Jacobs Creek Tour Down Under - 2.3

Australia, January 15-20, 2002

Anyone got a spare C40? Spectator saves Rogers' day

By Gerard Knapp In Adelaide

Adam Pyke came to the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under to watch the cycling, but ended up saving the day for the new leader of the race on general classification.

Pyke, 29, was standing on the side of the road just half a kilometre into the climb up Mengler's Hill, when only 10 metres away, Michael Rogers came to a screeching halt after a tangle with a motorcycle had ripped his rear derailleur off the back of his bike and pushed it into his rear wheel. Cursing loudly, Rogers dismounted and looked down at his bike to assess the damage and realised he wasn't going any further on that machine, so he threw the blue, Mapei team-issue Colnago C40 onto the ground in disgust.

"So Michael's taken one look at my bike and he's taken off," Pyke said. In an uncanny coincidence, Pyke is the proud owner of a 56cm centre-to-top Colnago C40, which uses the latest Shimano SPD-R pedals. Oddly enough, it was the same size as Rogers' bike - "or close enough" - and also uses the same type of pedals (see picture).

From the side of the road, in what appeared to be as slick a bike change as seen on the bottom of a climb in the Tour de France, Rogers quickly climbed onto the plain brown C40 of Pyke's and with a push up the road from the motorcycle rider, quickly set off in pursuit of his fellow break-aways.

At that stage the group had gained about a 30-40 second lead. Perhaps it was the break from his effort at the foot of the climb, or the adrenalin pumping through his veins, but Rogers made up the time difference and eventually caught the other riders in the break, and then actually took out the next intermediate sprint in Angaston.

When the spectator saw the incident with the motorcycle - he could not say who was really to blame - "I just grabbed my bike and gave it to him".
Click for larger image
Adam and his C40
Photo: © Tom Balks/CN

In that situation, "you just throw a bike at him and see what happens", Pyke said. What happpened was that Rogers then went on to take second place in the stage and more importantly, claim a 21 second lead on GC from AG2R rider Alexandre Botcharov, after a gruelling day in temperatures over 40 degrees celsius (over 100 degrees F). At the end of the stage, Pyke recovered his machine from a grateful Rogers. "He shook my hand and said 'thank you'," he said.

Pyke's wife, who was watching the cycling with him, has since told him that "you're not to wash it or ride it again".

Pyke is actually a B grade rider the Chelsea Peninsula Club in Melbourne, Victoria, and had come to the tour specifically to watch his former team-mate from Melbourne, Matt Wilson, who has secured a ride this year with La Franšaise Des Jeux. Did Rogers make any changes to Pyke's C40 while he continued racing? "I think he took the toolkit off the back," he said.

Later in the stage, the AIS team mechanic did raise the saddle for Rogers, who was otherwise very happy with the spectator's bike. Interviewed on television after the stage, commentator Phil Liggett said such a coincidence - and the rider going on to take the general classification - "was virtually unprecedented" in the sport (see story below).

Although there is an understanding by some that receiving outside assistance from a third party is against UCI regulations, the UCI Commissaire at the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, Martin Bruin, told Cyclingnews the bike change is allowed to stand. "The rule is if the rider steals or takes a wheel or bike from someone, that is not allowed. But if he is given the bike, that is OK."

"He wouldn't have gotten a quicker bike change had they taken it off the car," commented Rogers' AIS team-mate Scott Sunderland, who had to abandon the Tour due to injuries sustained in an accident in yesterday's stage. See full results and report of stage 5.

Rogers emulates Dag Otto Lauritzen

By Tomas Nilsson, cyclingnews.com correspondent

Michael Rogers' way of winning the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under assisted by a bike lending spectator rings a Norwegian bell or two. In the early eighties, the H°nefoss GP was a weekend stage race which later developed into the Ringerike GP, the only Norwegian race on the international calendar. On the final stage, Glňmdal's Dag Otto Lauritzen made a solo break and had a minute and a half gap with less than two kilometres to the finish. His rear tyre punctured and team manager, the legendary Knut Knudsen, ordered a wheel change. The poor mechanic however didn't get the wheel properly in place, so when Dag Otto started the wheel came off, destroying the derailleur.

Dag Otto Lauritzen recalled the drama to Cyclingnews: "A stage victory would mean overall victory so I didn't want to give it up," he said. "There was nothing else to do but to look around for some other bike. In the ditch there was an ol' DBS sportsbike with saddle bags and all. The mechanic picked it up and off I went. The pedals didn't match, but since there was little over a kilometre to go I put the feet on the other side of them and managed to hold the bunch off by some 50 metres."

Dag Otto Lauritzen's career then developed and via an Olympic bronze in Los Angeles in 1984 he started a ten year pro career with Peugeot, 7 Eleven, Motorola and TVM, picking up a stage win in the Tour de France in 1987 at Luz Ardiden, and several other fine victories along the way.