Posted by Editoress on 01/20/12
Stage 3: Greipel gallops to victory
The Santos Tour Down Under thundered into Victor Harbor today with German sprint sensation Andre Greipel leading home a bunch gallop to win the third stage and reclaim the overall lead.
The Lotto-Belisol rider, who won both the curtain raiser Down Under Classic race on Sunday night and the first stage of the Tour into Clare on Tuesday, was just too fast for his rivals edging out FDJ - BigMat rider Yauheni Hutarovich (BLR) by half a wheel with Norwegian Evald Boasson Hagen (Sky) third across the line.
"This victory is for Jurgen Roelandts who unfortunately supports us from the hospital," said Greipel of his team mate who was injured in the crash at the end of the stage into Clare. "We're nearly three riders down but the rest of the team that is not injured has been awesome today.
The win puts Greipel back into the ochre leader's jersey with an eight second margin over Swiss rider Martin Kohler (BMC). Australian Michael Matthews (Rabobank) finished with the bunch and remains in third place overall at 12 seconds.
"I'm happy to get back into the lead but the time bonus (10 seconds for the stage win) I got again isn't important in my mind," said Greipel who has twice won overall honours but concedes he is unlikely to win a third. " The Willunga stage (Saturday) is too hard for me to win GC this year. With two stage wins, we've already reached our goal. We can't have everything and we just take it day by day."
The stage today departed from the cosmopolitan shopping hub of Unley for a 134.5km route that took in the breath taking countryside of both the McLaren Vale and the picturesque coastal scenes of the Fleurieu Peninsula.
A group of three went down the road in the first five kilometres made up of Russian Eduard Vorganov (Katusha) and Belgians Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek) and Thomas De Gendt (Vaconsoleil-DCM). They were soon joined by Ireland's Matthew Brammeier (Omega Pharma - Quickstep).
De Gendt was the only rider in the quartet already on the board in the SKODA King of the Mountain competition so, not surprisingly, he hit out up Sellicks Hill Category 2 climb to claim the maximum ten points ahead of Brammeier, Bakelants and Vorganov. That puts De Gendt in the polka dot jersey with a two point lead over yesterday's stage winner Tasmanian Will Clarke (UniSA-Australia).
The break stretched to a lead of around five minutes but the peloton, after failing to catch Clarke yesterday, judged today's chase to perfection.
The two Jayco intermediate sprints were hotly contested by the top three placed riders with a maximum of six bonus seconds up for grabs and all within 12 seconds of the race lead. De Gendt proved the swiftest of the trio battling for the points and won the dash for the line at both Mt Compass (65km) and Goolwa (89.4km). By then the margin had shrunk to less than two minutes.
"Three of the four riders (in the break) had the same goal and that was to take the second sprint and then after that we just wanted to go back to the peloton," said De Gendt.
After the sprint at Goolwa Brammeier tried a solo attack off the front as the peloton reeled in his there fellow escapees and although he held on for a few more kilometres it wasn't too be his day for victory. Ten kilometres from home the pace was frenetic as the sprinter's jostled for position.
"It was our intention to keep the breakaway in sight with a good gap. The crosswinds have made the race faster. The one kilometre to go mark was the most important point of today's stage," said Greipel. "I told my team-mates 'I need to be in fifth or sixth position at that point'.They did a great job to put me there and I finished it off."
De Gendt's efforts along the road moved him up to fourth overall, 14 seconds off Greipel's lead.
"The legs are not so good but I will try to attack. I think tomorrow is the best for me just to stay in the peloton and then Old Willunga Hill is going to be so hard but I am going to try and be in the front."
Matthews still leads the Cycle Intead Best Young Rider under 26 classification but was a little disapointed with today's finish.
"The boys had a really good lead out for me and I just couldn't really hold the wheel in the last couple of kilometres," said Matthews. "It just got a bit messy and Mark Renshaw [Rabobank team mate] held the lead out but I just wasn't there to finish it."
Tomorrow's BUPA Stage 4 travels 130km from Norwood in Adelaide's eastern suburb's to Tanunda in the Barossa wine growing region. Stage 4 also hosts the Bupa Challenge Tour with more than seven thousand cycling enthusiasts hopping on their bikes to ride the race route. Joining them on the family friendly Tanunda loop will be cycling legend, Eddy Merckx.
Stage 3 Jersey Summary
• Stage Winner - Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) (GER)
• Santos Tour Down Under Leader - Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) (GER)
• Jayco Sprint Leader - Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) (GER)
• SKODA King of the Mountain Leader - Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) (BEL)
• Cycle Instead Best Young Rider - Michael Matthews (Rabobank) (AUS)
• Brilliant Blend Team Leader - UniSA-Australia
• Hindmarsh Most Aggressive Rider for stage 2 - Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) (BEL)
Full Stage 3 results
Stage 4: Freire flashes home in Tanunda
Three time road race world champion, Oscar Freire, has won the Bupa Stage 4 of the Santos Tour Down Under in a frenetic sprint into Tanunda, in South Australia's Barossa wine growing region.
