Stage 5 TDU 2012: Coming out from under the Radar
“It was seriously like an end of the Tour de France stage. Look at all the people, the stadium*, the finish. I would never have dreamed a bike race to be as big in Australia, let alone Adelaide and the people have been absolutely fantastic. Coming up the hill today, it was like the tour.”
Stuart O’Grady (GreenEDGE)
This quote from Stuart is probably everywhere, but you need to read it slowly and absorb it.
*“the stadium” is metaphorical for those of you who are somewhat confused.
“Was that there before?”
Guy on the road wondering about the temporary “inflatable” 2 story corporate centre at the summit of Old Willunga Rd built by GreenEDGE (they are throwing cash at this thing)
“*%##&& $%^$%& ##%$%^$ ^&%^$^ %% &%#%* ^(*^&&^* &%%$# $%$%^%”
Eddy Merckx (I think he’s starting to get tired, patience perhaps running a bit thin)
Willunga or to quote Lance: “Y-lun-gah”.
This place has had more happen at it in the past than any other in the TDU. Contador made his comeback here and he counts this stage as being the most memorable race of his career. Sanchez, as in Luis Leon, made all the right moves in winning in 2005. There was the duel between some ‘Spanish guys’ and one Cadel Evans. Luke Roberts claimed part of his KOM title here in 2011. And this year it’s the site of the 1st ever TDU summit finish.
Speaking of Luis Leon at the start he had this to say: “I think it will come down to a man to man fight with Valverde and Gerrans.” He’s not alone: Jose Ivan Guiterrez Movistar “Do you think that Alejandro Valverde will win today? We think so too!”
Imagine a big figure 8 with the start at McLaren Vale in the middle. The bottom loop goes around Aldinga Beach for approx 40km and the top loop is Willunga (the climb of 3km at 8%). Normally the lap ratio is 3 and 2: today it’s 3 and 1 1/3. The sprinters won’t have a chance to get back on the descent following the last climb because there is no more it’s all over.
3 laps around the beach and then up, along, down, around and up again. Of course the wind will be strong and it is 30° but hey: How hard can it be?
The obligatory break went on the first lap and ate things up on the road although never more than a few minutes in front.
POI (Point of Interest)
Do you know why the break is called the ‘Break’? The expression officially is used to refer to a rider or riders who have left the main group behind. I tend to think of it more in a literal sense: if you try and leave the main group of riders, it is only a matter of time before you are broken physically, mentally and often emotionally. This is why teams have ‘support people’...but that said this is also why teams actually recruit certain people who have already broken emotionally and deliberately put them in front as they can’t damage themselves too much more, rather they now damage other people. Check Jens Voight (Radioshack-Nissan) who is known to have said “I get paid to make people suffer, how good is that.”
Sprint 1 Snapper Point lap 2 (63.4km) Kristof Goddaert (BEL) - ALM, Andrew Fenn (GBR) - OPQ and Stuart O'Grady (AUS) - GEC
Sprint 2 lap 3 (103.4km) Thomas de Gendt (BEL) - VCD, Stuart O'Grady (AUS) - GEC, Andrew Fenn (GBR) – OPQ
When the break arrives at the bottom of Willunga they are just less than 2 min in front. From the break Nathan Haas attacks on the Hill and makes it over the top....
KOM 1 Willunga Hill Cat 1 (129.1km 16-12-8-6-4-2 points) Nathan Haas Garmin-Bar Thomas DeGent Vacansoleil-DCM Rohan Dennis Uni SA-Aus Jose Ivan Gutierrez Movistar Simon Gerrans GreenEDGE Jack Bauer Garmin-Barracuda
...but on the descent*, he is caught by a group of about 25 riders who pushed the pace on the 1st climb of Willunga dropping riders like they were going backwards. The winner will be from this group. Alejandro is there with numbers (4 Movistar riders), along with Gerrans (he’s on his own having spent the others previously keeping the pace high), Boasson Hagen too (with support from at least 2 other Sky Pro-cycling guys). Radioshack-Nissan also has 3-4 guys there.
*this descent down Penny’s Hill Road is scary. You literally can’t see the road ahead of you because it drops out of sight. Apparently guys were going down at up to 100kmph+**
**note the + sign and re-read the POI
The group pushes hard with Sky, Radioshack-Nissan and Movistar all working to drive the group to the bottom of the hill as fast as they can. Once on the climb the Movistar guys go ahead along with Rohan Dennis Uni SA-Aus and Tiago Machado of Radioshack. A fantastic Madison slingshot move between Jose Ivan Guiterrez and Angel Madrazo was captured by channel 9 perfectly, completely unintentionally. If this is on you tube- find it!!
Then things get good....a small group with Michael Rogers, Simon Gerrans, Valverde, and Edvald Boasson Hagen went for the top catching RD and TH who had gone before.
At 400m Dodger went, Gerrans and Valverde leapt onto his wheel.
At 200m when he blew up, Gerrans went taking the inside corner on the left hand turn to the line.
Valverde went on the outside around and over Gerrans and then they went for the line with Valverde winning by half a wheel. It’s worth it on you tube or any of the other sites showing it.
"I'm super happy, I can't believe it," said Valverde. "My team has been genius; I've won thanks to them. It's an emotional moment for me. The stage suited me. We've put the team at the front and it's a perfect comeback for me."
Gerrans and Valverde now have the same overall time. On count back Valverde gets the win but not the overall leader’s jersey: Gerrans is in Ochre: GreenEDGE is in Ochre.
Evidence of a clean peloton: the 2 guys with the best form, renowned for winning stages such as this, ‘duelled’ it out in the final 200m. Riders were tired at the end and looked it.
So after stage 5 of the STDU 2012:
Santos Tour Down Under Leader - Simon Gerrans (GreenEDGE) (AUS) “I’m happy” duhhhhhh.
Jayco Sprint Leader - Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky ) (NOR) “I’m happy” hmmmmmm.
SKODA King of the Mountain Leader - Rohan Dennis (UniSA-Australia) (AUS) “I’m stuffed...but happy” o-kaaaaaaay
Cycle Instead Best Young Rider - Rohan Dennis (UniSA-Australia) (AUS)
Brilliant Blend Team Leader - Radioshack-Nissan
Hindmarsh Most Aggressive Rider for stage 5- Stuart O'Grady (GreenEDGE) (AUS)
Winners are Grinners
Comment of the Day
120,000 people are yelling and screaming support and as the week draws to an end it appears that the Lance affect has done a lot to increase the profile of the race: to further put it on the map. This year is bigger than any year before, Lance years included, and has a better quality field than ever before. No Lance: but the race has moved forward. What does that say about cycling? Only good things.
“Once you’ve done the stage and ridden back to the hotel from Willunga (as at least BMC and Liquigas-Can did), put your feet up. Just make sure you’re not still on the bike when you do it.***”
***failing to do so will cause implementation of emergency support system of ground and/or floor to break your fall.