Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) rode an aggressive stage five of the Tour Down Under but the Australian rider had to settle for fifth place on the finish at Willunga Hill after a touch of wheels disrupted his final effort. The result meant that he was forced to settle for fourth overall with just one flat stage remaining in the race. He finished fourth overall in last year’s race after spending a day in the leader's ochre jersey.
“It’s a tough result to just finish off the podium after today’s stage. The boys rode really well and we were calm during the first 110km of the race,” McCarthy said at the finish.
Bora-Hansgrohe rode a tactically astute race with their team centred around McCarthy. They sat back as Team Sky, Orica-Scott and BMC Racing traded blows on the front of the peloton as they race approached Willunga Hill. World champion Peter Sagan kept McCarthy in check.
When Richie Porte (BMC Racing) stretched his legs and attacked to win the stage – and effectively seal overall victory – McCarthy held firm, aware that his priority was to watch his other podium rivals. When second placed rider Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) began to slip back, McCarthy’s chances for a WorldTour podium finish increased significantly.
However cycling can be cruel and in the blink of an eye the Bora-hansgrohe all-rounder found himself on the back foot.
“Coming into the first climb we were in a good position and weren’t stressed, and coming into the final we had a bit of a crosswind but I had Peter still with me and he kept me calm. We came into the final climb in a good position and at the bottom I could see a couple of the guys behind me in the GC that were struggling, so I didn’t follow Richie Porte in the last kilometre – I knew that his acceleration would be too much for me, I stayed with Chaves and we brought Henao back in.”
“Coming into the final 1.5km I touched wheels with Henao and I had to stop and restart and just as that happened Haas and Ulissi came back coming into the final.”
Haas’ impressive second place was enough to catapult him onto the podium, with Chaves able to move into second overall. With one flat stage around Adelaide remaining, Haas holds a three second lead over McCarthy. The time bonuses during the stage could be decisive.
“I gave it everything to the line but I couldn’t quite get the seconds I needed for the podium. I’m a bit disappointed but I rode my best.”
The final stage is likely to see the team turn their attention towards Peter Sagan and Sam Bennett, who have both come close to winning stages in this year’s race.