Gerrans Wins Tour Down Under 2014; Greipel Wins Final Stage
Simon Gerrans became the first three-time winner of the Tour Down Under, in front of a home crowd in Adelaide on Australia's national day. Gerrans went into the final stage with a lead of just one second over Cadel Evans (Team BMC Racing) and finished with the same narrow margin.
it's a WorldTour race, when we are good here, we know we can be good in Europe."
The Adelaide City circuit for the Be Safe Be Seen, MAC Stage 6 took the riders over 18 laps of a new 4.7 kilometre ciruit around Rymill Park, out through the CBD to Victoria Square and back. Sweeping past some of Adelaide's key landmarks it provided a fitting finale to a week of first class action that attracted 766 thousand fans.
Team GreenEdge sports director, Matthew White, says the Santos Tour Down Under crown is a special win for the team.
"It's the only WorldTour race on home soil so to come away with the win, and the team classification, it's a brilliant way to start the season," said White. "It's only the start of the season. We have a lot of big goals coming up."
The victory puts Gerrans, on 114 points, in the lead on the individual WordlTour rankings ahead of Evans on 88 points with Ulissi third on 83 ponts.
"It’s been a difficult stage for me with the heat (33C), the tension of riding for GC (overall), some dangerous riders in the bunch… It’s normal because we were just a few seconds apart but I managed to remain close to the front with my team," said Ulissi. "Third in the Santos Tour Down Under is a better result than I expected before coming here. I’m delighted"
As expected on the final stage of the Santos Tour Down Under an early break rode clear. Team Europcar's Angelo Tulik had tried an earlier escape but crashed on a corner and ended up back in the bunch. Russian Maxim Belkov (Katusha) crashed over the top of him but jumped back on his bike and continued the attack along with Australia's perennial escapee William Clarke (Drapac). Frenchman Julien Bérard (AG2R La Mondiale), joined them soon after and the trio opened up a lead of more than a minute.
It was bad luck for Clarke when he punctured midway through the sixth lap which meant he missed out on the chance to grab the maximum point s in the first of two Adam Internet intermediate sprints of the day at 28.5 kilometres. Instead it was Bérard who claimed the win ahead of Belkov with Clarke 19 seconds behind as he chased to rejoin the lead. The peloton followed 1:47 later.
The second intermediate sprint came at the end of the twelfth lap, 30 kilometres from the finish and this time it was Belkov who picked up the top points ahead of Bérard and Clarke. By now the gap was closing with the bunch just 1:21 behind. Team GreenEdge rode tempo on the front in control of the bunch.
Trek Factory Racing took over the chase on lap 14 before, as expected, the teams of the big name sprinters came to the fore. The responsibility was that of Lotto-Belisol for Greipel and Giant-Shimano for Marcel Kittel but several other opportunists also had hopes of a final stage win.
Greipel was positioned perfectly but not so Kittel whose