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Santos Tour Down Under 2013: Stage 5


Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of Stage 5 at the Santos Tour Down Under. Today's stage begins in McLaren Vale and finishes with a hill-top finish at Old Willunga Hill. I'm Alex Malone and I'll be calling today's stage as the riders tackle what is set to be the deciding stage of this year's race. The general classification is still wide open with a large group of riders who could potentially take the 2013 title. Can Geraint Thomas and his Sky team control the race and keep its leader in the ocre jersey? In a few hours we will know the answer.    

Good morning and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Santos Tour Down. We are less than 10 minutes away from the start of Stage 5 from McLaren Vale to Willunga – a route travelling passed picturesque beaches and stunning wineries.


Unfortunately it is not the greatest day for a few of the riders involved in yesterday's crash that occurred inside the final few kilometres. One of those not lining up this morning is Daryl Impey (Orica GreenEdge)...


RT @darylimpey: Gutted not to be there with the boys today. Hope they pull off the win in the next 2 stages. Season still long, time to recover properly

@Orica_GreenEDGE Fri, 25th Jan 2013 23:29:15

Today's race has an official start time of 1110 (CST) but there's plenty to cover before the race is underway.


US road champion Timmy Duggan (Saxo-Tinkoff) is one of the other riders recovering from a fall earlier in the week. Team director Fabrizio Guidi gave Cyclingnews an update on his condition prior to yesterday's stage but there is more bad news...

Update from the hospital: Good news: No more catheter! Bad News: tibial plateau fracture will put me out for 3 months.

@timmydugganUSA Fri, 25th Jan 2013 23:29:45

It's Australia Day today and that could stir the local riders into achieving the first stage victory of this year's race. The general classification is all but lost for most of the pre-race Aussie favourites but there's plenty still to race for on this day of celebration.


We are just a couple of minutes away from the start of Stage 5. 


Australian road champ Luke Dubridge is on the front line. Looks like he could be going in the breakaway today.


Australian road champ Luke Durbridge is on the front line. Looks like he could be going in the breakaway today.


All the riders are signed on and the race is under neutral conditions – for all of 500m. Who's willing to go out on the attack and force the Sky team to work early and put its leader Geraint Thomas under pressure?


All the riders are signed on and the race is under neutral conditions – for all of 500m. Who's willing to go out on the attack and force the Sky team to work early and put its leader Geraint Thomas under pressure?


The flag has dropped and the race in underway. The first intermediate sprint comes at 63.4km.


Looks like everyone wants to be in the breakaway. There's 129 riders in the bunch today after Daryl Impey did not start the stage.


There's plenty of early action as a number of teams will be hoping to put riders up the road for later in the stage.


Will Clarke was at it again. He was disappointed to miss out on getting the most aggressive rider award after being on the attack for two consecutive days


147km remaining from 151km

The finishing laps around Old Willunga Hill is where the real action will take place. The question is whether current race leader Geraint Thomas (Sky) can retain his slender lead in the general classification.


A group of 10 riders had opened up a 200m gap over the peloton. Durbridge was in the move. Lining up at the front wan't a coincidence. It's now all back together.

While the break attempts to establish itself, he's a quick re-cap of the general classification

1. Geraint Thomas (Sky)
2. Tom-Jelte Slagter (Blanco) @ 0:05
3. Javier Moreno (Movistar) 0:06
4. Ben Hermans (RadioShack Leopard) 0:08
5. Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 0:15
6. Ion Izagirre ( Euskaltel-Euskadi)
7. Jack Bauer (Garmin Sharp)
8. Tiago Machado (RadioShack Leopard)
9. Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol)
10. George Bennett (RadioShack Leopard)


141km remaining from 151km

If Thomas rides like he did up Corkscrew Road there are few who will challenge for the stage win or ocre jersey. His team has shown its got the strength to control the race but with everything at stake today, expect the peloton to be giving everything to break Sky's grip on the race.


The bunch is really speeding along this morning. Five riders trying to get away. Astana's Maxim Iglinsky is in there with about 11 others.


Thomas de Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM), Matt Goss (Orica GreenEdge), Martin Kohler (BMC), Iglinsky, Jack Bobridge (Blanco) are all in there. The 10-rider break has about 300m on the bunch.


Too many strong riders in that group. About to be caught.


