Francesco Ventoso Wins Stage 5 of 2011 Tour Down Under

News & Results

01/22/2011| 0 comments
by AP and Roadcycling.com
Team Movistar's Francesco Ventoso wins stage 5 of the Santos Tour Down Under 2011. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Team Movistar's Francesco Ventoso wins stage 5 of the Santos Tour Down Under 2011. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Francesco Ventoso Wins Stage 5 of 2011 Tour Down Under

Team Movistar's Francesco Ventoso won the fifth of six stages at the Tour Down Under on Saturday as Lance Armstrong finally made a mark on his final bike race outside the United States, taking his turn at the front before finishing 75th.

Team Movistar's Francesco Ventoso won the fifth of six stages at the Tour Down Under on Saturday as Lance Armstrong finally made a mark on his final bike race outside the United States, taking his turn at the front before finishing 75th.

Ventoso won the 82-mile stage from McLaren Vale to Willunga, while Team Garmin-Cervelo's Australian Cameron Meyer, who came in 13th on the stage and on the same time as the winner, retained the 2011 Santos Tour Down Under leader's jersey.

Meyer, of the U.S.-based Garmin-Cervelo team, holds an eight-second lead over compatriot Matthew Goss of U.S. Team HTC-HighRoad ahead of Sunday's 56-mile final stage in downtown Adelaide.

Armstrong strove on Saturday to set up a stage win for his RadioShack teammate Robbie McEwen, who was fourth on general classification after four stages, but McEwen finished 63rd on the stage, 1 minute, 48 seconds behind Ventoso, to drop back to 35th overall.

Armstrong came in on the same time as McEwen and improved to 66th place out of 130 riders on general classification, 5 minutes, 44 seconds off Meyer's overall lead.

But for a while on Saturday, Armstrong showed some of his old style and resilience, joining in a seven-man breakaway shortly after riders crested Old Willunga Hill on the first of two passes over the tour's longest and harshest climb.

The peleton didn't let the breakaway group stay away long on a day of highly tactical racing, but Armstrong's presence at the front of the field thrilled fans who lined the race route in the tens of thousands. Many carried signs and banners urging Armstrong on as he nears the final day of his final international race.

Responding to their encouragement, Armstrong gave them one last show. He said on his arrival in Australia he didn't intend to spend his farewell race sitting among the bunch and after taking a low key role on the first four days of the tour, he stood out Saturday.

Still, he was disappointed. Two of his RadioShack team members - South African Robbie Hunter who was sixth and Belgian Ben Hermans who was ninth - finished in the top 10 in the stage, but the team lost its chance of winning the tour as McEwen faded

"I'm a little disappointed we couldn't keep Robbie up there and go for the win," Armstrong said. "That's the main thing on my mind."

Saturday's stage featured a number of bold attacks amid tactical racing as teams with sprinters still in contention for the overall title sought to deny time bonuses available from intermediate sprints to competing.

Eight riders broke away soon after the start and led by two minutes until the first long haul up Old Willunga when they came back rapidly to the peleton.

The field became increasingly strung out as they ground toward the peak of the tour's steepest hill and several riders, among them sprint stars Tyler Farrar of the United States and Mark Cavendish of Britain, dropped away from the bunch.

Armstrong took the lead on the first descent into the township of

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