January 23th, 2015 (Adelaide, Australia) —Wouter Wippert sailed to third today in a dramatic sprint finish atop Mt. Baker. With a long relatively flat finishing straight, Wippert was the first to jump but Steele von Hoff came around to take the victory ahead of Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) and Wippert. Immediately behind the leaders, a major crash occurred. Drapac's Travis Meyer was one of the riders that went down, fracturing his hand.
“I am happy for third today. The boys were looking after me all day. They moved me up on the flat parts so we could drop a few positions on the hills and protected me. Travis brought me to the last corner and Graeme then delivered me perfectly. I knew with the slight downhill at the finish and the tailwind, my top speed would be high,” Wippert said, who was also third at last Sunday's People Choice Classic.
The race started in Glenelg to a large, enthusiastic crowd. William Clarke launched early in the race, as he did in yesterday’s stage, but was quickly reeled in as BMC was covering the front of the race closely.
At 23km, an attack stuck with Michael Hepburn (Orica-GreenEdge) Peter Kennaugh (Sky), Cedric Pineau (FDJ) and former race leader Jack Bobridge (UniSA) getting clear of the field. The gap went out to 2:25 but was reeled back just before the intermediate sprint. Another three riders got off the front after the sprint and built a gap of 2:00 but were caught at 9km to go. Then the sprint teams filed to the front.
“I was on the edge along the barrier, Graeme was guiding and I followed. We had great positioning and he got me where I needed to be. I am pleased with the place and know I can do better,” Wippert said. “Again, we have a good team and today we showed it.”
Being the first major race for the 2015 squad, the result shows a good starting point for the Drapac sprint train.
“I really wanted full commitment from everyone and we got it today. The boys came together well and it showed. The result is good and hopefully we can move up a few spots on Sunday,” Tom Southam, Sports Director, said.
A major pile up occurred at 200 meters to go and Drapac’s highest place GC rider, Travis Meyer went down. Meyer was taken to hospital for x-ray and was later confirmed to have fractured his hand and has withdrawn from the race.
“It is a blow for us to lose Travis today,” Southam said. “He has performed well all week and today was vital in the sprint for us.”
“I thought I was getting through and then I realized I wasn’t and all I saw was barriers. I thought to myself, ‘I am going to go down hard’. It could have been a lot worse,” Meyer said.
Meyer is meeting with the doctors tonight to determine exact healing time.
“It was nice to see Wouter get third today and I would have liked to have helped him on Sunday. To not be there is a bit disappointing,” Meyer added.