Sánchez wins queen stage, Greipel survives all-out attack
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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sánchez wins queen stage, Greipel survives all-out attack

by Bjorn Haake at 4:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
 

Luis León Sánchez won today's Tour Down Under penultimate stage, a gruelling battle over Willunga Hill, ahead of Luke Roberts and Alejandro Valverde. André Greipel was in a group with Lance Armstrong, nine seconds adrift. But Greipel held on to a slim 11-second lead in the overall, with Sánchez moving up to second. Greipel's HTC-Columbia team nurtured the sprinter back to life after Cadel Evans opened the attacks on home soil.

Greipel was quite happy with the help from his friends. "I'm so thankful to my team," he said after the stage. "All day the team worked at the front to keep the gap low to the first break. Then over the climb they really looked after me and we had to chase really hard all the way to the finish. We didn't have time to panic. The break had 40 seconds. We just had to start chasing."

Greipel gave something back to the team today under Australia's January sun. "The team has been working hard for me all week so I had to show them that I was thankful by really suffering to stay there on the climb today. Mick Rogers could have gone for his own victory today, too, but he wanted to stay with me and help me win the Tour."

Rogers admitted it was close. "We were a little bit nervous leading into the final eight or nine kilometers but we used our experience and our brains," the Australian said. Only the final, flat 90-kilometer stage is ahead for the German to finish and conquer his second Tour Down Under overall victory.

Sánchez like in good old days

Sánchez already won the Tour Down Under overall in 2005 and came very close again this year. "When we attacked we still thought it was possible to fight for the general classification but coming close to the finish –and with the bunch also very near- we understood that that was no longer possible, so we decided to try and win the stage."

Sánchez was set up by his teammate Valverde. "He told me to make the sprint and try to win. When the bunch was coming so close I counterattacked and thanks to the help of my brother who is in heaven, I was able to resist till the finishing line."

Initially, the Caisse duo reacted to an attack by Evans and found themselves in the break, alongside young Peter Sagan. "I want to thank all my teammates for their wonderful job today and most of all Alejandro, who finished third, because he did everything he could so that I was able to win," Sánchez said after the stage.

Sánchez knew that today's profile would suit him. "We knew we had an opportunity to win a stage today because the course was absolutely not an easy one compared with the other days. I felt very well when I woke up this morning, with good legs and the entire team was very motivated when we started from Snapper Point."

He is likely to make it onto the podium in the final classification, with an altered approach. "I did less work in the gym, to avoid too much muscular mass. It looks like it was not a bad idea."

Sánchez and teammates arrived earlier in the month to put down the foundation. "We had very good training sessions in Australia, always with sunny weather and I noted that I was improving every day. It is obvious that today's win is a big motivation for the first part of the season. I hope to get such good results as I did the previous years."

After yesterday's attack, Lance Armstrong kept quiet today. But with his quest for an eighth Tour he won't repeat last year's mistake. "I messed up in the weeks after this last year. I went back and thought I was on schedule or slightly ahead of schedule and I goofed off a bit much and suffered bad in California," Armstrong told reporters after the stage.

"The main thing is we got good racing in, which equals good preparation mixed with no bad luck: illness, injuries, crashes." Last year, Armstrong suffered a major setback when he broke his collarbone in March.

Results stage five

1. Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP) 3hr 29min 39sec,
2. Luke Roberts (AUS) Milram at 2 secs,
3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) Caisse D'Epargne 4,
4. Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC s.t.
5. Peter Sagan (SVK) Liquigas Doimo 6,
6. Markus Fothen (GER) Milram s.t.,
7. Sebastien Rosseler (BEL) s.t.,
8. Cameron Meyer (AUS) Garmin-Transitions s.t.,
9. Greg Henderson (NZL) Sky at 9 secs,
10. Fabio Sabatini(ITA) s.t.
..

12. Robbie McEwen (AUS) Katusha s.t.,
17. Andre Greipel (GER) HTC-Columbia s.t.,
33. Lance Armstrong (USA) RadioShack s.t.,

Overall classification

1. Andre Greipel (GER) HTC-Columbia 16:53:45,
2. Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP) Caisse D'Epargne at 11sec,
3. Luke Roberts (AUS) Milram at 17 secs,
4. Robbie McEwen (AUS) Katusha at 20 secs,
5. Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC at 21 secs,
6. Greg Henderson (NZL) Sky at 24 secs,
7. Eduard Vorganov (RUS) Katusha at 25 secs,
8. Jurgen Roelandts (BEL) OmegaPharma-Lotto at 26 secs,
9. Markus Fothen (GER) Milram at 27 secs,
10. Andriy Grivko (UKR) Astana at 29 secs
...
19. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) Caisse D'Epargne at 32 secs,
24. Lance Armstrong (USA) RadioShack at 47 secs

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