Tour Down Under 2014 Stage 6
The Santos Tour Down Under finished the 2014 edition with the traditional circuit race in downtown Adelaide. The 4.75km (3mi) lap was covered 18 times for a total of 85.5km (53.4mi). Many times, such circuits are anti-climatic, as the race has been decided on previous stages, but as this race usually has the top few riders only separated by a handful of seconds, and three time bonus sprints over the course of the stage, the lead of the race could change hands.
The race for the overall also impacts the stage tactics. For Cannondale Pro Cycling, having other teams fighting it out for most of the race means they can take advantage of the others, let them burn their matches, and then have a weakened field in the final laps to contend with. As the tight, flat circuit is good for Elia Viviani, both as a sprinter and a track rider, the team needed to ride the stage with their brains as much as their legs.
As Orica-Greenedge's Simon Gerrans had a one-second lead over second-placed Cadel Evans of BMC and only five seconds over third-placed Diego Ulissi of Lampre-Merida, he didn't have much of a cushion. Both riders could conceivably win the race. And as Ulissi proved himself the better of Gerrans as a sprinter and Evans can pack a punchy finish when he wants, both riders were threats.
So Orica did the smart thing. They allowed a three-man move to escape at the start, and rode tempo to ensure their gap went up to over two minutes quickly. Three guys, three time bonuses on the line for the three sprints, two intermediate and the finish. Orica could let it stay away all day.
But the other teams didn't want that. First, Sky came to the front to bring the gap down for a possible move by Porte. But they realized it wasn't easy, and then sat up. After the second intermediate sprint, the Trek and Lotto-Belisol teams came to the front to erase the gap for their sprinters. Evans and Ulissi had seemingly waved the flag of surrender.
Cannondale waited. And waited. The break was brought back. They lurked, sitting in the sweet spot—just far enough back for good shelter, close enough to the front to be out of most trouble. And the pace kept going up.
The team blitzed their way to the front for the start of the final lap. They decided to burn up Viviani's support train early, as Lotto's train, working for Andrei Greipel, was proving to be almost invincible. When the team blew the last man, Viviani could slot into a good position and then sprint at the end.
As the turns came fast and the fights for position were before every corner, the various riders scrambling to hold Lotto's wheel were shuffled in each bend. Viviani lost critical position. And, when the final turn came, there was only 300 meters to the finish and Lotto still had two riders to lead out their man Andre Greipel. Greipel took it easily, with Mark Renshaw and Andrew Fenn, both of Omega Pharma-Quick-Step rounding out the podium.
Gerrans lead was never challenged all day. He became the first three-time winner of the Tour Down Under.
Directeur Sportif Biagio Conte was disappointed that his team finished without a victory, but happy with what he saw. "Tour Down Under was a hard debut. If we didn't get any win, we did our best to target our goal. I'm looking toward improvement at the Herald Sun Tour. We'll be concentrated on our goal to present something special to the amazing Australian fans." The team he brought to Australia was young and racing against teams that had very different objectives, many of whom had been honing their form throughout the Australian summer. The learning curve at the top is steep, and this squad will be both wiser and stronger the next time they pin on numbers.
With the Tour Down Under finished this squad will prepare for the next races in Australia and Asia. Wherever pro cycling is the hardest and fastest, Cannondale Pro Cycling will be there, with the green team always fighting to be at the front.
Tour Down Under 2014
Stage 6: Adelaide-Adelaide 85.5km
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol 1:55:16
2. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step same time
3. Andrew Fenn (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step same time
4. Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano same time
5. Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Drapac same time
Stage Results Cannondale Pro Cycling
13. Elia Viviani (Ita) same time
41. Cameron Wurf (Aus) same time
73. Matthias Krizek (Aut) 0:00:10
102. George Bennett (NZl) 0:01:42
103. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) same time
119. Matej Mohoric (Slo) 0:02:25
126. Guillaume Boivin (Can) same time
Final General Classification
1. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica Greenedge 19:57:35
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 0:00:14
5. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin Sharp 0:00:27
Final General Classification Cannondale Pro Cycling
20. Cameron Wurf (Aus) 0:02:49
67. George Bennett (NZl) 0:23:21
73. Elia Viviani (Ita) 0:24:01
89. Matej Mohoric (Slo) 0:30:43
90. Guillaume Boivin (Can) 0:31:23
104. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) 0:37:38
107. Matthias Krizek (Aut) 0:39:15