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With another powerful sprint in Adelaide, Ewan rode to a comfortable victory on the final stage of the Tour Down Under, holding off Renshaw and Nizzolo; Gerrans won the race overall, with Porte and Henao completing the podium

Photo: Sirotti

GIACOMO NIZZOLO

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MARK RENSHAW

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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RICHIE PORTE

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SERGIO LUIS HENAO

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SIMON GERRANS

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TOUR DOWN UNDER

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24.01.2016 @ 12:56 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Caleb Ewan continued the dream race for Orica-GreenEDGE on home soil at the Tour Down Under when he took the fourth stage win for the home team in the final stage. In his usual dominant fashion, he crushed the opposition in the bunch sprint at the short criterium in Adelaide, holding off Mark Renshaw (Dimension Data) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) while Simon Gerrans rolled across the line in 11th to claim the overall victory for a record fourth time.

 

Very often teams want too much and have to leave a race empty-handed. That was always a big risk when Orica-GreenEDGE lined up for the Tour Down Under, their big home race and the WorldTour opener, with the ambitious goal of targeting stage wins with Caleb Ewan and a record-breaking fourth overall win with Simon Gerrans.

 

However, there was no such misfortune for the local heroes and at the end of six days of racing they must be pinching themselves to see if they are dreaming. Today Ewan completed their dream run in the race by winning the bunch sprint on the final day in his usual dominant fashion and the team will leave Adelaide with four stage wins from six stages and the overall win and points jersey for Gerrans.

 

With Gerrans enjoying a comfortable 9-second buffer over Richie Porte (BMC), he just had to stay safe to secure the overall win and the team could concentrate their efforts on another sprint victory for Ewan. They played a much less prominent role that they had done in previous stages and left it to other teams to chase down the breaks but when it all came back together for the final sprint, there was no one stopping the impressive Ewan.

 

Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Lieuwe Westra (Astana) were the final attackers but they were swept up at the start of the penultimate lap of the 4.5km circuit in Adelaide. Tinkoff had done the final part of the way to bring them back but briefly disappeared as Dimension Data and Etixx-QuickStep came to the fore.

 

Sky briefly hit the front with Sergio Heno but Tinkoff were back in front as they approached the small climb in the second part of the circuit. Oscar Gatto did the early work before Michael Gogl took over and when they approached, it was Michael Valgren leading the Russians across the line, with Lars Bak leading the Lotto Soudal train in the opposite side of the road.

 

Etixx-QuickStep briefly surged ahead before UniSA Australia enjoyed a brief stint on the front. However, they were quickly passed by the major teams when Ian Stannard and Danilo Wyss lined out the Sky and BMC trains respectively.

 

It was the power of Dimension Data that made its presence felt as they approached the climb, with Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg taking a huge turn before Tyler Farrar kicked into action. The American did a massive amount of work but it was the Sky train on his wheel, not protected sprinter Mark Renshaw.

 

As they hit the climb, it was a big fight between Sky and Orica-GreenEDGE, with the Brits coming out on top, and as the peloton reached the top, it was Geraint Thomas leading his teammates Luke Rowe and Ben Swift. Behind the Brits, there was a big fight for position but Ewan was perfectly positioned behind Swift.

 

Things briefly seemed to get out of control for Ewan when Boy van Poppel passed on the right-hand side to set his teammate Giacomo Nizzolo perfect up for the sprint. Alexei Tsatevich (Katusha) was in third position while Swift slotted into fourth, followed by Marko Kump (Lampre-Merida) and Ewan.

 

Van Poppel did a perfect but before he had swung off, Ewan and Swift had launched long sprints. It soon became apparent that Ewan had to rivals and he put daylight into his fellow sprinters who had to fight it out for second, with Mark Renshaw narrowly holding off Nizzolo.

 

Gerrans stayed attentive and crossed the line in 11th which was enough to secure his fourth overall victory with a 9-second advantage over Porte. Sergio Henao (Sky) was 2 seconds further adrift in third.

 

Gerrans also won the points classification while Henao was the best climber in the race. Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff) was the best young rider in fourth overall and Cannondale beat Movistar in the teams classification.

 

The Australian cycling summer continues next Sunday when the second edition of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race takes place, followed by the Jayco Herald Sun Tour. The next WorldTour race is Paris-Nice which kicks off on March 6.

