Swift shifts into top gear

Robbie McEwen predicted mayhem at today's stage of the Santos Tour Down Under and he benefited from the ensuing madness, taking second behind Ben Swift and assuming the overall lead of this year's edition.

Two crashes within the final three kilometres put paid to HTC-Highroad chances of securing back-to-back stage victories, as Mark Cavendish (who required several stitches after falling) and erstwhile leader Matt Goss found themselves on the receiving end of a chaotic finale.

And unlike the Cancer Council Classic on Sunday, Team Sky managed to successfully change tack, despite having one of its fancied riders fall victim to a last-minute mishap as Ben Swift claimed his first ProTour victory.

"I can't believe it. There was just a pile up... it was carnage in the end," said Swift. "The first crash we lost our sprinter, two riders fell in front of him. I jumped with 200m to go. Robbie [McEwen] tried to get the jump on me, I felt brilliant.

"I was on the wheel of Mat Hayman and he knows how to avoid the crashes; I felt so comfortable following him. Unfortunately one of our guys did crash like I said, but I could just pick one of the other guys. Hopefully we can get another win. It is great to get the first win of the year. I will just have to keep the ball rolling."

The Briton moved into third overall with his win, sitting on the same time as overall leader Robbie McEwen, who is getting stronger as the race continues and may have his best shot at the title in what could be his last year as a professional.

The man who finished behind him today, Graeme Brown, managed to take the last podium spot in Mannum despite suffering a slowdown of sorts in the first of the afternoon's crashes. "The one [crash] at the top of the hill, just where we turn left my team mate actually crashed right in front of me, and I was caught up in the mix and I was off the road," said Brown.

"I had to come back through the bunch again and then the one [crash] at the finish I didn't even know about - I just spoke to Geraint Thomas about it and he said he just got hit from behind at 200m to go."

That accident just 200 metres from the line involved Cameron Meyer, who was able to maintain some stoicism after falling heavily whilst helping leadout teammate Tyler Farrar. "Three years I've done this tour and I've come down each year, so I'm starting to get used to it now," he quipped.

"I was in that last crash, at the 150m to go, and there was a pile up and I had nowhere to go. I went straight over the handlebars, ran up the back of some people. I mean I guess that's how it goes. It was always going to be tight with so many sprinters and lead out men and its going to get pretty fast when going into the finishes."

Krivtsov provides the calm before the storm

The day's main break was initiated some 18km into the stage by Ag2R-La Mondiale's Yuriy Krivtsov, who took the most aggressive rider prize for his efforts in a move that gained 4:20 at its zenith.

Joined by Saxo Bank's David Tanner and UniSA rider Mitchell Docker, the trio spent most of the day off the front and contested the KOM and intermediate sprint points ahead of anyone else. Behind them, Luke Roberts secured his position as mountains classification leader - a title he could well claim in Adelaide on Sunday.

"At the start of the stage I wanted to get into the break, but I didn't think it would be possible but there was one guy up the road and I sort have just rolled off the front and next thing I knew the peloton just let me go so I was wrapped," said Docker after the stage.

"It was a pity though, because I did feel it from yesterday and in the sprints I didn't do as well as I hoped. I only got third and second but it's still better than not getting anything at all and it was another tough day so I'm going to be feeling it tomorrow."

Joined by Simon Zahner and Tim Roe of BMC Racing plus Roberts, the late-stage sextet managed a lead of a minute but that soon evaporated; before that point Roe attacked, going on a solo spree that again demonstrated - after his efforts on the first day of last year's Tour Down Under - that he's an immensely talented young rider.

"I was going a bit quicker than I was last year, but I thought we were up the road and the opportunity was there so I might as well have a go; my legs were good, so I thought I might as well give it a crack," said Roe afterwards.

He was caught just eight kilometres from the finish and explained: "I was pretty sure we were going to get caught, but I thought I might as well give it a crack, and on the climb, I just had it in a big gear and just kept it there - I just ended up riding away from everyone."


