As we come into the final stage of Australia’s UCI World Tour Road Race, the Tour Down Under, we take a look at the action in the stages leading up to the finale which has Aussie Cameron Meyer (Team Garmin-Cerv?lo) in the leaders Ochre Jersey followed closely by Stage 1 winner, Matthew Goss (HTC Highroad) and Laurens ten Dam of Team Rabobank in third.
IG Markets Stage 2
146km Tailem Bend to Mannum
In Stage two, Robbie McEwen avoided the crashes and finished behind Ben Swift to take the Ochre Jersey from Tasmanian Matthew Goss. Crashes caused havok in the final kilometres of the stage which saw Goss, Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad), US sprinter Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) and Australians Chris Sutton (Sky), Michael Rogers (Sky) and Bernard Sulzberger (UNI SA) also go down.
There was gravel on the sides of the road as well as a line of gravel in the middle of the road. As the riders came out fo the final corner there was gravel in the middle of the road. Wheels went sliding bringing several riders down.
“It’s nice to be in the lead,” said McEwen after the stage. “I was gunning to win the stage and I went from quite a way out to try to spring the element of surprise through the inside at about 250m to go. Swifty came up with a really good lead out and won the stage so good on him. I managed to hold on for second and with the bonus seconds it’s a nice surprise to be leading.”
Colemans Group Stage 3
129km Unley to Stirling
Michael Matthews of Team Rabobank took out Stage 3 in the sprint finish which also put Matthew Goss back in the Ochre Jersey in the overall standings and last years winner, Andr? Greipel of Germany into second overall. Goss had to chase the peloton with 10km to go after a puncture.
Matthews is in the spoltlight after his U23 win in the UCI World Championships in Melbourne in 2010 and recent Bay Classic Series win.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Matthews “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.
TDU Mutual Community Stage 4
124km Norwood to Strathalbyn
The Australians keep up appearances on home soil with Cameon Meyer take his first win as a pro he joins a breakaway group in the final 35km than managed to keep the peloton at bay.
“We kept the time gap in check and then put the gas down,” said Meyer. “If it was going to come back the plan was to lead Tyler out.
“It’s going to be hard to keep the jersey but we are going to give it a
red hot go. Tomorrow is one of the longest stages so maybe let a break go and take the time bonuses and let the sprinters’ teams bring it back. The time bonuses over the next two days will make it hard for sure.”
With this win, Cameron Meyer also took out the Ochre jersey ahead of Laurens ten Dam and Matthew Goss.
Jayco Stage 5
131km McLaren Vale to Willunga
While the Aussie riders Matthews and Goss fought in the sprint finish of the 131km stage, Spanish Movistar rider Francisco Ventoso took line honors to leave Cameron Meyer in Ochre and Matthew Goss in second overall.
It was a stage of attacks as riders challenges for points and Skoda King of the Mountain jersey holder Luke Roberts (Uni SA) claimed maximum points crossing Old Willunga Hill. Jack Bobridge (Garmin-Cerv?lo), Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) and Belgium Radio Shack rider Ben Hermans attempted a breakaway at the foot though were caught 10 kilometres from the finish.
The Spanish rider proved too strong for the Aussie TDU Stage and GC contenders Meyer, Matthews and Goss.
“We have a new sponsor this year and to win is really important. We can be calm for the rest of the year, now we have won a race,” said Ventoso of his Movistar team that now leads the Brilliant Blend team standings ahead of Vacansoleil-DCM and AG2R la Mondiale.
“My legs today are stronger than other days. The crowds were incredible and the ambience is very special for cycling,” said the jubilant stage winner.
The final stage of the Santos Tour Down Under takes the peloton on a 90km round trip starting and finishing in Adelaide. Cameron Meyer of team Garmin-Cervélo has good chances though will need strong team support to keep his lead and prevent a surprise attack.
Photos : Santos Tour Down Under / Regallo