This is the day that should determine the overall winner of the Down Under title and with the hilltop finish atop Old Willunga, it will be a most deserving victor. It may take a while before the right combination is allowed some freedom out front.


Last year we witnessed Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge) fall short of the stage win at Willunga by the slimmest of margins but it was enough to move him into the lead ahead. He wore the ocre jersey into the final stage around Adelaide city. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won atop Old Willunga and the two were separated only on count-back. This year's race sees the GC extremely open. A time bonus could decide the title winner. So who will it be?


133km remaining from 151km

Eight riders trying to get away with three in pursuit. The bunch have spread out across the road. This could be the day's move. Simon Clarke (Orica GreenEdge) and Zak Dempster (UniSA) are amongst the three chasers.


Team Sky has moved to the front with Ian Stannard trying to bring it back. The chasing three will need to bridge the gap soon to have any chance of surviving.


129km remaining from 151km

It's a cooler day today but as always, the Adelaide sun has some bite. Temperatures are predicted to reach around 25 degrees but that could easily rise to the 30s.


Adam Hansen is the best-placed Australian in the race. He's sitting in 9th at 0:15. He's hoping to maintain his place in the top-10.

"I hope to [hang on to top-10]. I’m climbing well and the climb’s good for me bring a head wind.
We’ve got a very good team. We always stick together and help each other.
[The focus is] more on me because Tim’s lost a bit on GC but he’s going to be very important for me to get over the climb the first time. He’ll be up there at the top and he’ll protect me when the other team’s put it in the gutter because for sure there will be a cross wind at the top and they’ll try and split it up."


Sky are really not interested in letting a big group get away today. The wan't to save some energy for Old Willunga.


126km remaining from 151km

The group of seven have established a lead of 25 seconds over the peloton. There's two riders from Vacansoleil-DCM in the move with 2012 Giro d'Italia stage winner and third-overall Thomas de Gendt looking for stage glory.


123km remaining from 151km

Sky calling for a nature break. That means the group will be allowed to extend their lead.


Calvin Watson is in the move today. He most recently won the Jayco Herald Sun Tour and earned his position on the UniSA - Australia team for Tour Down Under. The overall win was not the only reason to celebrate - it was also his birthday.


Calvin Watson is in the move today. He most recently won the Jayco Herald Sun Tour and earned his position on the UniSA - Australia team for Tour Down Under. The overall win was not the only reason to celebrate - it was also his birthday.


121km remaining from 151km

The quick stop by the peloton was just what the break needed today. Their lead is over two minutes. Team Sky will hope for a little bit of assistance in controlling the break today.


119km remaining from 151km

The break is working well together and have pushed the advantage to nearly three minutes. De Gendt is in the move and poses no real threat to the general classification at 3:11. He was involved in the crash on Stage 2 on the descent after the Corkscrew Road climb. He details the crash in this video 


Calvin Watson made the move today but the UniSA team were very active as usual this morning. Yesterday it was Damien Howson who made the two-man move with world champion Philippe Gilbert and spoke to Cyclingnews ahead of the start.

"All of us will just be towards the front at the start of the race to see who gets in that move because it can be unpredictable. I think Adam Phelan’s looking towards the break today, he hasn’t been in one this week so far.
Even once we crossed the finish line there were thousands of people there to cheer us on. It was a great day being in the break with a world champion, and an idol of mine ever since i started the sport. A day to remember and it was very special."


Sky are on the front on the bunch but there's also a rider from Blanco in the line. They will be hoping their team leader Tom-Jelte Slagter can push Geraint Thomas from the top step. He's confirmed his talent at Down Under this year and is putting a big focus on the Ardennes Classics later in the season.


David Tanner suggested the team wouldn't be placing a rider in the breakaway today. It's all about supporting Slagter towards the final ascent up Old Willunga.

"TJ (Slagter) is in a good position. We have confidence in him," he told Cyclingnews.

"I doubt that we need to have a Blanco rider in the breakaway, unless 50 guys go up the road. We think that in a man-to-man fight up the hill, TJ can beat Geraint Thomas but we don’t want to have a tight situation where we’d be fighting for bonus sprints tomorrow. We want to secure the overall win today. Personally, I’m meant to be with TJ in the second time climbing Willunga Hill."


