- by Christopher Jones
- Published: 16 October 2009
Bradley Wiggins overtakes previous race leader Chris Sutton with a phenominal Time Trial ride in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour. Bradley Wiggins’ time trial win in the fifth stage of the Tour on the Geelong foreshore has left Garmin Slipstream’s boss, Matt White, with a major dilemma.
Today’s ride over a technically difficult 10 kilometre course in 13 minutes and seven seconds, 14 seconds ahead of nearest rival, team mate and world championships silver medallist in the discipline, Svein Tuft, demonstrated why he is acclaimed as one of the globe’s best time triallers.
Gamin-Slipstream now have three riders in the top four on general classification which would be a dream scenario for any other sports manager but for White it’s a potential nightmare.
But it is a problem he planned to solve before retiring for bed.
“Maybe we’re going to flip for tomorrow. I haven’t really thought about it yet and we will probably talk about it tonight at our meeting,” White said as he pondered aloud about which of Wiggins and the winner of three stages on this year’s Tour, Chris Sutton, would be the team choice.
“We’re a team. We came here to win the Tour and we are going to do that. It’s just a question of with whom.”
Wiggins certainly has the credentials to get the nod not simply because he is the senior rider in the team. This year’s fourth-place getter in the Tour de France is also a six time world champion and a triple Olympic gold medallist.
But Wiggins was not inclined to demand top billing, although he jokingly at first suggested the best solution might be a more old fashioned one.
“We might just have a big punch-up in the carpark and see who comes off best,” Wiggins quipped to the crowd during the presentation to him of the Tour leader’s yellow jersey.
When later asked how it would be worked out he was more serious in thought.
“I haven’t been in this position before, so I don’t know how we will work it out. But if he (Sutton) wants to win, he can win. We always ride together, we get on really well and we are close both on and off the bike. I might let him have it,” Wiggins said.
Sutton, who has the possibility to become the first son of a previous winner to take overall victory in Australia’s oldest stage cycling race, was of a similar view,
“We’re just going to have a team meeting tonight. The main aim is to win tomorrow and to go for five stages straight,” Sutton said.
“We bleed for each other. We’re brothers in arms. We are not racing against each other, it’s a team effort. I just didn’t win three stages here, it was the boys who put me there – the riders and the staff.”
After politely declining to speculate on how the meeting might go, Sutton did give an indication that he would be more than happy if the decision was to ride for him.
“To win this race has always been a dream of mine. If I win I am going to be super happy. I will win the Jayco Herald Sun Tour one day – if its not this year, I’ll be back for the next one.”
But he was equally if not more adamant that he would be content with a different scenario as he re-iterated the respect he has for his older team mate.
“I’ll ride for Wiggo. We’ve known each other since 2006 when we were at Cofidis. Bradley’s a great time trial specialist and this morning talking at breakfast he really clamed me down. He is always helping me.” Sutton said.
Which all probably makes White’s call more difficult to determine. The only hint as to how it might pan out came when he acknowledged that Sutton might be more motivated on this occasion. Clearly the boss was not worrying about anyone outside the team.
“The good thing is that Cantwell is far enough away. We can get first and second anyway,” a remarkably relaxed White said.
From his side, Jonathan Cantwell (Fly V Australia), who now sits in third overall at 32 seconds behind Wiggins, was still upbeat.
“I am a little bit disappointed – when you get so close, yet so far. But I am renowned for my sprinting and criterium riding, so I am still hopeful of the podium,” Cantwell said referring to Saturday’s final stage – a criterium based on Lygon Street in Melbourne.
But even that is far from assured, with Garmin a possibility to take all three spots, with Tuft now sitting just seven seconds behind Cantwell.
Tomorrow’s sixth and final stage is a circuit race over 15 laps of 4.1km circuit taking in Lygon, Grattan and Rathdowne Streets in Carlton. With intermediate sprints after laps five and 10 delivering three, two and one bonus seconds respectively to the top three placegetters in each and stage honours worth 10, six and four seconds, it will be a helter skelter affair from start to finish.
Saturday 17 October
Stage Six – Circuit Race, Melbourne – 4.1km circuit
Start – Lygon St, Carlton – 5:15pm
Finish – Lygon St, Carlton – 15 laps (approx 6:30pm)
Stage Four review
Chris Sutton held on to his overall lead after taking his third stage win and putting him 5 secons ahead of Johnathan Cantwell and 43 seconds ahead of Wiggins.
General Classification after Stage 5
1. Bradley Wiggins GRM 14hrs24:32
2. Chris Sutton GRM + 5 secs
3. Jonathan CantwellVAU + 32 secs
4. Svein Tuft GRM + 39 secs
5. Bernard Van Ulden JBC + 1min41
6. Matthew Wilson AUS + 1min53
7. Ben Jaques-Mayne BPC + 2min02
8. Phil Zajicek VAU + 2min06
9. Aaron Kemps RRC + 2min12
10. Nick Aitken AU + 2min25