Greipel Powers to Stage 4 Victory in Tour Down Under 2014
Though having to wait longer than he had hoped, André Greipel today succeeded at adding a 15th stage win to his Santos Tour Down Under victory count when he won stage 4 of this year's race in Victor Harbor; General Classification and former World Champion Cadel Evans of Team BMC Racing was put under pressure but managed to remain in light.
Evans went into the stage with a 12 second lead over fellow Australian and rival Simon Gerrans but at the end of the day that had been whittled down to seven seconds due to a concerted assault by the GreenEdge team.
Precious seconds were on offer early in today's stage that departed from the cosmopolitan Adelaide suburb of Unley and headed out through the Adelaide Hills to the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula for a 149 kilometre stage with 115 thousand fans treated to some sensational racing action.
The first Adam Internet intemediate sprint was contested at Echunga, 25km into the stage which meant the pace was on from the start with the contenders anxious to claw back time on Evans.
Gerrans was set up superbly by his team mates and claimed the maximum three seconds to close his deficit on Evans to nine seconds. His GreenEdge team mate, Matt Goss, was second ahead of Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp) who claimed a one second bonus.
"Today it went pretty well with the time bonus I was after," said Gerrans. "Our plan was to chase the first breakaway if it was within reach before the first intermediate sprint, and if not, we’d target the second.
"We eventually managed to do both," said Gerrans. I’m pretty happy with that."
After the furore of the early pace Frenchman Axel Domant (AG2R - La Mondiale) and Australian Cameron Wurf (Cannondale) eventually rode clear and at one stage were more than four minutes ahead of the peloton.
The only Skoda King of the Mountain climb of the day was at at the 96 kilometre mark at Myponga where Domant took ten points ahead of Wurf. Not long after Australian Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) led the chasing group across to add four points to his tally and hold onto the green polka-dot jersey for another day.
Crosswinds and an energetic chase split the peloton with around 40 riders, including the main overall contenders, riding into the front group. The fact the second Adam Internet sprint of the day at Yankalilla, 30 kilometres from the finish, was fast approaching also added intensity to the pace with Team GreenEdge hoping Gerrans would score another bonus.
He did, but not the mamimum because Garmin-Sharp steered Haas through to steal the three seconds. Gerrans had to settle for second place and two seconds while Italian Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) grabbed a one second bonus.
Bike trouble struck for Evans just before the sprint but after a bike change, and with assistance from his team mates, he rejoined the leaders.
"It’s been a nervous day with the wind and GreenEdge really took control of the race putting the whole team (on the front) for the intermediate sprints," said Evans. "The first one didn’t go favourably for me and the second one was even worse.
"Looking at the numbers, we have four stages favourable to GreenEdge and two for me, so numbers-wise it’s not in my advantage but of course Willunga will be important," said Evans of tomorrow's Queen stage that ends atop Old Willunga Hill. "Certainly if GreenEdge