Published: Friday, 23 January 2015 06:19
Written by Jamie Naragon
Stage 4 of Santos Tour Down Under looked like a delicacy for the sprinters. The fast men didn’t let that opportunity go and the stage ended in a mass sprint with Steele von Hoff (UniSA-Australia) taking the win, while a crash brought down a large part of the peloton in the final 150 meters.
Tinkoff-Saxo’s Chris Juul-Jensen, an important part of the setup around GC captain Michael Rogers, was involved but escaped without serious injuries allowing him to continue ahead of the all-important stage 5 to Willunga Hill. Lars Michaelsen, leading DS at Tour Down Under, explains:
“The stage went as expected. After some attempts, a breakaway group formed, which was then caught again before the final sprint. A classic sprinters stage you might say. For us it meant that we could save some energy before tomorrow’s stage. However the big pileup within the 150-marker brought down Chris, he hurt his elbow and hand, but he will be able to continue. That’s a part of the game, sometimes these high-speed crashes happen and there’s nothing you can really do”.
All eyes on Willunga Hill
As the sprinter’s teams played cat and mouse with the breakaway, Tinkoff-Saxo focused on protecting team leader Michael Rogers, who had showed great signs on the tough stage 3. Lars Michaelsen tells that “there were a few times during the race, where we had to really concentrate - before some of the small climbs, on the descents and going into the final sprint” - but he reckons that all GC favorites have their eyes fixed on tomorrow’s stage to the, by now, legendary climb Willunga Hill.
“Tomorrow’s stage will decide the race, there’s no secret in that. Of course, surprises can happen, but most likely we’ll see the GC guys, including Michael Rogers, battling it out on the last 3 kilometers on the 7 % climb. I know that Michael is motivated, and the team is ready to support him. Probably the wind and weather will play a factor tomorrow, so we will stay alert and make sure that Michael is delivered at the final climb to finish the work himself”, concludes Lars Michaelsen after today’s stage.
None of the GC riders lost time on the stage as the time was suspended due to the crash in the final meters. Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) was the big mover on the day, improving his GC position from tenth to fourth due to the bonus seconds he picked at the finish line, where he was second. Rohan Dennis (BMC) still leads the race with Michael Rogers in sixth.
Stage 4 Results
AUS 1 VON HOFF, Steele (UniSA-Australia) 3:24:28
RSA 2 IMPEY, Daryl (ORICA GreenEDGE)
NED 3 WIPPERT, Wouter (DRAPAC)
AUS 4 HAUSSLER, Heinrich (IAM CYCLING)
FRA 5 DUMOULIN, Samuel (AG2R LA MONDIALE)
ITA 6 BONIFAZIO, Niccolo (LAMPRE - MERIDA)
GER 7 SELIG, Rudiger (KATUSHA)
BEL 8 MEERSMAN, Gianni (ETIXX - QUICK STEP)
ITA 9 ALAFACI, Eugenio (TREK FACTORY RACING)
NED 10 DE KORT, Koen (GIANT - ALPECIN)
General Classification after Stage 4
AUS 1 DENNIS, Rohan (BMC RACING) 13:41:34
AUS 2 EVANS, Cadel (BMC RACING) + 7
NED 3 DUMOULIN, Tom (GIANT - ALPECIN) + 9
RSA 4 IMPEY, Daryl (ORICA GreenEDGE) + 13
AUS 5 PORTE, Richie (SKY) + 15
AUS 6 HAIG, Jack (UniSA-Australia)
AUS 7 ROGERS, Michael (TINKOFF - SAXO)
ESP 8 FERNANDEZ, Ruben (MOVISTAR)
FRA 9 BOUET, Maxime (ETIXX - QUICK STEP)
ITA 10 POZZOVIVO, Domenico (AG2R LA MONDIALE
Published: Friday, 23 January 2015 06:12
Written by Jamie Naragon
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.