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Welcome back to Cyclingnews for live coverage of stage four at this year's Santos Tour Down Under. On today's menu is a 149.5km journey from Norwood, in Adelaide's eastern suburbs, to Goolwa, some 80km south of the city. There are two intermediate sprints coming late in the stage whilst the KOM point arrives early, at Fox Creek Rd, Lenswood.
Comments, predictions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org...
We're underway in stage four of the Santos Tour Down Under... there are moderate winds, with temperatures expected to reach the mid-30s today with a cool change predicted later in the day.
Today's stage features a steep climb up Gorge Rd early in the day, which is followed by the KOM up Fox Creek Rd, quite a tough ascent on dead roads in some of Adelaide's prime farming country. I occasionally ride the climb and I can assure you the professionals will be heading up there many times quicker than I'll ever be able to...
No news on the race as yet as the riders make their way through the outer eastern suburbs under neutral conditions. Racing is due to begin any moment now...
The riders have commenced racing on the way up Gorge Rd, which is an difficult place for radio reception, although there are some broken details of an early attack... we'll endeavour to get you more information shortly
Could it be one of the UniSA-Australia riders? Simon Clarke spent much of the latter half of yesterday's stage to Stirling in a break and netted the most aggressive rider's jeresy. He spoke to Cyclingnews and you can catch that chat here.
And yes, it is one of UniSA-Australia's riders - David Kemp has broken away with Olivier Kaisen (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Thomas Rohregger (Milram), Anthony Ravard (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Jonathan Castroviejo (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Two more riders have made their way to the break, although we don't have details as yet. Meanwhile, Olivier Kaisen and Stef Clement of Rabobank are both in the break
Through broken snippets of radio, we can gleam that the break is within sight of the peloton, the early climb up Gorge Rd proving difficult area in which to get away from the peloton
This prediction from Chris: "Timmy Roe will be mixing it up for the KOM points. He knows the roads, he's getting the jersey back, then fireworks tomorrow for the Willunga stage... I think you MIGHT find some Timmy Roe fans out on Saturday..."
Thanks Chris, we reckon Tim has shown what he's capable of and he'll be keen to get that jersey back too.
And a heads up from Alex, who says to look out for a tribute to Arthur Vichot on the Fox Creek climb... More on the Vichot story a little later...
Those two riders who have made their way to the break are Thomas Frei (BMC Racing) and Jonathan Castroviejo (Euskaltel Euskadi) as the break continues on to the KOM
The peloton is closing in on the break as the KOM beckons
Break member Thomas Rohregger (Milram) is the current mountains classification leader and is looking to consolidate that lead today. There's only about three kilometres to wait until we see whether the German rider can take points at Fox Creek Rd
Rohregger gets the points...
There was a group behind the German that included Thomas Frei and the rest of the members of that break, which has obviously broken up as it went over the KOM
About two minutes seconds after Rogregger passed the KOM, the peloton came through led by HTC-Columbia. We're getting news that David Kemp came second on the climb, followed by Stef Clement
A time check on the gap between Rohregger and the peloton? 2:28...
We have another time check on the break's advantage - 3:15
Whilst his teammate Olivier Kaisen is in the break, Jurgen Roelandts is Omega Pharma-Lotto's sprinter for today's stage. He told Cyclingnews this morning that, he's feeling good and he'll try again for the sprint today in an attempt to move up a few places overall.
The break has 2:15 on the peloton, as it makes its way through Woodside, amidst some of the Adelaide Hills' best orchards. Apples produced here are particularly good, the cooler environment and suitable soil creating great conditions for growing varieties such as red delicious, fuji and pink lady apples...
Some observations from Simon: "Really hope it's someone other than Andre. Nothing against him but one guy dominating takes away a bit. Also, really hoping that they can somehow blow it to bits tomorrow on Willunga but it's not long enough.
I'd like to see a hilltop finish on Greenhill Rd next year for a change, although a stage like that could be the single stage that decides which climber wins the whole event. Maybe even then it's not decisive enough... Anyway, it seems to be working well enough as it is..."
Thanks Simon - I agree on all of the points you raise. I recently asked race director Mike Turtur about Greenhill Rd and he told me the logistics to incorporate the climb into the stage make it too difficult use this great piece of road in Adelaide for the race.
And while we're on the subject of climbs, a quick recap of today's KOM results: Thomas Rohregger (Milram), followed by David Kemp (UniSA) and Stef Clement (Rabobank). This means the German rider holds onto the jersey of best climber for another day...
The wind is buffeting riders from the west, and as they head south they'll be copping it as a fairly nasty crosswind. A day for the big teams to bear the burden for their sprinters and keep them fresh for the expected sprint in Goolwa this afternoon
And to demonstrate the scope of Cyclingnews' live coverage, thanks Fred, Markus and Gareth for your email from southern Spain, where it's 3am:
"We are following the race from a villa in South Spain and enjoying the live coverage. Our pick is: 1st - Greipel, 2nd - Robbie Hunter and 3rd - Allan Davis!"