107km remaining from 151km

Slagter's teammate Maarten Tjallingii was hoping the Sky team have a similar idea to Blanco today:

"Our job for the day is just to keep the guys in front and get them in front at the right moment. Hopefully Sky is going to have a little bit of the same idea as we have otherwise we’ll have a tough job today but hopefully we can pull it off.

"I’d heard a lot about Willunga and I’d also felt a lot already because we did a lot of efforts. It’s pretty tough and I think it’s too tough for me but we have two guys who are really capable of kicking up ther and show some good things. I hope we can grab the lead today."


106km remaining from 151km

Not much has been said about the two riders from Euskaltel-Euskadi but the Izagirre brothers are just 0:15 behind Geraint Thomas. The team is looking after them toward the front of the bunch, keeping them out of trouble and protected from the wind.


Miss yesterday's Stage 4 highlights? Here's what Phil Anderson had to say about the stage that was marred by a number of crashes in the finale and how Old Willunga could decide the race.


105km remaining from 151km

Absent from the breakaway today Garmin Sharp. They will be looking after Jack Bauer who is also in contention for a high-place finish. His teammate Tyler Farrar was amongst the crash victims yesterday but was feeling ok heading into the race this morning.

"Yeah I don’t know what to say. It’s the first race of the year and everybody’s nervous and crashes happen."

Can he help out much today? "We’ll see how I feel. It wasn’t a bad crash, i just got hung up. No real injuries. We want to try and keep Jack in the top 10 and pick up the points so I’ll do everything I can to put him into position for the climb and then hope he has the legs.

Another rider to watch is young neo-pro Lachlan Morton @ 1:02 behind Thomas. But can he compete with the top contenders?

"We’ll see how he goes. We have a couple of good guys for the hills so hopefully it works out."


98km remaining from 151km

Not sure who Lachlan Morton is? Cyclingnews asked him a few questions earlier in the week.

Class of 2013: 10 Questions with Lachlan Morton


The Lampre-Merida team has had a number of riders go down in crashes. Daniele Pietropollo is only 15 seconds behind the race leader but he's not so confident ahead of the climbs up Old Willunga.

"Before yesterday I was confident that I could make the top 10 overall but after the crash I got involved in, I don’t know. I’ve got bruises on both arms and legs. I just hope I’ll be fine for racing today."


92km remaining from 151km

There's less than 5km until the day's first intermediate sprint but none of them feature amongst the sprint jersey contenders. They'll sprint it out anyway no doubt.


Getting back to the wind around Willunga and last year's action remember how big the group was that went over the top on the first ascent? Well, by the bottom RadioShack, Lotto and BMC took advantage of the crosswinds and reduced the peloton to less than 30 riders. GC contenders will need to be attentive today.


De Gendt takes out the first intermediate sprint at the 63.4km mark. 


Official results from Jayco Sprint #1: De Gendt (Vancansoleil), Boaro (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Mouris (Orica GreenEdge).


82km remaining from 151km

There's clearly no real chase coming from the bunch. The leading seven have over 4 minutes advantage.


RT @AndreGreipel Teambuilding!!!!

@Lotto_Belisol Fri, 25th Jan 2013 09:54:29

Adam Hansen clearly looking to fly up Old Willunga Hill today.


FDJ could also deliver a surprise result today. They have a rider within the group trailing by 15-seconds and another at 0:23. Jussi Veikkanen is in 12th overall but believes his teammate Kenny Elissonde could also finish the day with a good place on GC.

"I already made the mistak of missing the split last year on the first ascent to Willunga Hill, so I know how to avoid that mistake," said Veikkanen.

"My job will be to take Kenny Elissonde with me. He’s a young pure climber. He can do very well today. On stage 2, I could see that he can climb better than me. Whether it’s me or him, we target a top 10 overall. It’s important for WorldTour points for FDJ but also to start the season on a high note and bring a good morale in the team for the next races."


Again rider talking about critical WorldTour points for the coming races. Jack Bauer (Garmin Sharp) explained the importance of car position for some of the early season classics. WorldTour points determine the order of the cars. No one wants to drop back to car 15 when it's in the gutter!


74km remaining from 151km

RadioShack Leopard have decided to help out now. The gaps has been steadily rising and Sky have clearly waited for other teams to come and help on the front.


