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Welcome back to Cyclingnews for live coverage of stage five at this year's Santos Tour Down Under. Today's stage takes us from Snapper Point to Willunga, covering a distance of 148km. There are two intermediate sprints and two batches of KOM points on offer on the summit of Old Willunga Hill, which is covered twice.
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Anthony Roux of Francaise des Jeux has been aggressive early... and has taken several riders with him
Roux has hit out solo and forced the pace, with several riders joining him, including Ludovic Turpin (Ag2R La Mondiale), Matt Wilson (Garmin-Transitions), Martin Kohler (BMC Racing), Mickael Delage (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Micahel Matthews (UniSA)... the move is soon shut down, though...
Who'll make the 'EB'? UniSA has been active in making the early break each day this week, will one of the local boys do it again?
The pace is one as the riders head down towards McLaren Vale, the peloton stretched out as it reacts to early attacks... Rohan Dennis (UniSA) has been particularly active in the opening kilometres
The peloton has splintered and a group of four has gone away, with Michael Matthews (UniSA), Pierre Cazaux (Francaise des Jeux), Serguei Klimov (Katusha) and Anders Lund (Saxo Bank) trying their luck
Tha group has been reconstituted with more riders coming across. We can see that RadioShack's Gert Steegmans is there and Cameron Meyer (Garmin-Transitions) has also joined the break
The early break has been let go. It's composition is: Michael Matthews (UniSA), Ludovic Turpin (Ag2R La Mondiale), Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Cameron Meyer, Matt Wilson (both Garmin-Transitions), David Gutierrez (Footon-Servetto) and Valeriy Dmitryev (Astana)
Our man on the ground, Greg Johnson, told me that Casey Stoner is riding in the Saxo Bank car today. The 2008 MotoGP world champion uses cycling as the basis of his training and is good friends with Stuart O'Grady...
The break has come through the town of Willunga for the first time, followed soon after by the peloton
The time gap is 47 seconds as big Bert Grabsch leads HTC-Columbia on the front of the peloton. It's important for Andre Greipel's teammates to keep a close watch of the break today...
As the riders head out of Willunga, they'll face moderate winds heading along Aldinga Rd, which takes them back to the coast.
The break has pulled out a gap of 1:10 as the riders get closer to the coast.
So we can see that UniSA again made the early break, with Michael Matthews a part of the seven-man group that is riding off the front. This morning, his teammate, Rohan Dennis, told Cyclingnews: "This is all a lot different to riding the national series but I'm really liking it." Although Dennis didn't make the break after trying hard early, team manager Dave Sanders should be happy with his troops
The break is riding along Aldinga beach and is working very well together - regular turns on the front and the speed is excellent. With three Aussies in the move, there are some real drievrs in there
The intermediate sprint beckons in one kilometre...
The first intermediate sprint was won by Valeriy Dmitryev (Astana), followed by Eduard Vorganov (Katusha)
Vorganov was aiming to get himself higher on general classification and now sits behind Greipel by 28 seconds. If he keeps putting in big efforts for bonus seconds, however, he'll be cooked by thehill and won't be much chop in the break later...
The break is now on its second lap, heading towards McLaren Vale... meanwhile, the peloton is approaching the intermediate sprint so the gap must be somewhere around three minutes... we'll endeavour to get confirmation of the gap soon
The gap is 1:55... Sorry guys, I gave you a little bit too much credit, although it's a handy advantage. Keep on working, fellas!
SBS TV presenter Mike Tomalaris says he hopes Cadel Evans or one of the Spanish riders takes the stage today or moves into the overall lead, setting up a thrilling finale tomorrow... It might be a big call, but I'm agreeing with 'Tommo' for the race to come down to the final day!
UniSA rider and breakaway member Michael Matthews is affectionately known as 'Bling' and he's currently riding with a distinct shine amongst some of the world's best. He'sa very strong lad and has been driving the breakaway hard
Well-known TV race commentator Paul Sherwen forgot to take his lunch this morning... here at TDU central we're enjoying the spoils. Sorry Paul, you're going to have to stop by one of the bakeries in the area for a pie, or maybe a pastie...
Here we go folks, our first reader prediction of the day: John Calliott, who gave us a great heads up with Allan Davis' Tweet yesterday, reckons Astana could take its first win of the week today...
The peloton is heading along Tatachilla Road, with HTC-Columbia keeping Bret Grabsch on the front of the bunch in order to maintain watch on the break's progress
The break is heading out of McLaren Vale for the second time and the pace appears to have dropped somewhat, meaning the gap hasn't really increased... a time check coming for you soon...
As the peloton also makes its way through McLaren Vale, it appears as though the gap to the break is still around two minutes... there's been no increase in the escape group's advantage
While the break is still working well together, the initial spring and sting of the group has gone along Main Rd towards Willunga
We have a check on the gap - 1:45. I don't think it will get any bigger than this...
Our 'unofficial' time check confirms the whiteboard man, as the gap sits at 1:45
Thre break comes through the feed zone in Willunga - they've done 62.5km already...
