Sunday, 23 January 2011

Swift seals stage for Sky as Cam Meyer takes the overal win ahead of Goss

Ben Swift took a second stage victory with a win on the final day of the 2011 Tour Down Under, ahead of team mate Greg Henderson who finished in 2nd place, as Sky scuppered the attempts of HTC-Highroad to set their man Goss up for the sprint and victory that would have seen him take the overall title. Instead the acolade of first season win went to Aussie rider Cameron Meyer of Garmin-Cervelo.

The 90 kilometre 20 lap circuit stage in Adelaide began with two riders harbouring realistic hopes of the overall title; race leader Cameron Meyer of Garmin-Cervélo and HTC-Highroad’s Matt Goss, eight seconds back in second. Rabobank pairing of Laurens ten Dam and Michael Matthews also had a slim outside chance of taking the title.

From the outset, Garmin-Cervélo signalled their intention to take the race as Matt Wilson launched a solo attack, the Australian soon joined by former Tour Down Under winner and Adelaide resident Stuart O’Grady of Leopard Trek, Iaki Isasi of Euskaltel-Euskadi and Dimitro Champion of AG2R.

Meanwhile HTC-Highroad’s big guns including Bernie Eisel, Mark Renshaw and Mark Cavendish took control of the front of the peloton, knowing the vital bonus seconds on offer on lap 8 might help Goss bridge the gap on Meyer.

HTC-Highroad's bad boy Mark Renshaw shrugged off some barging from Saxo Bank’s Juan Jose Haedo as he tried to lead out team mate Goss, but the 24-year-old Australian was unable to fully profit and finished third behind the Team Sky pairing of Swift and Henderson to miss out on the overall title by just two seconds from Meyer – although he does win the Jayco Sprint Jersey – while Swift’s win saw him take the third podium position, and rueing a race that he had led earlier in the week eluding him at the very end.

Santos Tour Down Under IG Markets Stage 6 results

1 Ben Swift Sky Procycling 01:53:47
2 Greg Henderson Sky Procycling st
3 Matthew Goss HTC-Highroad st
4 Robbie McEwen Radio Shack st
5 Juan Jose Haedo Saxo Bank Sungard st
6 Allan Davis Astana st
7 Andre Greipel Omega Pharma-Lotto st
8 Romain Feillu Vacansoleil-DCM st
9 Davide Vigano Leopard Trek st
10 Jonathan Cantwell UNI SA - Australia st

Santos Ochre Leaders' Jersey

1 Cameron Meyer Garmin-Cervelo 17:54:27
2 Matthew Goss HTC-Highroad 00:02
3 Ben Swift Sky Procycling 00:08
4 Michael Matthews Rabobank 00:09
5 Laurens ten Dam Rabobank 00:10
6 Francisco Ventoso Movistar 00:17
7 Andre Greipel Omega Pharma-Lotto 00:26
8 Blel Kadri AG2R La Mondiale st
9 Allan Davis Astana 00:27
10 Luke Roberts UNI SA - Australia 00:28

Jayco Sprint Jersey

1 Matthew Goss HTC-Highroad 28
2 Michael Matthews Rabobank 20
3 Thomas De Gendt Vacansoleil-DCM 20

Skoda King of the Mountain Jersey

1 Luke Roberts UNI SA - Australia 60
2 Ben Hermans Radio Shack 36
3 Mitchell Docker UNI SA - Australia 32

Cycle Instead Young Rider Jersey

1 Cameron Meyer Garmin-Cervelo 17:54:27
2 Matthew Goss HTC-Highroad 00:02
3 Ben Swift Sky Procycling 00:08

SA Brilliant Blend Winning Team Jersey

1 Movistar 53:44:56
2 Vacansoleil-DCM at 00:08
3 AG2R La Mondiale at 00:25

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Bobridge beats himself up about late-stage crash as Cameron Meyer takes a second stage

Adelaide sensation Bobridge, part of a three-man breakaway late in yesterday's pivotal Willunga stage that included fellow Aussie Richie Porte and German Ben Hermans, led the field over the second ascent of Willunga Hill but was reined in on the run to the finish line. With 4km to ride, Bobridge made a sharp left-hand turn - one of the last bends of the 125km southern circuit - and slid, crashing to taste the tarmac.

