Ahead of the decisive two stages of the Santos Tour Down Under, WorldTour neophyte GreenEdge has two riders within striking distance of the general classification lead: Simon Gerrans and defending champion Cameron Meyer.
Thursday's fourth stage to Tanunda has the potential to see several splits form in the peloton with two categorised climbs on a lumpy 130-kilometre parcours, including the Cat. 1 Menglers Hill late in the day which traditionally is the scene for a major break but with its late occurrence in 2012, could have a major bearing ahead of Saturday's queen stage.
"You just have to be on high alert," GreenEdge sports director Matt White said following stage 3 in Victor Harbour. "You just have to be present in all the breakaways. But we have riders who can cover that and we have two of the best top 10 climbers here [Gerrans and Meyer], so it's all good."
Leading into stage 4, Gerrans is 16 seconds back on the ochre jersey of Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) who many believe still has the potential to be competitive given his form despite the fact that it's not a day for the sprinters. Meyer is 20 seconds in arrears.
"There are a few guys who are waiting to pounce like we are in the next two stages," said the 2011 overall winner.
Griepel told reporters following his stage 3 win that he wouldn't have the climbing legs on Willunga to be a contender for the final general classification on Sunday. At this point, White agrees.
"Andre has to win nearly every sprint to win it [the Tour]," he said. "He is definitely the fastest guy here, but Willunga is a different story all together.
"The race isn't finished yet and we're pretty confident we can podium in the tour on the classification.
"We're very happy. You wouldn't want the ochre jersey this early in the proceedings."
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As a sports journalist and producer since 1997, Jane has covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games, rugby league, motorsport, cricket, surfing, triathlon, rugby union, and golf for print, radio, television and online. However her enduring passion has been cycling.
Jane is a former Australian Editor of Cyclingnews from 2011 to 2013 and continues to freelance within the cycling industry.
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