Laurent Didier is the first RadioShack rider to contribute to the chase. Bernie Eisel has been riding tempo since the break went away. That turn from Didier took away 10 seconds from the bunch to the lead group.


Well here's our first update from Old Willunga. Those not at the front over the top the first time may find themselves in a bit of trouble if teams like Blanco decide to take advantage of the conditions.

@alexjmalone blustery is the right word but it's keeping it cool

@janeaubrey Sat, 26th Jan 2013 02:19:46

Koen de Kort (Argos-Shimano) and Calvin Watson (UniSa) looking very comfortable in the break at the moment.


Omega Pharma - Quick-Step also helping out on the front. They have Serge Pauwels inside the top-20 but he's still 32 seconds behind Thomas.


The break passed through the feed zone a little while ago and they will have plenty of time to rehydrate before the next intermediate sprint. The Jayco Sprint #2 comes at 103.4km.

De Kort is looking to use the Tour Down Under to build up for his spring classics campaign. Doing some "training" in the day's break like world champion Philippe Gilbert did on stage 4?


The bunch is chasing hard now as the gap drops to three minutes. The teams are clearly wanting to make this a tough race for those out front.


Time bonuses have played an important part in this year's race and the finish at Old Willunga will provide plenty to those who finish in the top-3 on the stage. However, the intermediate sprint has 3,2 and 1-second on offer for the first three across the line. Geraint Thomas might have to sprint for this next one.


The gap continues to drop and yet the breakaway has averaged over 49km/h in the last few kilometres. Meanwhile back in the bunch they are doing over 55km/h. No wonder the advantage continues to plummet.


55km remaining from 151km

Astana has been a little quiet this week but there's still one rider in the running to finish high on the standings. Former Vuelta podium finishers Andrey Kashechkin is 32-seconds behind and is looking to crack into the top-ten.

"I think that I’m riding really well these days. We’ll have to see who controls the race. I don’t think that a breakaway will get much advantage. Team Sky should keep the race all together until the climb. I believe 20 riders will stay up there and play for the stage win. Up Willunga Hill, it’s important to be explosive. It’s quite short and it depends who is still fresh at the end of the week. My ambition is to make the top 10."


A sigh of relief would be coming from the riders in the break. The gap is now hovering a little over two minutes. Ideally, they would like to make it to the bottom of the climb with that advantage in hand.


The second sprint is just a couple of kilometres away. They need to keep working together if they have any hope of staying away.

1km to go before the final sprint of the day.


Blanco and RadioShack have upped the speed back in the bunch again. The time gap is going to drop. They are only 1km from the intermediate sprint.


Unofficial result from sprint: De Gendt, Watson and Lodewyck - in that order.


46km remaining from 151km

Bunch getting the chase organised now. The time gap has come down under 2 minutes. Blanco doing plenty of work on the front. 


Official results for Jayco Sprint #2: Marczynski, Watson, De Kort. Always best to wait for the official call.


Graeme Brown was riding at the front for his team leader Slagter. Brown went down hard in the crash yesterday and was nursing his arm across the line. He's been checked out and is ok. Nothing broken.


The bunch is really strung out now as Blanco has nearly the entire team at the front. Didier from RadioShack is still up there and is helping with the pace-setting.


The bunch can see the breakaway ahead on the long straight section of road. It's still Blanco at the front and they are riding to the left side of the road. If you are not at the front right now, there's a good chance it's hurting...a lot.


38km remaining from 151km

The gap is hovering at a little over one minute and the breakaway group will be pushing hard now to maintain it to the bottom of the climb. If they make it with a little gap a number of escapees will surely go backwards. Calvin Watson is still looking good and De Gendt will stay up there. Whether they can make it to the top before being caught seems unlikely.


Blanco were pushing very hard on the front and you could see the pressure in Tom-Jelte Slagter's face. The team is really looking to set him up nicely for the first time up the climb. The big teams will be keeping the pace so high that no one thinks about attacking.


34km remaining from 151km

The break is getting a little frisky now as riders are skipping a few turns. They need to keep the cohesion for a while longer.


Graeme Brown is giving it everything on the front right now. He won't be making it over the top with the leaders today. The Blanco team have plenty of riders in reserve to escort Slagter around for the final ascent. Sky are sitting back for the moment.


