Tour Down Under 2014 Stage 5
McLaren Vale - Willunga Hill 151.5km
The Santos Tour Down Under's route was set up in the hopes that the fight for the general classification would be close enough that the finish atop Willunga Hill would be a major factor in the race. So when the riders rolled out of McLaren Vale for their 151.5km fifth stage, there was a pretty good chance that the entire day was a leg-softener for the battles that were sure to occur the last time up Willunga.
Cannondale Pro Cycling didn't have a rider in position to contest the overall, and stage six plays to sprinter Elia Viviani's strengths, so most of the team was sure to conserve energy today. The wild card was their frequent flyer, Cameron Wurf, who, if he finds an opportunity to escape he will surely take it.
But those who hate waiting for the inevitable have a habit of sometimes preventing it. The oldest man in the race, Jens Voigt struck out on the attack early. He was joined by three others. The foursome quickly zoomed to a nine minute lead, then almost as quickly saw it drop to five, then were able to ride just hard enough so that the field slowly clawed them back. Over that time, the break gobbled up both intermediate sprints and the King of the Mountain sprint. When Voigt was finally brought back with about twelve kilometers remaining, there were only 25 riders or so in the lead group, with another group of 25 chasing.
Much of what happened in the pack in the intervening distance was subtle at the time, but important to the final classification of the race. Race leader Cadel Evans had minimized the effort his BMC team expended in protecting the race lead to save them for the finale. Second-placed Simon Gerrans had gotten his Orica-Greenedge team to work very hard to keep the pace high. And Team Sky was riding hard, but only at moments.
But just as the teams took a breather, with seven kilometers remaining, Voigt attacked again. And kept his lead to the foot of Willunga, a three-kilometer rise with an average grade of 7%. At that point, BMC ramped up the pace, with Evans in second wheel. They blew rider after rider out of the back. Then Evans responded to an attack. Sky's Richie Porte countered, and it looked like a repeat of the Corkscrew climb a few days ago. Porte and Evans were away. Only it was Porte putting the screws to Evans.
He dropped Evans, who at first was chasing solo, then struggled, allowing Gerrans and third-placed Diego Ulissi to catch him. Into the final kilometer, Gerrans and Ulissi dropped Evans. Porte won, Ulissi won the sprint for second, and Evans lost six seconds to Gerrans, thus dropping him to second overall, one second down on Gerrans.
Cannondale had a quiet day in the saddle. Wurf didn't find his opening, but, as a hometown rider, climbed Willunga well, finishing 31st. Directeur Sportif Biago Conte agreed the day was one of saving efforts. "We will wait for other sprints and new chances for Viviani."
Tomorrow is an 95km circuit race in Adelaide. The race will comprise 20 laps of a 4.75km circuit. There will be three intermediate sprints before the finish, and all four of these finish lines have time bonus seconds on offer for the first three riders to cross. While the general classification battle will happen for the first three, meaning that the sprinters will probably sit back and observe to save their strength for the final sprint; that's the one for the stage win. Cannondale Pro Cycling will probably put all their eggs in setting up Elia Viviani for the stage win. He was probably the fastest sprinter on stage four, but bad position meant his speed was only good enough for third. He's hoping to take the top step of the podium in Adelaide.
Tour Down Under 2014
Stage 5: McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill 151.5km
1. Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky 3:42:20
2. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:00:10
3. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica Greenedge same time
4. Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin 0:00:14
5. Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica Greenedge same time
Stage Results Cannondale Pro Cycling
31. Cameron Wurf (Aus) 0:01:10
64. Matej Mohoric (Slo) 0:05:12
77. George Bennett (NZl) 0:06:39
87. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) 0:06:57
89. Guillaume Boivin (Can) same time
114. Elia Viviani (Ita) 0:11:32
117. Matthias Krizek (Aut) same time
1. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica Greenedge 18:02:19
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:01
3. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:00:05
4. Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky 0:00:10
5. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin Sharp 0:00:27
General Classification Cannondale Pro Cycling
24. Cameron Wurf (Aus) 0:02:49
66. George Bennett (NZl) 0:21:39
76. Elia Viviani (Ita) 0:24:01
87. Matej Mohoric (Slo) 0:28:18
92. Guillaume Boivin (Can) 0:28:58
104. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) 0:35:56
110. Matthias Krizek (Aut) 0:39:05