 

A fast criterium

As usual, the Tour Down Under finished with a criterium in Adelaide where the riders tackled 20 laps of a 4.5km circuit for an overall distance of 90km. There was a small hill in the second part of the circuit where KOM points were on offer on laps 10 and 15 but otherwise, it was a mainly flat affair, with a few tricky corners to test the bike-handling skills.

 

It was a perfect day for a bike race when the riders gather for the start and all riders who climbed Willunga Hill yesterday were present when the flag was dropped. Laurens De Vreese, Lieuwe Westra (both Astana), George Bennett (Lotto NL-Jumbo) and Adam Phelan (Drapac) attacked right from the gun and as they opened a gap, Carlos Verona (Etixx-QuickStep) bridged the gap.

 

Orica-GreenEDGE leave nothing to chance

The quintet worked well together to extend their advantage but Orica-GreenEDGE didn’t want to take any risks as both Bennett and Verona were GC threats. Hence, Luke Durbridge, Michael Albasini and Michael Hepburn assumed their positions on the front of the peloton and they kept the group on a tight leash.

 

The gap went out to 25 seconds at the start of the third lap but at the next passage of the line, it was only 10 seconds. As they started the fifth lap, it was all over for the escapees and mission accomplished for Orica-GreenEDGE.

 

Tjallingii takes off

They were much more comfortable with the situation when Tjallingii made a solo move and they didn’t react when Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) took off in pursuit. The Belgian quickly bridged the gap before Samuel Spokes (Drapac) tried to make a similar move.

 

The front group started the sixth lap with an advantage of around 30 seconds but the attacking continued when Chris Hamilton (UniSA) made a move. That sparked some action that included the likes of Peter Kennaugh (Sky) and Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r) but Daryl Impey shut things down for Orica-GreenEDGE.

 

Impey wins the sprint

Spokes was brought back and instead his Drapac teammate Nathan Earle took off. In the peloton, Cannondale hit the front with Ruben Zepuntke as they wanted to set Patrick Bevin up for bonus seconds in the first intermediate sprint as he could potentially pass Steve Morabito (FDJ) and move from 10th to 9th in the GC.

 

Trek also came to the fore with Peter Stetina and they had brought Earle back at the start of the 8th lap which offered the sprint points. After Tjallingii had led De Gendt across the line to take maximum points, Valgren and Gatto gave McCarthy a full lead-out in the battle for third. Cannondale were up there with Bevin and FDJ tried to take away the points with Murilo Fischer but it was Impey who protected Gerrans’ points jersey by taking the third-place points.

 

Trek, IAM and UniSA lead the chase

After the sprint action, the gap was down to 20 seconds and Stetina soon went back to work, briefly joined by his Trek teammate Julian Arredondo. In the 10th lap, Jarlinson Pantano (IAM) and Lucas Hamilton (UniSA) came to the fore to lend Stetina a hand. They kept the gap around 20 seconds while De Gendt led Tjallingii across the line in the first KOM sprint, followed by Pantano in the peloton.

 

Arredondo started to work with Stetina, Pantana and Hamilton when the gap had gone out to 35 seconds and they kept the gap around 30 seconds for a few laps. Meanwhile, FDJ made a smart move by sending Johan Le Bon off the front to pick up third place in the final intermediate sprint which was won by De Gendt ahead of Tajllingii.

 

De Gendt is dropped

The peloton slowly accelerated and as they started the 15th lap, it was only 15 seconds which prompted the two Trek riders to end their work. Moments later, Tjallingii led De Gendt across the line in the final KOM sprint of the race while Pantano was again first from the peloton.

 

As they started the 16th lap, the gap was back up to 30 seconds but now Drapac hit the front with their entire team. This prompted Tjallingii to react and as he upped the pace, De Gendt was dropped.

 

Westra bridges the gap

De Vreese and Westra made another double Astana attack and flew past De Gendt who had sat up. While Drapac chased hard in the peloton, De Vreese gave it his all for Westra before sitting up and allowing his teammate to join Tjallingii on lap 17.

 

Pantano was again leading the chase in the peloton which was just 15 seconds behind before Dimension Data took over with a powerful move led by Jaco Venter. Manuele Boaro led the Tinkoff train up next to them and the Russians quickly took full control. Boaro led the peloton onto the penultimate lap and brought the escapees back to set the scene for the sprint finish.

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