Porte still optimistic over BMC's chances in Tour Down Under
Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge) holds a relatively comfortable 14 second lead over his next competitor Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff), with defending champion Rohan Dennis third, at 26 seconds. Richie Porte, Dennis’ teammate, and a former two-time winner at Willunga, acknowledged that after Gerrans’ second straight win on stage 4 the race was beginning to move away from BMC.
However the Australian climber added that his team would still compete for the top honours.
"We will see tomorrow what happens. Willunga isn’t the hardest climb in the world, so there won’t be massive gaps, but we’ll try. The race isn’t over yet. [Gerrans has] a comfortable lead, but we’re not going to give up."
Richie Porte crossing the line on stage 4 (Sirotti)
Woods holds firm in WorldTour debut
After an impressive third place on stage 3 of the Tour Down Under, Michael Woods (Cannondale) saw a slight dent in his overall ambitions on stage 4, losing eight seconds in late split. The Canadian sits eighth overall in the race after four stages, 32 seconds down on race leader Simon Gerrans, but with his top-ten aspirations relatively healthy.
Woods has already shown his climbing pedigree in the race, attacking on the Corkscrew stage. Full of confidence, and with his team fully backing him, Woods believes that the podium is a possibility. Much will of course depend on his performance on the key stage up Willunga Hill on stage 5.
"The team did a great job today protecting me. It’s only a six-day race, so let’s see what happens on Willunga. I had great legs yesterday, and I had great legs today, so if I have one more day of great legs, maybe I can get the podium.”
Woods added that Team Sky’s Sergio Henao would be the rider to follow on the penultimate stage. Henao and Woods escaped together on stage 3.
"[Sergio] Henao was climbing good again today, so he’s the guy to beat up Willunga."
White: Tour Down Under is far from over
Despite securing their third stage of the race, and Simon Gerrans extended his overall lead with just two stages to go, Orica GreenEdge’s Matt White is not letting himself, nor his team, get carried away with proceedings.
The Australian director is experienced to know that Gerrans is a moving target and that on stage 5 to Willunga Hill the climbers will be out in force to drop the race leader. Although experience would suggest that Gerrans has the race under control, White and his team fought tooth and nail for every second on stage 4 and despite Caleb Ewan being dropped before the finish, the team, and certainly Gerrans, finished the stage in a stronger position than when they started it.
"We didn’t know how the selection was going to be over the final climb. Guys like Caleb [Ewan] and [Wouter] Wippert got dropped, so the fastest sprinters weren’t there. The team rode great, and we got the first intermediate sprint. We needed those bonus sprints, and then it came back, and Daryl Impey did a great job setting up Gerro for the sprint."
Jay McCarthy is Gerrans’ closest rival but Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R), Sergio Henao (Team Sky) and Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) are all within touching distance. White knows that Willunga will be crucial.
"Enough to win? No, but someone has to gap Gerro on Willunga to win. It’s a 10-second bonus to win, so someone only has to gap him by four seconds, so it’s far from over."
Cyclingnews Podcast out now
The latest Cyclingnews podcast is available to download. Including interviews with Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish, there is also race analysis from the Tour Down Under and the Tour de San Luis.