Although Cadel Evans’ solo win means that the Dutchman is now further away from the overall lead – he now lies 29 seconds off the ochre jersey – Gesink remains upbeat about his chances of landing a significant result in his first race of the 2014 season.
"It's looking good for now," Gesink told De Telegraaf. "I feel good and I’m in the mix. There are still things possible.”
The finale of Wednesday’s stage saw the Tour Down Under peloton hit the first major obstacle of the race, the stiff climb of Corkscrew Hill. Gesink praised his Belkin teammates for helping to guide him towards the business end of the peloton at the base of the climb.
"It was very hectic towards the start of the Corkscrew Road. That long lead-out up to the foot of the climb was very dangerous but in the end we were there,” Gesink said. “The team is doing a great job for me here. They did everything to get me in the right place at the right time."
In spite of that positioning, however, Gesink admitted that he was simply unable to match the rhythm imposed by his Australian rivals of the climb proper. When Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge), Richie Porte (Sky) and eventual winner Cadel Evans forced the issue on Corkscrew Hill, Gesink opted not to follow and instead maintained his own tempo.
“My heart rate was very high at point and when Gerrans attacked again, it was too much. The guys rode a very high pace on the climb and I just couldn't follow,” Gesink said.
Gesink finished the stage in the chase group, 15 seconds behind Evans, and he now lies 29 seconds down on the Australian in fifth place overall. The high temperatures around Adelaide have already taken their toll on the Tour Down Under peloton, and Gesink believes that there could yet be a significant shake-up of the general classification picture on the race’s lone summit finish, at Willunga Hill on the penultimate day.
"I feel okay but it was very hot again today. It was a tough stage but we are one stage further again now. I am fifth in the overall now and I think there are still a lot of things possible,” Gesink said.
“Willunga Hill is another day and I am well-positioned at the moment. An uphill finish is always something different so I am curious to see what happens. It's a very high quality field and I am very happy with the way I’m riding here. A podium place is still my goal for this race."
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