Not a bad prognostic, fellas... Enjoy the coverage, and I'll endeavour to throw you a bit of a scene from the roads I get to enjoy every day.
There's not too much variation in the break's advantage, which now sits at 2:40... On a day like today that's a very small gap. The likes of HTC-Columbia and Team Sky are keeping it right in check as the day's pickings await one of the fast men in Goolwa
On the roads heading to Strathalbyn, there are plenty of exposed sections where the westerly winds can have an impact on the peloton... It's gently rolling farming territory, where beef is produced in addition to lamb and wool.
While the grass is fairly brown out there during the summer, in winter the paddocks are transformed into green fields reminiscent of areas in the Canterbury region of New Zealand - for all you kiwis tuning in this afternoon, a big hello!
The break has an advantage of 2:57 but as soon as the peloton wants to open the throttle - likely to be led by HTC-Columbia, which is heading it up at the moment - the seven riders at the front will be making their way back to the bunch
Our lads in southern Spain have a question for us: "How do you explain Allan Davis's relatively bad performances since the beginning of the tour?"
Well, that's a good question guys... my initial reaction to Alby's poor form in comparison to last year's edition of the Tour Down Under is that he's building to a big push for the win in Milan-Sanremo in March. To be nearing a peak in condition during January means that a sprinter may find it hard to hit another peak in March before aiming for the Giro d'Italia or Tour de France and then the world championships.
Davis will be looking to hit his peaks later in the season, so there's the possibility that defending his Tour Down Under crown may have to take a back seat...
Today's winds - which are blowing at about 25 knots according to our man on the ground, Greg Johnson - won't be so welcome for George Hincapie, who has had a rough time of it in the last few days.
Speaking with one of BMC Racing's mechanics this morning, we learnt that George's accident yesterday was the result of a simple mistake from a rider in front of the US national champion and the rider concerned apologised profusely when Hincapie made it back to the peloton... that's racing, I guess.
Another prediction, this time from São Paulo, Brazil. Marcos would surely be a happy camper after a Portuguese-speaking rider won yesterday's stage. Oi Marcos!
"My pick is: 1st Steegmans, 2nd Henderson, 3rd Greipel
With the first intermediate sprint beckoning, the break has 2:40 on the peloton... What's the betting that the seven riders will contest the two sprint points and shortly after be quickly dragged back into the fray ahead of a bunch kick? About 2 to 1, I reckon...
John has sent us a tweet from Allan Davis, posted 21 hours ago: "Struggling with a chest infection back on the Antibiotics! Hot day at the TDU."
Thanks John! Very handy indeed...
Ahhh, my kiwi friends! We have a prediction from Stu
"How about a - 1 Henderson 2 Julian Dean 3 Roulston
Would definitely help cycling across the ditch!"
Another prediction - this time, an interesting one from Jamie in Adelaide:
(maybe a bit left field to others)
1st L L Sanchez (thought he may have come thru yesterday)
2nd L Roberts (having a excellent consistent tour)
3rd C Evans (on the back of yesterdays effort)"
Race radio has thrown us some love and told us that the gap between the break and the peloton is 1:50... We'll aim to get you results from the first intermediate sprint as soon as possible, folks...
The peloton has decided to turn on the gas, with the gap between break and peloton decreasing to 1:30 ahead of the second intermediate sprint
When it rains, it pours! Now we've got confirmation that Anthony Ravard took the points ahead of David Kemp and Thomas Rohregger
The gap is now 1:10... as the course swings around to the west, the break will get a headwind and the gap will decrease further
The gap sits at 1:15 as some of the teams take on food and drinks before the finale in Goolwa
A big shout out from Cyclingnews to the folks at Cycling Australia... while we're concentrating on the nation's biggest event, the folks in Mascot are keeping Australia's wheels turning, so to speak
Andy from Queensland has a prediction for us:
Surprised that BMC aren't leading out Danilo Wyss as he's pretty quick and has had to come from a long way back to get his results. He's got a big kick in the sprint and if they support him he could podium in a sprint stage.
And the gap has increased to 1:39, although the peloton has been taking on stock to last them the remainder of the stage, so don't expect it to last, fellas!
As the peloton gets ready for the catch, here's another prediction, this time from Jeremy in 'steamy northern New South Wales':
"Today will stay the same on GC; Andre to win another stage from Baden Cooke and fireworks on Saturday with Alejandro Valverde to go for the overall!"
Now here's a special kinda prediction from a reader:
"My predictions are Lance wins stage 5 and the tour!"
Pretty out there... but he's been riding very well!
With 500m separating the peloton and the break, the gap is at 49 seconds and closing rapidly. Get ready for some big team riding from the HTC-Columbia and Sky trains! These guys are gonna cut loose in the final 30km and unload some primed sprinters to the line in Goolwa!
