Tour Down Under Results - Stage 4
Cooke takes stage; Sacchi leads overall
Victorian Baden COOKE, 24, (FDJeux.com) led the field home in today's fourth stage of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under narrowly beating Sydney's Graeme BROWN, 24, (Ceramiche Panaria - Fiordo) and South Australian Stuart O'GRADY (Credit Agricole) in a furious sprint to the line.
COOKE, who was awarded the Stage One win after BROWN was relegated to last place when officials ruled he did not hold his line and impeded the sprint of Robbie McEWEN (AUS - Lotto Domo), this time made sure he was first over the line and a clear winner.
"It's the second win of the year with a bit of controversy surrounding the first one," said COOKE., "Today I saw Ashley HUTCHINSON (AUS - United Water) take the inside run (in the final metres) which was the shortest way round but after seeing what Brownie did on Tuesday I decided to go the long way around because otherwise I'm sure he would have stepped into me."
COOKE told media after the stage that the 40 degree plus heat had been draining for everyone.
"I think I drank 12 bidons (bottles of water) today and was even forcing it down just to keep my fluids up," said COOKE.
"85,000 fans braved the scorching heat and some even sprayed the grateful riders with garden hoses as they passed by," said Belinda DEWHIRST, General Manager, Australian Major Events.
But while COOKE claimed the honours on the line it was 21 year old South Australian Adrian LAIDLER (UniSA) who was then hero of the day.
The race set off from the Adelaide suburb of Unley which was still celebrating after last night's fabulous Street Party where an estimated 15,000 people enjoyed food, wine and dancing in the street.
"Unley was absolutely a-buzz this morning," said Ms DEWHIRST. "Fans enjoyed breakfast and the unique opportunity to grab autographs from and chat with their heroes."
The festive atmosphere was still in force as the 90 riders headed out under race neutral conditions.
The race proper began at the Old Toll Gate and Glen Osmond and almost immediately LAIDLER, the recently crowned Australian U/23 road time trial champion, launched a solo attack off the front.
LAIDLER, who began the day ranked last on the overall standings after sacrificing his rear wheel for team mate Patrick JONKER, and being forced to chase the field home, established an impressive leading margin as the main bunch let him go.
"I sort of regretted it the minute I got away but once you're out there you have to do it," said LAIDLER who at one stage was more than ten minutes clear of the race.
He cleaned up the maximum points at the Echunga sprint (26km ) and again in Langhorne Creek ( 64.8km) where McEWEN led the field across for second place which gave him the lead in the SA Lotteries Sprint Classification plus a two second time bonus that moved him closer to SACCHI in the battle for the overall win.
After more than 100 kilometres on his own setting a driving pace in front LAIDLER began