“Wear and tear on a pro cyclists body? Yep we definitely have use by dates.”
Robbie Hunter Radioshack
“My legs hurt”
Bert Grabsch HTC
“This isn’t sun block, its war paint, lucky there’s no pressure on me today”
Graeme Brown Rabobank
Stage 5 has arrived. I think everyone has been looking forward to this and with Cam Meyer Garmin-Cervelo leap-frogging into the lead yesterday the landscape has changed.
So what exactly happened yesterday? Well a guy who sprints but is not a sprinter has won from a breakaway. He has won by enough seconds to make life hard for anyone chasing him. He leads the peloton by 10 sec to Laurens Ten Dam and 12 sec to Matt Goss.
You get a 10 sec bonus for winning a stage so Goss who is a sprinter and is in the form of his life needs to not only beat Cam Meyer on the road by time but also win the stage just to catch up! Everyone else would have to do more than this...hmmmm
I have it on good authority that Sky is going to attack, try and get Swift up the rankings. Rabobank want to get Michael Matthews up there for the win. Garmin -Cervelo are in the driver’s seat but they can’t just sit back, anything can happen with 2 climbs up Willunga Hill. The crowd want lance to attack. Everyone’s going to be screaming support for Cav just because he’s Cav. (Just quietly, I’m predicting Jack Bobridge will smash it on the second climb)
Once again an 1100am start at McLaren Vale. Wine country and the public are out in force. The drive from the Hilton, the wonderful home base for both the riders and the media, was chock-a-block.
The start is actually on an uphill slope. I notice the riders WC is being used a lot at the back, is everyone nervous?
2 Laps around the beach then up the hill for 2 more. How hard can it be? Pretty hard!!
The peloton roll out and the obligatory break begins...8 riders, none from the major players.
1st sprint along the ocean at Aldinga beach lap 1 Davide Vigano Leopard Trek 1st, Sebastian Haedo Saxobank Sungard 2nd and crit champ John Murphy BMC 3rd. It’s clear, send guys up the road take up time bonuses, get some points.
2nd sprint lap 2 Murphy 1st, Vigano 2nd and this time Juan Horrach Katusha 3rd.
And then just before the climbing laps begin, HTC shut things down. 1 min 30 is brought back in a few km and the peloton begin the ascent together.
Old Willunga Hill.
The crowd lining the road makes Checkers Hill yesterday look small. Everyone who could be there was. Walking down from the KOM line to find his spot was a blind man being lead by his lady. This guys living life. The world’s a stage get on it!!
At the top we see the helicopter sitting above us signalling the peloton and Race Director Mike Turtur gets an enormous ovation as he passes. Shortly after a rider turns the final bend...
He’s wearing Uni SA gear. The crowd already screaming go even higher.
Luke Roberts extends his lead in the KOM and crosses the line 1st on the 1st lap. Angel Madrazo Movistar 2nd, Ben Hermans Radioshack 3rd (He attacked strong up Checkers Hill yesterday) Richie Porte Saxobank Sungard 4th and Mirko Selvaggi VCD 5th.
The peloton now stretching out to several groups follow over the top.
2nd lap things are different.
Ben Hermans 1st, Riche Porte 2nd, Jack Bobridge 3rd (my prediction, c’mon Jack make me look good!) Luke Roberts 4th and Michael Rogers Sky 5th.
Now it’s time for the drag race to the finish, and I don’t mean the riders. Jumping into the car Jamie and Roger from ABC radio and me, see if we can race the peloton from the top of the KOM to the line. It’s a gamble but that’s bike racing.
While we descend madly down the Adelaide to Victor Harbour road doing 100kmph the riders are madly descending Penny Hill road also doing 100kmph. It’s touch-and-go between us and them (although they have a smaller carbon footprint, but only just, we’re in a hybrid!!)
A quick turn onto the Aldinga beach road and up to the finish line; security lets us through, make all the equipment portable and jump a barrier and we’re there. The peloton are a few km away.
Some of the guys have gone off the front; they have 13 sec and Jacks there! The last bend before the finishing straight and he slides out. He gets up and rejoins the following group. My prediction has just gone out the window much to our mutual disappointment I’m sure.
Isasi from Euskatel-Euskadi is leading down the straight. And then he gets swallowed up. The finish is going to be tight.
Suddenly Movistar, under the radar for most of the tour, makes its presence known: Its Francisco Ventoso MOV in a photo finish to Michael Matthews (where did HE come from?) and...Matt Goss! (Where did HE come from? Then again to the average guy in the crowd who’d be holding his position at the finish line for the last 45min, where did we come from?)
“This is a massive victory for me, but more important for the team. We have a new sponsor this year and to win is really important.” Said Francisco Ventoso today’s stage winner, “The crowds were incredible and the ambience is very special for the cycling.”
Landscape changes again.
“I’ve been in and out of the jersey so if the pattern keeps going the way it has it’s my turn to get back into the jersey tomorrow” Matt Goss
“I’m looking pretty good now with just the 2 sprints tomorrow” Luke Roberts backing himself and rightly so, he’s been the only guy on the podium everyday aside from the girls and Jimmy!!
So it all comes down to tomorrow.
“Yes, it’s going to come right down to the wire but I have a good team around me and hopefully we can have a good day tomorrow.”
Goss is at 8 seconds. If he wins tomorrow and Cam doesn’t gain any extra time HTC are celebrating. If he doesn’t win Garmin-Cervelo are the happy team. Mathematically there are other options, but this is where your money should go. Meyer has the jersey, Goss has to take it. Goss is the man of the week, Cam has the move of the week.