The gap to the seven-man break has dropped right down as the peloton approach the first ascent of Old Willunga Hill. Fireworks imminent #TDU

@TeamSky Sat, 26th Jan 2013 03:15:05

119km remaining from 151km

A sign of things to come from Sky Procycling?


32km remaining from 151km

A sign of things to come from Sky Procycling?


There's less than 5km until the break hits the lower part of Old Willunga. Here's what the race leader Geraint Thomas thinks about the finishing climb:

Old Willunga Hill to decide winner of Tour Down Under


Race officials are pulling the cars out of the gap. The catch is imminent. The break will not be happy to see the cars disappear. 


Old Willunga has a Category 1 rating. Jack Bobridge (Blanco) is the current KOM leader but there's 16 points on offer for the first rider over the top. Can Bobridge hold onto the jersey and still look after Slagter?


As suggested, Thomas de Gendt is trying to break free of his companions. They are not letting him go that easily. The bunch however, are now within striking distance. 


There's just four riders at the front now but they won't last much longer. De Gendt and Watson have returned to the bunch.


25km remaining from 151km

One rider away now as Vacansoleil's Marczynski pushes on solo.


24km remaining from 151km

Plenty of riders dropping of the bunch now. Their work is done. Hot meal, hot shower.


The Sky team has come to the front to set the pace. They will want to set a solid pace on the climb to prevent attacks.


Movistar are having none of that. They have put two riders on the front while Marczynski powers along ahead.


23km remaining from 151km

Capecchi and Herrada are the two from Movistar and they have blown past the Vacansoleil rider as he jumps on the back. The bunch is not far behind with Sky in control.


23km remaining from 151km

Not far to the top of the climb now. Mathew Hayman is on the front of the bunch.


Jurgen Roelandts has attacked the bunch and has joined to make a four-rider lead group. Roelandts of course was involved in a huge accident at last year's Tour Down Under. He's clearly arrived in very good condition.


A number of groups have split from the bunch but there's a long way to go before the final ascent up Old Willunga. It will be difficult for them to hold on but another Movistar rider is attempting to get across to the leading quartet.

Andrey Kaashechkin (Astana) and Javier Moreno (Movistar) and attempting to bridge to the front four. Moreno started the day just 6 seconds behind Geraint Thomas.


17km remaining from 151km

Those two have been swallowed up by the Sky-lead bunch.


Results from the KOM: Capecchi, Herrada, Bonnafond, Roelandts, Kascheckin, Amador.


13km remaining from 151km

The four leaders are barreling down toward McLaren Vale with the bunch in hot pursuit. 


The gap is just 10 seconds now. It's still about 10km until the final ascent up Willunga.


8km remaining from 151km

The lead group has turned left onto Main Road with the bunch approximately 15 seconds behind.


6km remaining from 151km

Interestingly Orica GreenEdge has put a rider on front. Could Simon Gerrans be on form today? He's had health problems this week which have ruined his GC chances. Perhaps a stage win is in order.


5km remaining from 151km

Stuart O'Grady and Australian road champion Luke Durbridge may be setting this up for an Australian winner today. It could also be a move for Simon Clarke - he's proved his climbing ability by winning the KOM classification at last year's Vuelta.


4km remaining from 151km

Nervous times in the bunch now. Plenty of teams trying to get organised near the front.


4km remaining from 151km

Jens Voigt (RadioShack Leopard) is always one of the first to work on the front. He's pulled the group back to within 30 seconds.


RadioShack have three riders in contention for the overall win. Hermans, Bennett and Machado all in the running.


2km remaining from 151km

Here come the attacks as the bunch is all back together. Machado is just off the front with two others.


Geraint Thomas still has Edvald Boasson Hagen with him. The leading three are barely holding a gap.


1km remaining from 151km

Peter Velits is in that move but they cannot shake the bunch. Boasson Hagen doing a stellar job.


Thomas is being forced to chase these late race attacks.


Simon Gerrans is giving it a go but they will have to catch Moreno first.


Gerrans and Moreno have come together. They have a gap over the chasing group. Slagter has just come over the top with Gerrans on his wheel.


Simon Gerrans gets the win over Slagter! The second-place finish should also give the Blanco rider the overall lead.


Official results:

1. Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge)

2. Tom-Jelte Slagter (Blanco)

3. Javier Moreno (Movistar)

General classification:

1. Tom-Jelte Slagter (Blanco)

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