The under-23 world time-trial champion was quickly back on his feet and rejoined the race, allaying concerns he could be forced out of tonight's city loop final stage. Sporting only minor physical injuries and a somewhat bruised ego the young rider was furious with himself.

"It's alright, it will pull up," said Bobridge "I just over-reacted to a rider in front of me, went into the corner a bit rough and ended up on the ground."

But Meyer, whose overall lead was reduced from 12sec to 8sec ahead of HTC-Highroad's Matt Goss, praised the effort of Bobridge in controlling the race tempo.

"It would have been good to have him in the last 4km but unfortunately, he had a bit of a slide-out on that last corner," Meyer said.

"We'd done enough for me to be in the right situation with 4km to go that it didn't matter. The boys rode superbly and, at the end of the day, we're very happy."

Bobridge said until the crash, his day had gone to plan.

"I was riding for Cameron all day, I went with the front guys on the climb there and it worked out perfect," he said.

"At the end of the day, HTC had to do the work there, which they did and set it up beautifully.

"I knew the guys were coming pretty hard behind. I had really good legs, just disappointed I couldn't be there for Cameron at the end."

While Meyer remains in overall lead, his margin is slight leaving it wide open for the likes of Robbie McEwan to take the top spot in the final stage: a dream he has already admitted he would like to realise here.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Robbie vows to win the Tour as fellow Aussie Cam Meyer takes the stage on day four

The Aussies are certainly proving their worth in the opening days of this years Tour as Cam Meyer snatched the coverted Tour jersey from the shoulders of compatriot Matt Goss. However it was Golden Coast veteran Robbie McEwan with his "model domestique" Lance Armstrong riding shotgun who vowed to win despite slipping into fourth place. With a record 12 Tour Down Under stages under his belt, the sprinter admitted it would be hard but not impossible to achieve.

''It is still not lost but if the sprinters want to fight it out among themselves they have to co-operate for there to be a battle,'' McEwen said ahead of the final two stages.

Armstrong yesterday joked he was being a ''model domestique'' for McEwen, who is just 15 seconds off the lead.

The team mates have pledged to ride the Twitter ride in Brisbane on Monday to raise awareness and money for the state which has recently been victim of massive flooding that has destroyed thousands of homes and lives.

Meyer who had started the day hopeful of a win admitted being overwhelmed when he ended the stage with his first leader's jersey and a 10sec lead over his nearest rival.

The young Aussie rider was part of a four-man break which dominated the 124km stage to Strathalbyn.

''To get the stage victory and throw my hands in the air over the finish line was just a great feeling. To get the jersey is unbelievable,'' he said.

As they head into the penultimate stage Meyer leads Belgian rider Thomas DeGendt by 10sec and Goss by 12sec.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Rabobank rider Matthews wins as chaos continues to marr the Tour Down Under on day three

Finishing the 129.7km stage seemed a simple task for the seasoned professional riders, and for Michael Matthews who crossed the line in first place sealing a victory for Rabobank it was; but for others the job was not as simple as it should have been. Confusion and miss-communication added insult to riders' injuries from yesterdays crashes as police re opened roads just minutes after Matthews took the stage.

Riders, including Manxman and favourite to win Cavendish who was already bitter, bloodied and bruised from yesterdays tumble onto the tarmac, were forced to negotiate traffic as they fought for positions on the line.

Race Director Mike Turtur, who has already come under sharp criticism for gravel patches on Stage 2, promised to hold an emergancy meeting to establish how the faux par occurred.

"We've had a policy in place whereby the green light vehicle is the last vehicle on the road behind the last rider, for 13 years," he explained.
"For whatever reason, our understanding is that green light vehicle was called forward of the Cavendish group with about 10 km to go and we don't know the reason why.

"Until we know how and why, I can't make any further comment -- but it's not the policy we've had in place for 13 years, it's never happened before.

"It's not good, but sometimes these things happen,” he added. “We'll be meeting as soon as possible with police."