David has a prediction for us:
1. Gert Steegmans – Team RadioShack (I need to get use to saying that)
2. Robbie McEwen
3. Graeme Brown
It is time Team RadioShack made a splash… Robbie McEwen will show off one of these last days… Graeme Brown to deny team HTC and Greipel……..
Thanks for the live coverage!
- I hear you on the Steegmans thing David... it takes a little bit of getting used to!
We haven't got results of the second intermediate sprint but will get them to you as soon as possible...
Having previously spoken about George Hincapie's accident yesterday, the big American told us at the line this morning that he's got a little bit of road rash and is a little sore as a result of the incident but that's all... good news, George!
With a few more teams feeding outside Milang, the gap to the break has increased again to one minute...
Wow! A big addition to the break's advantage - one second! Those predictions have dried up, folks... Keep the love flowing for your biking brother here in Adelaide!
OK, it's time for the remnants of the break to keep the dream alive... David Kemp, Stef Clement and Jonathan Castroviejo have attacked the escape group whilst the other four have sat up and are waiting. Meanwhile, we have results for the second intermediate sprint: Thomas Rohregger beat David Kemp and Thomas Frei
Call me a cynic, but despite the three leading riders getting a gap of 1:27 their days are numbered...
Well, I put it out there and you guys responded! Matt from Melbourne reckons Baden Cooke will beat Robbie MCEwen and Gert Steegmans in the finale, whilst Seth in Chicago is going for Greipel to get another stage ahead of Greg Henderson and and Steegmans
Meanwhile, David in Adelaide is going for McEwen, ahead of Steegmans and Brown whilst Mark in Perth has Robbie Hunter up for the win in front of McEwen and Henderson
Alright folks, we're inside the final 20km and the gap to the three leading riders is 49 seconds... almost time to say adios to the trio putting their noses in the south-westerly wind
Wim Van Vlierberghe from Belgian-Dutch website WVcycling.com reckons Greg Henderson will get the win over André Greipel and Robbie McEwen but adds "I would like to see McEwen or one of our Belgians celebrating." Nice work, Wim!
The gap has decreased to just 27 seconds as Yuriy Krivtsov (Ag2R La Mondiale) attacks the peloton
Stef Clement is solo out front as Gorka Izaguirre (Euskaltel Euskadi) attacks the peloton... time for the desperados!
The race has come together! Time to start setting it up, boys...
As RadioShack gathers at the front of the peloton for Gert Steegmans, Antonio from California is going for Graeme Brown, ahead of Robbie McEwen and Robbie Hunter while Geoffrey Pyman says "I think there are going to be some bloody big flies in Goolwa!"
Paul in Canverra has an anecdote to share which may shed some light on the possible stage outcome:
"I recall being luck enough to ride with Navigators back in 2005. The stage finish was very similar to today but in Victor Harbour. LL Sanchez jumped of the front of the break and was followed by Gene Bates and Johan Van Summeren, LL Sanchez went on to take the stage and tour.
So with this in mind, I am going to pick LL Sanchez in a small group containing Cooke, Rogers and Meyer"
Two RadioShack riders go clear as the sprinters' teams are lining out the peloton with about 15km to ride...
Armstrong has attacked! With Tomas Vaitkus!
Armstrong and Vaitkus have 300m on the peloton...
The gap is now 23 seconds... I don't see the break surviving, thanks to what Ian has to say about the finish:
"I know the roads around there pretty well. They are flat and exposed, and ideally suited to powerful teams picking up the opportunist attempted breaks and then the most powerful sprinter winning - especially if there is bit of a headwind."
As the gap is at 18 seconds, Team Sky and HTC-Columbia are chasing hard but Mat Hayman needs a change of front wheel
Matt from Adelaide is going for Graeme Brown for the win, while Stuart from Sydney says 'Don't discount Stuey' - maybe that's a preference based on name, Stuart. But I like ya thinking, nevertheless!
Hayman has rejoined the peloton to aid in Team Sky's train - come on Matty! They'll need him to catch Armstrong and Vaitkus...
Michaël, who is watching our coverage from Belgium, says look out for the Belgians in the sprint - indeed mate, plenty of folks have been predicting Gert Steegmans for the win
The break has been caught! Armstrong and Vaitkus are now back in the peloton and needed to assist Steegmans for the sprint
Nic from Brisbane is going for one of his local lads, Robbie McEwen, for the stage win while Jonathan Nunan (Hi to all the folks at BikeSportz) is looking out for Alejandro Valverde...
RadioShack, Sky and HTC-Columbia are leading the peloton!
Inside the final kilometre!
Time to lay it on the line and go for broke boys!!
Greipel gets ANOTHER win!
It could be Robbie McEwen in third... we'll get you those details soon