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Having latched onto the back of the IAM train, Wippert held off Haussler to take a breakthrough WorldTour win in the final stage of the Tour Down Under; Dennis avoided the crashes to win the race overall

Photo: Sirotti

BMC RACING TEAM

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BORIS VALLÉE

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CADEL EVANS

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DRAPAC PORSCHE CYCLING

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HEINRICH HAUSSLER

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RICHIE PORTE

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ROHAN DENNIS

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TOUR DOWN UNDER

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WOUTER WIPPERT

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25.01.2015 @ 10:06 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Having come close on two previous occasions, Wouter Wippert (Drapac) got a well-deserved first win at the WorldTour level when he took a convincing victory in the final stage of the Tour Down Under. The Dutchman came off the IAM train to hold off Heinrich Haussler (IAM) and Boris Vallee (Lotto Soudal) while Rohan Dennis (BMC) avoided the many crashes on the fast circuit in Adelaide and won the first WorldTour race overall.

 

In the People’s Choice Classic and stage 4 of the Tour Down Under, Wouter Wippert came close to beating some of the best WorldTour sprinters when he finished third on both occasions. Having achieved podium results, he made it clear that the next logical step for him would be to try to take a maiden WorldTour win before the end of the week.

 

Today the Dutchman proved himself to be one of the fastest sprinters in the world when he won the fast, flat criterium in Adelaide that traditionalle ends the first WorldTour race of the year. In a crash-marred finale that saw a big part of the peloton being tailed off due a big tumble, he maneuvered smartly in the hectic and uncontrollable finale to pass the line in first position.

 

Going into the final kilometre, it was Orica-GreenEDGE in full control of the peloton as the Australian team was trying to set up Daryl Impey for a sprint win and important bonus seconds that would see him move up in the overall standings. Luke Durbridge led the charge but when the Australians were challenged by Lampre-Merida in the final corner, Mathew Hayman did a great job to move up and make sure that the team stayed in control.

 

Hayman led the peloton down the finishing straight, with Impey in perfect position on his wheel, while the rest of the sprinters battled for position, trying to avoid hitting the headwind too early. At this point, Wippert seemed to be in a poor position as he was way too far back.

 

However, Roger Kluge made a swift move up the right-hand side of the road to give Heinrich Haussler a lead-out and Wippert was quick to exploit the situation. The Dutchman got onto the German’s wheel, pushing Haussler into third, and found himself perfectly positioned when Kluge briefly hit the front before swinging off.

 

From there, Wippert launched a long sprint and no one got even close to passing the Drapac sprinter. Haussler had to settle for second while young Lotto Soudal sprinter Boris Vallee took a beautiful third place.

 

The sprint was without big favourite Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) who had been held up behind a big crash that had taken out a big part of the peloton. This caused a lot of confusion and made the sprint very uncontrollable.

 

Luckily Rohan Dennis was not one of the riders to be caught out and the Australian secured himself a deserved overall victory in the event, 2 seconds ahead of Richie Porte (Sky). His BMC teammate Cadel Evans didn’t get the fairytale ending he was hoping for but the veteran still managed to finish on the podium in the final WorldTour race of his career. The big loser in the GC battle was Tiago Machado (Katusha) who found himself behind the crash and slipped out of the top 10, with George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) being the rider to move into the coveted positions.

 

Impey got the consolation of a win in the points competition while Jack Bobridge (UniSA) crowned an aggressive race with the mountains jersey. Of course Dennis was also the best young rider while Movistar made use of their many climbers to win the teams classification.

 

With the Tour Down Under done and dusted, the WorldTour will be on hold until early March when Paris-Nice starts the series of big stage races in Europe. Racing in Australia resumes on February 1 when Evans waves goodbye to the professional peloton in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race where many of the riders from the Tour Down Under will be back in action.

 

A fast criterium

After the queen stage, it was time for the traditional finish of the Tour Down Under when the riders tackled a flat, fast criterium in the centre of Adelaide. The riders did 20 laps of a 4.5km circuit, with intermediate sprints coming at the end of the 8th and 12th laps. There was a very small climb on the circuit, allowing the organizers to hand out the final KOM points on laps 10 and 15 but everything was expected to be decided in a bunch sprint.

 

All riders who finished yesterday’s stage took the start under a beautiful sunny sky and they got their race off the expected very fast start. Lasse Norman Hansen (Cannondale-Garmin), Laurent Didier (Trek) and Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff-Saxo) launched the first attack and a quartet with Geraint Thomas (Sky) tried to join the three leaders. As they hit the climb for the first time, however, it was back together and the attacking continued as they headed onto the second lap.

 

The break is formed

Calvin Watson (Trek), Boaro, Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r) and a LottoNL-Jumbo rider got clear but the latter fell off the pace. Instead, Greg Henderson (Lotto Soudal) bridged the gap and later Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin) also made the junction. For some time Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) also tried to get into the action but the Italian never made it across.

 

The leaders built an advantage of 18 seconds but Orica-GreenEDGE were quick to signal their intentions of picking up bonus seconds with Impey. The home team took control of the peloton and made sure that the gap never got too big.

 

Bonus seconds for Impey

At the end of the 5th lap, the advantage was just 21 seconds and in the next lap, Sky even joined forces with Orica-GreenEDGE on the front. Cameron Meyer did a lot of work and brought the gap down to 13 seconds but impressively, the escapees got it back up to 17 seconds.

 

At the start of the 8th lap, Meyer managed to close it down though and so the peloton could sprint for the bonus seconds. Hayman did a good lead-out job to make it a 1-2 for Orica-GreenEDGE, with Impey leading the Australian across the line. Michael Schär (BMC) was third and made sure that Richie Porte didn’t pick up any seconds.

 

A new break takes off

As soon as the sprint was over, the peloton slowed down, and this allowed Peter Kennaugh (Sky) and Boaro to attack. They were joined by Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin), Christopher Juul (Tinkoff-Saxo), Lars Boom (Astana) and Lars Bak (Lotto Soudal) while Miles Scotson (UniSA) never made the junction.

 

While Boom led Kennaugh and Juul across the line to win the first KOM sprint, the peloton was content to let them get a gap. With Giant-Alpecin and Drapac patrolling the front, the advantage reached 1.15 as they headed out on the 12th lap.

 

The sprint teams combine forces

BMC were even forced to take control of the peloton while Bak led Howes and Boom across the line in the final intermediate sprint. For some time, the gap was kept stable at around 1.15 as the sprint teams left it late before they moved forward.

 

Giant-Alpecin, BMC, Drapac and Orica-GreenEDGE all started to work in the peloton and when Boom led Bak and Kennaugh over the top of the final KOM climb, the gap had come down to 47 seconds. The chase was now on in earnest and this caused the first crash, with Manuele Mori (Lampre-Merida) hitting the deck and being forced to abandon.

 

Aggressive Boaro tries again

As Marco Coledan (Trek) was the next rider to go down, Drapac were working hard on the front of the peloton and on lap 17, they had brought it down to just 17 seconds. Etixx-QuickStp now took control before Giant-Alpecin took over on lap 18 when the gap was just 8 seconds.

 

The peloton now sat up but Boaro refused to give up. The Italian went again but inside the final 10km, Etixx-QuickStep brought him back.

 

A big crash

This was when the big crash happened on the penultimate lap and left a big part of the bunch behind. Sky took control to keep Porte out of trouble while it came out that Kittel was one of the riders to have been left behind.

 

Lampre-Merida led the peloton onto the final lap before Sky again took over. From there, it was an Orica-GreenEDGE show but it was Wippert who stole the show.

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