The peloton has gone through the feed zone, with the break sitting at 1:40 ahead of the bunch. The septet continues to work well together but in reality these guys will have to make do with grabbing a few points and bonus seconds...
So, as we look towards the first ascent of Old Willunga Hill, it's a chance to take a peek at our feature on the hill that makes such a stir. We rode the fifth stage - now being ridden by the pros - to get a feeling of what to expect from the Tour Down Under's penultimate day
It's a great return to the top level for Garmin-Transitions Matt Wilson. The 2004 Australian national champion and former Francaise des Jeux rider has experienced a few lean years but looks like he's making the most of his chance to ride the ProTour in 2010. Directeur sportif Matt White will be happy to have two of his boys in the break
Tiago from Portugal has given us his predictions for today's stage:
"BMC and Caisse d'Epargne, together, will blow up Greipel and Columbia at Willunga Hill, then Luis Leon Sanchez first, Valverde second, Evans third..."
That's ambitious Tiago, but I like your thinking...
Speaking of Old Willunga Hill, Team Milram's Luke Roberts told Cyclingnews earlier in the week:
"Two years ago I rode with Allan Davis in the UniSA team and we won it going over Willunga Hill once. I waited with Allan - I just rode the tempo he could handle - and I think there were 15 or 20 guys who went over in front of us. Our team rode Allan back on along the top but unfortunately Greipel stayed with us as there were about 20 guys who made up our group.
"If Davis and Greipel are both in the second group this year, it will be interesting to see how Allan's form is and whether he can go over twice in the group. The same applies to André.
It depends on how it's raced; normally, if you go over Willunga once you come in there [to the hill] like a sprint finish and it's just a case of going hard from the bottom. Some guys could be intimidated by going over it twice - they could come in and ride it fairly easily the first time. Our team won't be doing that - we want to come in there giving it everything.
"The year Pat Jonker won Ben Day won the stage after he slipped away late in the day. There's often a lot of wind in that stage and after Willunga Hill, with everyone fighting to come back to a group, everyone's seeing red in the last 10 kilometres and looking for the finish line, it's a tough last five kilometres - there's wind and a slow drag uphill.
"If someone's really got something left then there's a good chance to go away there but you've really got to have quite a bit left in the tank to be able to do it. If you attack and don't have the legs, there's not much chance of staying in the group after that."
The break is heading along the Esplanade, with 77.5km ridden, there's three kilometres before the second intermediate sprint and the gap hasn't moved very much. We'll get you a time check soon, official or unofficial
It looks like the second intermediate sprint is won by Eduard Vorganov (Katusha) ahead of Valeriy Dmitryev (Astana), although we'll bring you the official results soon
The peloton is making its way along the coast for the last time today, turning right at Port Willunga as the break goes through Aldinga...
We've got another check on the time between the peloton and the break, with 1:40 separating the two groups - HTC-Columbia ain't gonna budge off the front of the bigger group, which is being controlled by Allan Peiper's men
And guess what... it's Bert Grabsch leading his teammates on the front of the peloton
Speaking of Grabsch, HTC-Columbia directeur sportif Allan Peiper told journalists on Monday that during a time trial last season the big German rode a 58x11 gear to take back precious seconds. He regained the lead, pegging back over 25 seconds over the final half of his ride. No wonder he's been seen on the front of the peloton most of this week...
As the break makes its way to Old Willunga Hill, we can tell you that Matt Lloyd will be looking for the moves on the climb this afternoon, telling Cyclingnews this morning that, "I'll follow a small move but won't be attacking [on Willunga Hill]." He is usually one of the protagonists to watch on the climb and his smooth, fluid style is wonderful to watch as he takes on the slopes of the Tour Down Under's best-known climb
There are several Milram riders making their way up to HTC-Columbia at the front of the peloton as it heads to McLaren Vale. After passing through the town the smack will go down. Luke Roberts knows this and will want to be amongst the leaders...
Meanwhile, the break is coming into McLaren Vale
The break is leaving McLaren Vale as the peloton comes into the town, and it looks like the gap has been lowered...
Astana has Valeriy Dmitryev in the break, but one man who wasn't going to be in an escape group is Oscar Pereiro. The 2006 Tour de France champion told Cyclingnews: "There'll be nothing from me today... we will try and pop a top 10 on general classification though."
The break is now on Main Rd, just outside of Willunga; there doesn't appear to be too much wind along the dead straight piece of road but what's certain is that the peloton behind will be starting to twist the throttle very soon
The break is crossing the finishing line as it's about to head up the hill for the first time. Time check is at 2:17...
The peloton is now entering Willunga
The gap is now 1:45
There's every chance the break could be caught at the top of the climb... It's a tough ascent for a small group against the strength of the peloton, still driven by HTC-Columbia
Cam Meyer is drivig the break up the climb... come on son!
Thomas Rohregger has hit out and has caught the break!
Rohregger has driven straight past the break!
