Third stage win for race leader Greipel, Armstrong attacks
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Friday, January 22, 2010

Third stage win for race leader Greipel, Armstrong attacks

by Conal Andrews at 5:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour Down Under
 

Reinforcing his overall lead with yet another superb sprint, André Greipel outpaced Robbie McEwen (Katusha), Graeme Brown (Rabobank), Gert Steegmans (Team RadioShack) and the rest of the main bunch on the fourth stage of the Tour Down Under. The HTC Columbia rider hit the line first in Goolwa, grabbing his third stage win in four days and adding more bonus seconds to his overall lead. He is now a full 20 seconds clear of second-placed McEwen.  Team Sky’s Greg Henderson finished out of the top ten today and dropped to third overall. He and Steegmans are 24 seconds adrift.

"We knew it was going to be a windy day but I had teammates at the front all day and we were well protected," Greipel said afterwards.

"Before the first sprint we picked up the speed to make sure the break didn't get too much time. We stopped riding at 50km to go to save some energy and some other teams did some work. RadioShack put it in the gutter with about 10km to go so we went back to the front. With 5km to go we brought them back and stayed at the front until the finish. The guys did the perfect lead out and no-one could come around us."

Radioshack’s pressure in the strong winds saw Lance Armstrong and Thomas Vaitkus ride clear of the peloton. They didn’t mean to break the elastic but once the gap was there, the duo combined to open up a sizeable lead. However the wind and the chase behind proved too strong, leading to the end of the move with three kilometres remaining.

The rest of the team tried to get Steegmans into a good position but, legs fatiguing after an earlier effort, he had to be content with that fourth place.

"I couldn't really sprint today," he explained after the stage, according to team reports. "I flatted 20km from the finish and Rosseler brought me back. Then I sat on Greipel's wheel and that was great. Goss started pulling late and Greipel went left so I went right...but I got blocked between Goss and Greipel. There was no way through.”

World champion Cadel Evans concentrated on staying out of trouble, rolling in a solid 21st. “151 slightly flatter but very gusty kilometres,” he said afterwards. “I can't remember the last time I raced in such windy conditions. Not to worry, between big George and little 'Santa' (Santambrogio), I had a well protected ride to the finish. That last kilometre though.....how windy was that? I was expecting the peloton to blow off the road. Greipel won the somewhat reduced group sprint again, after that stage...chapeau... It will take some aggressive racing to shake him tomorrow.”


Breakaway group doesn’t get far:

A wet start in Norwood hinted at the stormy conditions that the riders would face towards the end. A group went clear before the day’s KOM climb on Fox Creek Road, with seven riders joining forces to try to build a sufficient lead. These were David Kemp (UniSA), Olivier Kaisen (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Thomas Frei (BMC Racing), Stef Clement (Rabobank), Anthony Ravard (AG2R-La Mondiale), Jonathan Castroviejo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Thomas Rohregger (Milram), with the latter beating Kemp to the prime line and extending his advantage in the KOM competition.

Ravard won the first sprint at Langhorne Creek, while Rohregger was quickest in the second, at Milang. The break was being closely tabbed by the main bunch and only succeeded in opening a maximum gap of just over three minutes. This was halved with less than 30 kilometres remaining, the trio of Castroveijo, Clement and Kemp pushing onwards. They were all hauled back, though.

With 15 kilometres left, Armstrong and Vaitkus rode off the front of the bunch. The latter had been driving the pace at the time and someone let a wheel go, creating the gap. They put their heads down and extended this to an advantage of 22 seconds, but were finally hauled back with three kilometres remaining. Both lost time from there to the finish, conceding 17 seconds. Also caught out was Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne), who dropped the same margin and went from fourth overall to 26th. Armstrong is in 29th place.

Tomorrow’s 149 kilometre stage from Snapper Point to Willunga will be the crucial decider in the race, with whoever is in the race lead afterwards likely to go on to take the overall title on Sunday. It includes two ascents of the steep Willunga Hill, and riders such as Armstrong, Valverde and Evans are sure to attack if they have the legs. Aside from chasing a stage win, the goal will be to distance Greipel, who is one of the fastest sprinters in cycling but not known as a climber.

He said that he is going to rely on his HTC Columbia team-mates to help him. “We feel good. Tomorrow will be a hard day but the guys will look after me on the hills and hopefully we can stay in the front group."

Saxo Bank has Baden Cooke in tenth overall, 30 seconds back and will also hope to break Greipel. “Baden Cooke finished in the front group and it will be interesting to follow him on tomorrow's hilly stage where we are aiming to put him in the right position in the sprint in Willunga," said sports director Bradley McGee.

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Santos Tour Down Under (Australia, ProTour), January 19-24:

January 22, Stage 4: Norwood – Goolwa:

1, Andre Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia, 149.5 kilometres in 3 hours 30 mins 29 secs
2, Robbie McEwen (Aus) Katusha
3, Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank
4, Gert Steegmans (Bel) Team RadioShack
5, Manuel Cardoso (Por) Footon Servetto
6, Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin-Transitions
7, Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
8, Matthew Goss (Aus) HTC-Columbia
9, Robert Forster (Ger) Team Milram
10, Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française Des Jeux, all same time

Sprint 1 - Langhorne Creek:

1, Anthony Ravard (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, 6 pts
2, David Kemp (Aus) Team UniSA-Australia, 4
3, Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Team Milram, 2

Sprint 2 – Milang:

1, Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Team Milram, 6 pts
2, David Kemp (Aus) Team UniSA-Australia, 4
3, Thomas Frei (Swi) BMC Racing Team, 2


KOM - Fox Creek Rd:

1, Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Team Milram, 16 pts
2, David Kemp (Aus) Team UniSA-Australia, 12
3, Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank, 8

Teams:

1, HTC-Columbia, 10 hours 31 mins 27 secs
2, BMC Racing Team
3, Quick Step
4, Milram
5, Caisse d'Epargne
6, Footon-Servetto-Fuji
7, Team Sky
8, Rabobank
9, Ag2R La Mondiale, all same time
10, Liquigas Doimo, at 17 secs


General classification:

1, Andre Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia, 13 hours 23 mins 57 secs
2, Robbie McEwen (Aus) Katusha, at 20 secs
3, Greg Henderson (NZl) Team Sky, at 24 secs
4, Gert Steegmans (Bel) Team RadioShack, same time
5, Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank, at 26 secs
6, Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
7, Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team, both same time
8, Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana, at 29 secs
9, Robbie Hunter (RSA) Garmin-Transitions, at 30 secs
10, Baden Cooke (Aus) Team Saxo Bank, same time

Sprint classification:

1, Andre Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia, 24 pts
2, David Kemp (Aus) Team UniSA-Australia, 16
3, Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team, 12

Mountains classification

1, Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Team Milram, 42 pts
2, David Kemp (Aus) Team UniSA-Australia, 28
3, Timothy Roe (Aus) Team UniSA-Australia, 22

Teams classification

1, Ag2R La Mondiale, 40 hours 13 mins 21 secs
2, BMC Racing Team
3, Milram
4, Team Sky, all same time
5, Caisse d'Epargne, at 16 secs
6, Footon-Servetto-Fuji, at 17 secs
7, HTC-Columbia, at 23 secs
8, Garmin – Transitions, at 32 secs
9, Team Katusha, same time
10, Astana, at 58 secs


Best young rider:

1, Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto, 13 hours 24 mins 23 secs
2, Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Française Des Jeux, at 13 secs
3, Jose Rojas (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne, at 20 secs

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