The events leave Cavendish in the rather embarrasing postion of Lantern Rouge as the race heads into its fourth stage. However it was not all doom and gloom for the HTC-Highroad team as rider Matt Goss reclaimed overall first position at the end of the stage. Their former team mate Andre Greipel, winner of the race in 2008 and 2010, finished second on the stage and now occupies the same position overall.

Stage winner Matthews, who won the under-23 road race at last autumn's UCI Road World Championships in Geelong, claimed victory with a perfectly timed run to the line.

"It's unbelievable," said Matthews, who has stepped up to the ProTeam ranks with Rabobank after riding last year's race with the the UniSA-Australia national team. "This is probably one of the most difficult stages I've ridden and one of the most difficult in this tour. It's really great to win this one and thanks to my team.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Swift avoids carnage to clinch victory as McEwan takes overal lead on Day 2

Following a crash-marred stage, Sky rider Ben Swift took a victory ahead of rivals Robbie McEwan (RadioShack) and Graeme Brown (Rabobank). The longest stage of this year’s tour over 146km from Tailem Bend to Mannum marked the first time the race had crossed the Murray River. Early attacks were immediately shut down, but it was Yuriy Krivtsov (Ag2r), quickly joined by David Tanner (SaxoBank SunGard) and Mitchell Docker (Uni-SA) who got away from the main bunch, the trio building up an advantage that reached three and a half minutes. This was soon nailed back down to just under two and a half minutes, however, as the riders reached the first sprint point of the day, which was taken out by Tanner.

With the peloton reaching the only king of the mountains climb on the stage, and the break within ninety seconds, Luke Roberts (Uni-SA) broke free from to claim more points in the classification. Picking up fourth place, he was joined by Simon Zahner and Timothy Roe (BMC) and the trio caught the three up the road.

HTC-Highroad and Omega Pharma-Lotto started to control the peloton, keeping the time gap to around forty–five seconds. With Luke Roberts reaching his objective and defending his jersey, he dropped back to the peloton.

Team Sky led the peloton in the final four kilometres but as they heading into a tricky corner some of their riders came down,bring more riders with them including yesterdays victor Goss, and race favourites Cavendish and Greipel. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) benefited and got a small gap on the peloton as Astana assumed control of the peloton. Rojas’s move didn’t last long as an Astana charged peloton absorbed him with two kilometres to go.

In a frantic dash to the line with Garmin-Cervelo leading the peloton, another crash occurred involving Cameron and Travis Meyer and Julian Dean (Garmin) and Bernie Sulzberger (Uni-SA) among others. In the end it was Swift who avoided the crashes best to take the victory.

Following the stage, tensions flared as riders made their feelings about the finish known. The most vocal of these was Robbie McEwan: "You'd think this road was covered in this fine gravel," . "We just had no traction.

"It was pretty ordinary and it was dangerous and then really treacherous."

Race organisers were quick to fire back at these remarks, defending the stage. "They crashed on a new stretch of road 4km out from the finish line," race director Mike Turtur said.

"You always race to the conditions and from what I've been told one rider came in too fast and crashed into (Chris) Sutton and he took out Cavendish.

"Near the finish line it was a typical peloton sprint crash. And this is the safest race in the world.
"There is no way we'd be putting on a race that would cause any danger to the peloton. All the riders have been warned of the potential dangers through the manual. If they want a billiard table (it's unrealistic). There seemed to be a lot of speed and they were taking chances."

Picture source: AdelaideNow

Matt Goss proves he is the one to watch in this years Tour Down Under

Veteran rider Robbie McEwan and former HTC-Columbia rider Andre Greipel were once again out smarted by 24 year old Goss as he took the win on the first official stage of the Tour.

The 138km stage started in Mawson Lakes in Adelaide's northern suburbs and from the outset attacks came from the peloton. The climb at Black top road was the launching pad for a three man attack featuring Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel), Luke Roberts (UniSA) and Julien Loubet (Ag2R-la Mondiale).

Following this initial attack, a group of five riders featuring Simon Clarke (Astana), Mathieu Perget (Ag2r), Mitch Docker (Uni-SA) and Euskatel-Euskadi duo Jon Izaguirre and Miguel Minguez attacked, building a break of thirty seconds. As their lead extended, it was clear the break of the day had formed.

