Andre Greipel won the 6th and final stage of the 2014 Tour Down Under in Adelaide City, while Simon Gerrans won the overall title.
I’ve got my third Tour Down Under win thanks to an outstanding team," said Gerrans. "This is an Australian team, on Australia Day, in a WorldTour event, what else could I ask for?"
Gerrans made his intentions clear after winning stage 1 of this year’s race, that he wanted to go for a third Tour win.
"It’s been a hard race for me and my team-mates," said Gerrans who lost the lead to Evans who won Thursday’s Thomas Foods Stage 3 into Stirling. "It’s been difficult to get the Ochre jersey back, what a tough week!
"I had the experience from two years ago of defending the lead with a very small margin (same time as Alejandro Valverde)," he explained. "I was confident in my team-mates to take me home safely, which they did today. Until I crossed the line, I suspected that Diego Ulissi would try and do something, but it went all right."
The victory puts Gerrans, on 114 points, in the lead on the individual WorldTour rankings ahead of Evans on 88 points with Ulissi third on 83 points.
Orica-GreenEDGE team director, Matthew White, says the Santos Tour Down Under is a special win for the team.
"It’s the only WorldTour race on home soil so to come away with the win, and the team classification, it’s a brilliant way to start the season," said White. "It’s only the start of the season. We have a lot of big goals coming up."
Today’s stage took place in Adelaide City, with a circuit race partaking of 18 laps over 4.7 kilometer circuit around Rymill Park and Victoria Square. As many as a quarter of a million fans lined the streets.
As expected, a series of breakaway attempts occurred early in the race, with Team Europcar’s Angelo Tulik trying to ride clear – but ended up crashing in a corner with Russian rider Maxim Belkov.
However, Belkov managed to remount, and join William Clarke and Julien Bérard to form a trio that would build up a lead of more than a minute over the main field.
Clarke was later beset with a punctured midway through the sixth lap – causing him to miss out on the first intermediate sprint points of the day. Rather, it was Bérard who snatched them ahead of Belkov – with Clarke struggling to regain contact with them – as the peloton began closing in at 1:47 behind.
The second intermediate sprint came at the end of the twelfth lap – 30 kilometers from the finish, and this time it was Belkov who picked up the top points ahead of Bérard and Clarke. By now, their gap was dwindling – with the peloton closing in at just 1:21 behind.
By lap 14, several teams started to close down on the trio – with big name riders like Lotto-Belisol’s Greipel and Giant-Shimano’s Marcel Kittel coming to the fore.
At one point, Greipel found himself perfectly positioned. However, that was not the case for Kittel – who became detached from his teammates and lost in the traffic of the peloton.
"I am not sure what happened. I could not find Marcel Kittel in the end," said his team mate Koen de Kort who was fourth on the line. "He was on my wheel, it was a very hectic course, tight corners, long straights. Somewhere in the last lap, Marcel must have lost my wheel.
"I told me teammates to go find him, while I stayed in the front (but) he never got there. At about 600m to go, I heard through the radio, Koen, just sprint yourself.
"I don’t sprint enough. I choose the wrong side of the wheel, then I had to restart again. I came through fourth. I don’t have the experience in sprinting these days. I don’t tend to do that anymore."
After leading out Greipel in the final laps, Jurgen Roelandts dropped off from his teammate, while the Omega Pharma-Quick Step duo of Andrew Fenn and Mark Renshaw tried to catch the German champion. Fenn said after the race that the high pace in the final laps proved too much for him to take the win.
"It was full-gas to the finish line. We wanted Renshaw to go early to try to jump Greipel, but he was blocked in by the fence. I tried to go, from the left, but against the wind and against those guys, I just didn’t have the legs," Fenn said.
Top 25 Finishers
1 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol 1:55:16 2 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 3 Andrew Fenn (GBr) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 4 Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano 5 Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling 6 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica Greenedge 7 Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin Sharp 8 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol 9 Michal Kolár (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo 10 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica Greenedge 11 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica Greenedge 12 Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Astana Pro Team 13 Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale 14 Steele Von Hoff (Aus) Garmin Sharp 15 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Uni-SA Australia 16 Kévin Reza (Fra) Team Europcar 17 Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) FDJ.fr 18 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing 19 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica Greenedge 20 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 21 Nicki Sörensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo 22 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team 23 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 24 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 25 Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky
Final general classification
1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica Greenedge 19:57:35 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 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:37 9 Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol 10 Egor Silin (Rus) Team Katusha 0:00:47 11 Rory Sutherland (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:01:00 12 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:01:13 13 Jan Bakelants (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:01:41 14 Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:45 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 0:02:08 18 Robbie Hucker (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling 0:02:15 19 Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ.fr 0:02:38 20 Cameron Wurf (Aus) Cannondale 0:02:49 21 Stig Broeckx (Bel) Lotto Belisol 0:02:51 22 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:02:54 23 Laurent Didier (Lux) Trek Factory Racing 24 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 0:03:00 25 Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:03:17
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