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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Ben Swift (GBr) Sky Procycling3:27:44
2Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Radio ShackRow 1 - Cell 2
3Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 2 - Cell 2
4Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 3 - Cell 2
5Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 4 - Cell 2
6Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Quick Step Cycling TeamRow 5 - Cell 2
7Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 6 - Cell 2
8Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Katusha TeamRow 7 - Cell 2
9Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 8 - Cell 2
10Allan Davis (Aus) AstanaRow 9 - Cell 2
11Kristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La MondialeRow 10 - Cell 2
12Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 11 - Cell 2
13Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 12 - Cell 2
14Mark Renshaw (Aus) HTC-HighroadRow 13 - Cell 2
15Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 14 - Cell 2
16Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) UNI SA - AustraliaRow 15 - Cell 2
17Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Katusha TeamRow 16 - Cell 2
18Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) UNI SA - AustraliaRow 17 - Cell 2
19Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 18 - Cell 2
20Greg Henderson (NZl) Sky ProcyclingRow 19 - Cell 2
21Davide Vigano (Ita) Leopard TrekRow 20 - Cell 2
22Inaki Isasi (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 21 - Cell 2
23Luke Roberts (Aus) UNI SA - AustraliaRow 22 - Cell 2
24Ruben Perez (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 23 - Cell 2
25Francesco Reda (Ita) Quick Step Cycling TeamRow 24 - Cell 2
26Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 25 - Cell 2
27Elia Viviani (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 26 - Cell 2
28Ivan Velasco (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 27 - Cell 2
29Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 28 - Cell 2
30Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank SungardRow 29 - Cell 2
31Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 30 - Cell 2
32Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 31 - Cell 2
33Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Quick Step Cycling TeamRow 32 - Cell 2
34Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 33 - Cell 2
35Steve Houanard (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 34 - Cell 2
36Davide Cimolai (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 35 - Cell 2
37Yuriy Krivtsov (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 36 - Cell 2
38Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha TeamRow 37 - Cell 2
39Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 38 - Cell 2
40Simone Ponzi (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 39 - Cell 2
41Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky ProcyclingRow 40 - Cell 2
42Lance Armstrong (USA) Team Radio ShackRow 41 - Cell 2
43Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 42 - Cell 2
44Davide Malacarne (Ita) Quick Step Cycling TeamRow 43 - Cell 2
45Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing TeamRow 44 - Cell 2
46Bruno Pires (Por) Leopard TrekRow 45 - Cell 2
47Matthew Goss (Aus) HTC-HighroadRow 46 - Cell 2
48Luis Pasamontes (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 47 - Cell 2
49Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Leopard TrekRow 48 - Cell 2
50Alberto Ongarato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 49 - Cell 2
51Tom Leezer (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 50 - Cell 2
52Miguel Minguez (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 51 - Cell 2
53Robbie Hunter (RSA) Team Radio ShackRow 52 - Cell 2
54Andriy Grivko (Ukr) AstanaRow 53 - Cell 2
55Gregory Rast (Swi) Team Radio ShackRow 54 - Cell 2
56Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 55 - Cell 2
57Nicki Sörensen (Den) Saxo Bank SungardRow 56 - Cell 2
58Yevgeniy Nepomnyachshiy (Kaz) AstanaRow 57 - Cell 2
59Julien Vermote (Bel) Quick Step Cycling TeamRow 58 - Cell 2
60Juan Horrach (Spa) Katusha TeamRow 59 - Cell 2
61Mitchell Docker (Aus) UNI SA - AustraliaRow 60 - Cell 2
62David Lopez (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 61 - Cell 2
63Simon Gerrans (Aus) Sky ProcyclingRow 62 - Cell 2
64Maxim Gourov (Kaz) AstanaRow 63 - Cell 2
65Tanel Kangert (Est) AstanaRow 64 - Cell 2
66Hayden Roulston (NZl) HTC-HighroadRow 65 - Cell 2
67Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Katusha TeamRow 66 - Cell 2
68Cameron Wurf (Aus) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 67 - Cell 2
69Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 68 - Cell 2
70Julien Loubet (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 69 - Cell 2
71Manuel Cardoso (Por) Team Radio ShackRow 70 - Cell 2
72Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Katusha TeamRow 71 - Cell 2
73Mathieu Perget (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 72 - Cell 2
74Alan Marangoni (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 73 - Cell 2
75Vicente Reynes (Spa) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 74 - Cell 2
76André Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 75 - Cell 2
77Angel Madrazo (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 76 - Cell 2
78Daniel Sesma (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 77 - Cell 2
79Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Katusha TeamRow 78 - Cell 2
80Marco Bandiera (Ita) Quick Step Cycling TeamRow 79 - Cell 2
81Joost Van Leijen (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 80 - Cell 2
82Alfredo Balloni (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 81 - Cell 2
83Martin Pedersen (Den) Leopard TrekRow 82 - Cell 2
84Aitor Perez Arrieta (Spa) Lampre - ISDRow 83 - Cell 2
85Martin Mortensen (Den) Leopard TrekRow 84 - Cell 2
86Luke Durbridge (Aus) UNI SA - AustraliaRow 85 - Cell 2
87Ben Hermans (Bel) Team Radio ShackRow 86 - Cell 2
88Coen Vermeltfoort (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 87 - Cell 2
89Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Cannondale0:00:22
90Matthew Wilson (Aus) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 89 - Cell 2
91Bert Grabsch (Ger) HTC-HighroadRow 90 - Cell 2
92William Clarke (Aus) Leopard TrekRow 91 - Cell 2
93Adam Hansen (Aus) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 92 - Cell 2
94Richie Porte (Aus) Saxo Bank SungardRow 93 - Cell 2
95David Tanner (Aus) Saxo Bank SungardRow 94 - Cell 2
96Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Lampre - ISDRow 95 - Cell 2
97Addy Engels (Ned) Quick Step Cycling TeamRow 96 - Cell 2
98Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 97 - Cell 2
99Dimitri Champion (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 98 - Cell 2