team 0:00:30 7 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica Greenedge 0:00:34 8 Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol 0:00:37 9 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 10 Egor Silin (Rus) Team Katusha 11 Rory Sutherland (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:50 12 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:01:13 13 Jan Bakelants (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:01:31 14 Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:35 15 Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:54 16 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Team Katusha 0:01:57 17 Jack Haig (Aus) Uni-SA Australia 0:01:58 18 Robbie Hucker (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling 0:02:05 19 Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling 0:02:32 20 Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ.fr 0:02:38 21 Stig Broeckx (Bel) Lotto Belisol 0:02:41 22 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:02:44 23 Laurent Didier (Lux) Trek Factory Racing 24 Cameron Wurf (Aus) Cannondale 0:02:49 25 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 0:02:50 Stig Broeckx (Bel) Lotto Belisol 0:01:02
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