In a repeat of the finale at last year's Santos Tour Down Under, Team Sky has finished the last stage with two of its riders in first and second place, with Ben Swift saluting the crowd as victor and Greg Henderson behind him.
Sky's train, including Simon Gerrans, Michael Rogers, Mathew Hayman and Geraint Thomas, went to work in the closing kilometres of today's 90km criterium around the north of Adelaide's CBD and delivered both Swift and Henderson into pole position for the sprint.
"Obviously the plan was to try and win the stage and we did... It's great. The boys just came up with the goods. It's fantastic," said Team Sky directeur sportif Sean Yates. "It doesn't always work but if you don't try you don't succeed. They certainly tried and they got it down to a tee.
"We could save our power a bit for the final because we had no interest in going for the bonuses. The advantage was there but you've got to be in it to win it. And they were in it and won it so it's a credit to them."
The reason Team Sky didn't need to go for bonuses is because they were being fought for by HTC-Highroad, which had Matt Goss in contention for overall honours, just eight seconds behind ochre jersey Cameron Meyer at the start of the day.
With a quality team in Garmin-Cervelo defending the overall lead and another powerful outfit in HTC-Highroad aiming to usurp Matt White's men, the battlelines were drawn and the spark were sure to fly.
"My teammates have to take seconds from Matt Goss and hope he doesn't take seconds back," said Meyer before the stage. "There are a few outsiders but Goss is the biggest threat.
"The plan were definitely to go out hard and aggressively, we needed the race to be as hard as possible to put the pressure on HTC and Matt Goss' work men. Matt Wilson was in the break and made them really work towards the first sprint," Meyer explained after securing the overall win.
"Matt Goss had to sprint so it just takes that tolling effect and maybe that's why at the end of the race he could only manage third because the zap had been taken out and that's a credit to my teammates for really putting the bike race under pressure.
"I had so many guys looking after me: Travis, Matt Wilson, Jack Bobridge, Brett Lancaster, Tyler Farrar and Julian Dean were mixing it up in the sprint and obviously I'm not a bunch sprinter so I needed them so much to help me towards getting near the front, making sure there was no time gaps in the end.
"They positioned me perfectly inside the top 20 coming around the last corner; that's a credit to them, they're the ones that put me in this position."
Whilst he was disappointed, Goss remained philosophical about the outcome. "I guess it's a little bit of a disappointment, but it's also not a bad result; the team rode awesome all week and they completely supported me," he said.
"We had a great race and if it wasn't for a couple of mishaps, maybe it would be different; maybe I'd be up on the cockpit but that's bike riding, and second is still a really good result to start the season and we look forward to the next race now."
Last hurrah of the week
After yesterday's stage in Willunga failed to create any decisive time gaps in the overall, this year's Santos Tour Down Under was going down to the wire on the final day, with the top three on general classification - Meyer, Goss and Michael Matthews - separated by 12 seconds.
Virtually from the gun Garmin-Cervelo hit out, with Matthew Wilson getting into the early move of five riders that consisted of the Australian, plus countrymen Stuart O'Grady (LEOpard-Trek) and Luek Durbridge (UniSA-Australia), Dimitri Champion (Ag2R-La Mondiale) and Iñaki Isasi (Euskaltel-Euskadi).
The quintet never gained more than 20 seconds' advantage and was caught after about a third of the 90km race distance. It was then time for Travis Meyer and Brett Lancaster to take turns riding off the front, disrupting the HTC-Highroad rhythm and allowing the sprinters' teams to tuck in behind Allan Peiper's men.
And one of those 'other riders' who benefited from the confusion was Matthews, who took the first intermediate sprint and knocked three seconds off his deficit to Meyer. Goss finished second and edged two seconds closer to the ochre jersey but that's as far as he'd get.
The second intermediate sprint was won by Jos van Emden (Rabobank), followed by teammate Tom Leezer and Astana's Allan Davis, the 2009 Tour Down Under champion.
With the final sprint an all-or-nothing affair for Goss, Team Sky organised itself just three kilometres from the finish and brought the aforementioned Gerrans, Rogers, Hayman and Thomas into play. From there it was time for Henderson and Swift to shine and after a week of mixed fortunes that included chaos, crashes and success, Yates' men finished with the latter to demonstrate that they'll be a force in 2011.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Ben Swift (GBr) Sky Procycling||1:53:47|
|2||Greg Henderson (NZl) Sky Procycling||Row 1 - Cell 2|
|3||Matthew Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad||Row 2 - Cell 2|
|4||Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Radio Shack||Row 3 - Cell 2|
|5||Juan José Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank Sungard||Row 4 - Cell 2|
|6||Allan Davis (Aus) Astana||Row 5 - Cell 2|
|7||André Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto||Row 6 - Cell 2|
|8||Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team||Row 7 - Cell 2|
|9||Davide Vigano (Ita) Leopard Trek||Row 8 - Cell 2|
|10||Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) UNI SA - Australia||Row 9 - Cell 2|
|11||Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team||Row 10 - Cell 2|
|12||Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 11 - Cell 2|
|13||Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Katusha Team||Row 12 - Cell 2|
|14||Tyler Farrar (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo||Row 13 - Cell 2|
|15||Elia Viviani (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale||Row 14 - Cell 2|
|16||Mark Renshaw (Aus) HTC-Highroad||Row 15 - Cell 2|
|17||Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre - ISD||Row 16 - Cell 2|
|18||Luke Roberts (Aus) UNI SA - Australia||Row 17 - Cell 2|
|19||Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale||Row 18 - Cell 2|
|20||Cameron Meyer (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo||Row 19 - Cell 2|
|21||Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team||Row 20 - Cell 2|
|22||Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi||Row 21 - Cell 2|
|23||Kristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 22 - Cell 2|
|24||Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 23 - Cell 2|
|25||Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 24 - Cell 2|
|26||Robbie Hunter (RSA) Team Radio Shack||Row 25 - Cell 2|
|27||Ruben Perez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi||Row 26 - Cell 2|
|28||Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Katusha Team||Row 27 - Cell 2|
|29||Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team||Row 28 - Cell 2|
|30||Aitor Perez Arrieta (Spa) Lampre - ISD||Row 29 - Cell 2|
|31||Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 30 - Cell 2|
|32||Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team||Row 31 - Cell 2|
|33||Addy Engels (Ned) Quick Step Cycling Team||Row 32 - Cell 2|
|34||Luis Pasamontes (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 33 - Cell 2|
|35||Julian Dean (NZl) Team Garmin-Cervelo||Row 34 - Cell 2|
|36||Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Quick Step Cycling Team||Row 35 - Cell 2|
|37||Simone Ponzi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale||Row 36 - Cell 2|
|38||Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank Sungard||Row 37 - Cell 2|
|39||Manuel Cardoso (Por) Team Radio Shack||Row 38 - Cell 2|
|40||Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Katusha Team||0:00:07|