Sunday, April 30, 2017

BMC Racing Team's Rohan Dennis and Cadel Evans avoided injury in a crash in the finishing straight Friday to keep their places in the top two spots on the overall classification at the Santos Tour Down Under.

Neither rider went down in the pile-up that happened fewer than 300 meters from the finish of the 144.5-kilometer stage that was won by Australian national criterium champion Steele Von Hoff (UniSA-Australia). BMC Racing Team's Michael Schär, who was escorting Evans, said the downhill sprint made for a more dangerous situation.

"The speed was very, very fast in the peloton – I think we were going over 60 or 70 kilometers an hour," the past Swiss national road champion said. "Some guys just took too many risks and they went down. I was right behind Cadel and we were sprinting full gas and just hoping we wouldn't go down. Luckily, we stayed upright and everything was fine."

With two days of the race to go, Dennis leads Evans by seven seconds. Tom Dumoulin (Team Giant-Alpecin) is third at nine seconds, while Daryl Impey (ORICA-GreenEDGE) finished runner-up to Von Hoff and earned a total of nine bonus seconds on the day to move from 10th to fourth, 13 seconds back.

Dennis said his first day in the ochre leader's jersey was a smooth one, thanks to the help of his five teammates.

"It was a hectic day, a bit stressful," he said. "But the team was great. They really rode well together and kept me out of trouble whenever it was stressful. They protected me perfectly."

Saturday's penultimate stage finishes atop Old Willunga Hill. The stage was pivotal in last year's race in which Evans lost the overall lead by a single second to eventual winner Simon Gerrans (ORICA-GreenEDGE) while Richie Porte (Team Sky) took the stage win. Porte sits in fifth overall, 15 seconds back of Dennis.

"Our goal is to get both Cadel and me on the podium as one and two," Dennis said. "There is no definite leader. What we want to do is strive to be one and two at the finish and try to pull off the team classification. The one thing in cycling is that you have to risk everything to win everything. It is risky, but it is definitely possible – with Cadel's form, with my form and with the team we have."

The BMC Racing Team remains the leader in the Virgin Australia team standings while Dennis also holds the lead in the Cycle Instead "young rider" competition.

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