The 35 year old Spaniard led home a break of 50 riders who went clear on the final climb of the day leaving overnight leader Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) almost eight minutes behind.
"It was a difficult finale," said Freire. "I knew I had a really good chance to win. The race was hard (so) it was better for me.
"I'm happy to score the team's first victory of the year after joining Katusha," said Freire who is in his first race for the Russian outfit.
The Santos Tour Down Under ochre leader's jersey meantime is back on the shoulders of Swiss rider Martin Kohler (BMC) who finished with the lead group of 49 on today's stage and is a mere two seconds ahead of both Australian Michael Matthews (Rabobank) and Freire who are in second and third place overall respectively.
"I didn't expect to be back in the lead but we dropped Andre Greipel on the climb and then we were riding hard to make the gap bigger," said Kohler. "Tomorrow there will be ten or fifteen riders contesting the win at the top of Willunga Hill. It's going to be very hard and I don't know if I can keep this lead or not but I'm already happy with what I'm doing here.
"Our team BMC feels at home with all the support we get but of course we are the team of Cadel Evans," said Kohler noting the popularity of his Tour de France winning Australian team mate.
Canberra's Matthews was a little disappointed to not be in ochre but was looking on the bright side.
"The jersey I want is ochre and I'll try to get it tomorrow," said Matthews. "It's unfortunate that I missed it today by only two seconds. (But) not having the jersey today takes a lot of pressure off you but it's also better to be ahead of everyone else."
The 130km stage began in the suburb of Norwood and headed into the Adelaide Hills before travelling through the vineyards. A few riders tried to go clear early but the sprinters weren't having any of that because the first of today's two Jayco intermediate sprints was only 25 kilometres down the road at Kersbrook and bonus seconds were up for grabs. Greipel went hard at the line and nabbed the maximum three seconds with Matthews close behind to shave two seconds off his time.
After the sprint the pace settled and a small break went clear. Australian Jay McCarthy (UniSA-Australia) was in the quartet in front and collected the maximum points on offer at the first SKODA King of the Mountain for the day, a category two climb at Smith Hill (30km). Spaniard Ruben Perez Moreno (Euskaltel-Euskadi) was second over the summit with Frenchman Blel Kadri (AG2R la Mondiale) third and Gatis Smukulis (Katusha) fourth.
Smukulis dropped back to the bunch soon after the climb but the remaining three rode on to contest the second Jayco sprint at Mt Pleasant (51km). This time Perez Moreno claimed the points ahead of Kadri and McCarthy. The lead margin hovered around the two minute mark for the next thirty kilometrees or so but as they approached the Menglers Hill category one climb (107km) they were caught by the bunch.
The capture of the trio triggered a pace increase and up Menglers the hill the tempo split the bunch with a more than a third of the peloton powering clear.
Amongst them was Freire who sailed home to win by a bike length from of Gerald Ciolek (Omega Pharma - Quickstep) (GER) who just edged out Italian Daniele Bennati (RadioShack-Nissan) for second on the line.
The Jayco Points classification is now being led by Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) who collected 12 ponts today for fourth place and sits on 36 points, one ahead of Greipel.
"I just try every day to move up on overall GC. It's nice to have the sprint jersey," said Boasson Hagen. "I didn't expect it but that's not the one I'm looking for, I want to win the jersey of the overall classification.
"My team mate [Geraint] Thomas gave me a great lead out but I came off his wheel a bit too early. The battle is still very open."
The SKODA King of the Mountain leader is now newly crowned Australian under 23 road race and time trial champion, Rohan Dennis, (UniSA-Australia) who was first over Menglers today to take his tally to 17 points, five clear of Belgian Thomas De Gendt (Vaconsoleil-DCM).
"I didn't think that I would lead the King of the Mountain because I only had one point from my breakaway on day one," said Dennis. "Tomorrow at the bottom of Willunga it will be all or nothing."
Kadri was named the Hindmarsh Most Agressive rider of the stage. Sky Pro Cycling is the Brilliant Blend leading team.
The Santos Tour Down Under continues tomorrow with the 'Queen' stage. Jayco stage 5 marks the first time the race has finished at the top of a climb with the 151.5km route starting in McLaren Vale and ending atop Old Willunga Hill which the riders will climb twice.
Stage 4 Jersey Summary
• Stage Winner - Oscar Freire (Katusha) (ESP)
• Santos Tour Down Under Leader - Martin Kohler (BMC) (SUI)
• Jayco Sprint Leader - Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky ) (NOR)
• SKODA King of the Mountain Leader - Rohan Dennis (UniSA-Australia) (AUS)
• Cycle Instead Best Young Rider - Michael Matthews (Rabobank) (AUS)
• Brilliant Blend Team Leader - Sky Pro Cycling
• Hindmarsh Most Aggressive Rider for stage 4- Blel Kadri (AG2R la Mondiale) (FRA)
Full Stage 4 results
Courtesy Tour Down Under
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