The group gained a maximum advantage of three minutes and thirty seconds before HTC, Sky and Omega Pharma-Lotto began to reel them in. The gap then hovered around the two minute mark for half the race as a bunch sprint in Angaston was imminent. HTC and Sky were prominent with Bert Grabsch and Michael Rogers respectively taking massive turns at the front to ensure a high pace for their respective leaders.

The final kilometre was a frantic bustle for the line that is all now familiar to the fans who line the finish, hoping to see the chaos and energy that it produces, but it was Goss storming to the line to take the win over pre-race favourite and two-time winner Andre Greipel. Goss's win ensures he has the leader's ochre Jersey as well as the young rider classification and sprint jersey.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Matt Goss takes win on pre-Tour opening crit the Cancer Council Classic

Matt Goss took the first win for HTC-Highroad yesterday in the pre-Tour opening criterium race known as The Cancer Council Classic. The 51km route through Adelaide is a traditional prologue criterium for the Tour Down Under. Continuing a strong start to his season, Goss held off fellow team mate and compatriot Mark Renshaw and Robbie McEwan, making it an Aussie 1,2,3 in the charity race.

However it was the crash on the 2nd to last corner that really affected the final standings as the boys on bikes headed into the Tour proper; Henderson was eliminated by the spill that saw two time and defending chamption Andres Greipel out of the running. The expected showdown between hot favourites Greipel and former team mate and sprint rival Mark Cavendish has overshadowed the arrival of seven times Tour De France winner, Lance Armstrong who is racing in his last overseas event. Earlier in the day, Chloe Hosking kicked off the Aussie winning streak with a victory in the womens race.

The 13th edition of the Tour Down Under starts on Tuesday with stage one, a 138km route from Mawson Lakes to Angaston. The fairly flat stage includes one King of the Mountians climb and two intermediate sprints. With a flat run in the last 3km there are sure to be sprinter fireworks as they loop their way into the home stretch.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Gerrans victorious in sprint as Goss takes leaders jersey in final day of the Jayco Bay Classic

Simon Gerrans was crowned leader of the sprinters classification on the final day of the Jayco Bay Classic as Sky headed into their second season as a ProTour team. Taking the Green Jersey on Monday, he made his calculated move along with the now infamous bad boy Mark Renshaw. With Gerrans outpacing his compatriate, he had the maximum points in the bag on the first intermediate sprint before the pair were brought back into the fold of the peloton.

Sky riders Sutton and Swift were prominent in further breaks that eventually saw Sutton placed 4th in the finish after much jostling in the last 900m that saw Goss (E3/Pure Tasmania)emerge as the fastest finisher ahead of Allan Davis ( and Michael Matthews (Urban). Sutton ended the series as Sky's highest placing overall at fifth with Henderson placed at sixth and Gerrans finishing in 9th.

Crits such as this traditionally mark the beginning of the year as pre season openers before the season proper kicks off on the 16th with the Tour Down Under. With just 10 days to go until the start, HTC-Highroad and Ag2r La Mondiale will be the first two international teams to land in Adelaide ready for the 2011 Santos Tour Down Under.
Mark Cavendish, a former Track World Champion, Madison (2005, 2008), will be competing for the first time at the Santos Tour Down Under. Cavendish has 15 stage victories (2008/9/10) in the Tour de France under his belt and will be looking to kick of this years season with a better start than last years which saw him struggle with health problems and a series of crashes that saw the suspension of team mate Renshaw in a controversial sprint as Cavendish failed to live up to his own expectations. Later redeemed by victory he was seen emotional on the podium as he began to see his hard work finally pay off.

Meanwhile, Ag2r La Mondiale is the only team to have competed at every Santos Tour Down Under since it began in 1999, producing the most overall winners of the Santos Tour Down Under, taking out the honours in 2000 (Gilles Maignan FRA); 2003 (Mikel Astarloza ESP); 2006 (Simon Gerrans AUS) and 2007 (Martin Elmiger SUI).