Valeriy Dmitryev (Astana) gets the maximum KOM points ahead of Thomas Rohregger (Milram)
The break's days are numbered, if not already over... the peloton is now ridig along the ridge before Range Rd and the drop down Penny's Lane Rd
There's 17 seconds between the break and the peloton, as Caisse d'Epargne is driving the main group
As the break looks like being swallowed up, Seth in Chicago says: "I would love to see Valverde win out of a small group today because I love the way he rides, but it's so hard to bet against Greipel so I have to go on him again."
Aditya has asked how long Willunga Hill, and the answer is approximately four kilometres. It raises to about 400m altitude...
Dave from Adelaide says: "I was at the start this morning and Cadel was looking focused and ready for business. I predict he'll test his legs against LL Sanchez and Alejandro, not to mention Lance, on Wilunga Hill, even if it's not for the win today.
Go Cadel (the man looks like he's been cut from stone)!"
The break continues to try its best despite being doomed... David Gutierrez is struggling and hasn't done a turn in a looooong time
The break is dropping down Penny's Lane Rd at speeds hitting close to 90km/h - I rode the descent the other day and was hitting speeds around 85km/h. It's a fun run down!
As we see Cadel Evans in the bunch, the Australian said this morning that, "I think the way Andre and HTC-Clumbia are riding, they'll be very hard to crack."
Thomas Kvist (Quick Step) has hit out solo from the peloton, a brave attempt to bridge to the break... good luck, ol' son
We can see Cadel Evans having a chat with Alejandro Valverde - wonder what they're planning...
Anthony fro Ravena, New York, says:
"Today it is going to be up to be up to the bold to win the race. Without taking a chance, they might as well give Greipel the trophy now. Three teams really have the punch to go for it. BMC, RadioShack, and Caisse d'Epargne.
"The question is, are they going to stare at each other or are they going to start hitting HTC Columbia? They need to start at the bottom of Old Wallunga Hill. If they do, I put Evans as the overall race leader. If not, Greipel will retain the lead, not winning the stage, but still in the leader's jersey."
Thanks Anthony - great observations and I hope the smack really goes down on the second time over Willunga Hill...
Kvist rides over the finishing line for the second time - next time round it's for real! The peloton is still very close behind and in fact he is caught soon after
BMC Racing is sitting on the front at the bottom of the climb, giving Cadel Evans a platform to attack...
The attack from Cadel Evans has splintered the peloton... Francaise des Jeux's Wes Sulzberger is with him too
It's Evans and Sulzberger alone at the front of the race and the world champ is climbing very well!
Evans is towing Sulzberger up the climb with about one kilometre of the acent remaining as Valverde attacks about 500m behind
Evans is now solo off the front with Valverde coming up close behind - he looks behind to see where the Spaniard is
Peter Sagan (Liquigas) is riding with Valverde in pursuit of Evans. The Aussie is trying to break Greipel behind him and although we can't see it, the German may be in trouble...
Sanchez has also made his way to Valverde to form a group of three. They've caught Evans
The smack has gone right down and the four-man break has crested the climb
Valverde, Sanchez and Evans take one, two and three on the second KOM...
The peloton has crested Old Willunga Hill and is chasing the four-man break very hard, with Garmin-Transitions leading the way
We're hearing that Cadel Evans is the leader of the Tour Down Under on the road as Greipel is chasing hard in the bunch behind. He's giving it everythig to preserve his lead
The ridge between Old Willunga Hill and the descent of Penny's Lane Rd is tough, with dead roads and crosswinds making life difficult for a break to succeed, although this quartet is still looking great
With a gap of 37 seconds, Evans is indeed leading overall as HTC-Columbia is DRIVING the peloton very hard
That chat between Evans and Valverde wasn't just about tea and biscuits - or tapas for that matter. As we suspected, it was about an attack on Willunga Hill and that's what has transpired
The leading break is doing in excess of 100km/h down Penny's Lane Rd on the road back to Willunga - an incredible performance from these four men, with Sanchez doing an amazing job of maintaining the pace
With Cadel Evans starting the day 26 seconds behind overall leader Andre Greipel, a gap of 37 seconds would net him the leader's jersey, although we've still got the run down Penny's Hill Rd and McMurtie Rd for the peloton to reel in the leading quartet
There are undoubtedly plenty of Aussie fans out there yelling at their TV sets in support of Cadel Evans - the pedigree group is working well together as it's on the flat and speeding towards Willunga with 33 seconds' advantage
We can't see the peloton behind the leading group and these four men aren't giving up at all - the race overall is at stake
The break passes the five kilometres-to-go in the stage... as it turns left onto Main Rd for the staight run to Willunga
The peloton is turning left onto Main Rd and the gap is 31 seconds
Jens Voigt is helping HTC-Columbia drive the peloton towards the break and the gap is 27 seconds
The break about two kilometres left to ride - will they stay away?
The leading quartet is labouring...
Coming into the final kilometre the break is looking around and the peloton is within sight
It's going to be a sprint... The bunch is almost on them as Sanchez counters his breakaway mates
Sanchez's attack has worked! He wins the stage!!!
Big hugs for Luis Leon Sanchez as a very late counter attack has netted him the stage win at the Tour Down Under