Cam is in Ochre and Best Young Gun, Matt Goss is Sprint King, Luke Roberts KOM, Richie Porte Most Aggressive and Movistar are the star team. It all comes down to tomorrow.
Stage 4: Ad-meyer-ed by all
By Simon Cadzow
“We’ve all got boyfriends. We haven’t really noticed.”
Lauren, Abbey and Amy Podium girls for the 2011 Santos Tour down Under on the subject of who is the hottest guy in the peloton
Nice to see that not only are the girls attractive and competent throughout the presentations but they’re also faithful to their men.
Who is hot property right now though is Cam Meyer Garmin-Cervelo winner from a break-away on Stage 4. (But let’s not go straight to the back page shall we?)
The peloton rolled out of Norwood at 1100am and as with previous stages they were right on time.
They followed some 7000+ recreational cyclists who rode various lengths of today’s stage in participation of the Mutual Community Challenge Tour for 2011. More often than not, you won’t find the ‘dream teams’ participating here. Here it’s the ‘Average Joe’s’ of Dodgeball fame. And regardless of how hard or easy it is they love doing it.
The goal is to get to the finish before the pros, and most achieve it. The bunch and as it turned out, the break-away, however, are hard on your heels.
Racing began with a steady travel east out of Adelaide up the picturesque Gorge road running alongside the truly Australian ‘Kangaroo Creek Dam’. This steady climb/rolling hills is consistent and warms the legs until the bunch reached the KOM climb for the day.
The first chance for glory on the agenda.
Checker’s Hill. Just under a km but over 13%.
The crowds were out in force, cheering the police on their mountain bikes who were making regular runs up and down the hill keeping everyone safe, whilst also providing unintentional but good natured entertainment. The feeling on the climb was like one of the European Classics; the last climb of Fleche Wallone perhaps?
Simone Ponzi Liquigas-Cannondale and Ben Hermans Radioshack attacked and were first over the top. Jack Bobridge Garmin-Cervelo went over 3rd, the 2011 Australian Road Champion stretching himself out.
The peloton lengthened perhaps keeping 3 maybe 4 at most wide. Andre Griepel OPL went over attacking in the first 10, maybe thinking of the first sprint and time bonuses, Robbie McEwan Radioshack and Matt Goss HTC following close also thinking the same?
The biggest cheers however just like yesterday were for, drum roll, not Lance sitting comfortably in the middle out for a Sunday stroll; rather the battle scarred Mark Cavendish HTC.
Next up; Gumeracha, the first intermediate sprint, here was where time bonuses could be gained.
Robbie McEwan 1st, Matt Goss 2nd and ....let me check this, yep, Spain's Francisco Ventoso Movistar 3rd.
Smart racing, only 2 sec separates Matt and Robbie now for the Ochre jersey.
Then Garmin-Cervelo (Cam Meyer and Matt Wilson) along with some other guys....put their plan into action: 2 guys in the break. (Prior to the KOM, breaks had tried repeatedly to get away but no-one was listening and with the 1st sprint so close following the KOM, no-one could get away – but now things were a-changing)
The telling move of the day.
Sprint number 2: Balhannah – this definitely sounds like a Viking hall of the dead where grizzled warriors sing songs and are waited on by Valkyries
De Gent VCD 1st, Kadri AG2R 2nd and Meyer 3rd. Time bonuses all valuable as well as UCI points.
The lead stretched out. 2 minutes 30 the break working together despite Kadri dropping back to the peloton.
The approach to Strathalbyn is a twisting one. It’s downhill and lends itself to the break. HTC, OPL and Radioshack started a concentrated chase although out on the road the breakaway were starting to get smart.
“We thought 'the peloton can bring it back whenever they want' so we waited until about 20-30km to go and then we really hit the gas. And when we went, we went strong.” Cam Meyer
At 3km to go the break still had 30 sec. The crowd was sensing they were going to hang on. People knew Cam was in the break, he was an Aussie. People knew HE could do it. The crowd willed it. More importantly Cam willed it.
It’s amazing the amount of noise a 10yr old kid can generate bashing their hands on a piece of cardboard advertising strung out on a metallic frame barricade.
Cam Meyer put his head down and the noise disappeared. He looked up, raised his fist and something that should not have happened, happened. He beat the peloton to the line.
He beat them enough to be in Ochre. The crowd went nuts.
So how’s it feel to win, to be in the lead?
“I’m thrilled”...” Matt Wilson in the break with me was just unbelievable, I mean I wouldn't have stayed away without him, so it was just the perfect ride and I'm very happy to take my first Pro Tour (World Tour) victory." The win adds to an already impressive resume with Meyer last year awarded the Sir Hubert Opperman Medal when he was named the Australian Cyclist of the Year after claiming three world and three Commonwealth Games gold medals on the track and the Australian time trial crown on the road. He successfully defended the time trial crown earlier this month.
How’s it feel not to be?
Disappointed...check Andre yesterday.
"I don't think we had enough support from the other teams, as we're not the only ones who have goals for the overall, but, unfortunately today we lost time to some of those guys at the front and lost the jersey," said Goss who also surrendered the lead in the young riders classification.
So where are things for tomorrow...well; Cam is in Ochre and Best young rider, Thomas De Gent holds most aggressive and Jayco Sprints, Luke Roberts holds the Skoda KOM and guess-who is the best team: Garmin-Cervelo.
In the words of Jack Bobridge Garmin-Cervelo, “Moving from car 19 to number 1 is pretty fantastic, eh.”
And in case anyone thinks this week has been a cake walk, Bert Grabsch HTC says his legs are tired.
Tomorrow goes to Willunga for Stage 5. It’s climb time.