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5th Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under - 2.3

Australia, January 21-26, 2003

Home    Stage profile    Start list    Results

Stage 5: Saturday Jan 25, Willunga - Willunga , 147km

Complete live report

Start time: 11:00 ACDT (actual start 11:03)
Est finish time: 14:44 ACDT

11:00 ACDT - 0 km

Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the fifth stage of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, 147 km starting and finishing in Willunga. Today's stage is run over three laps of 40 kilometres followed by a 27 km finishing circuit, which contains the notorious Willunga Hill at km 127. This is a pretty serious climb, averaging close to 10 percent over 3 km. The remainder of the stage is fairly flat, with two intermediate sprints at km 58.8 and km 100.7.

The weather today is every bit as hot as yesterday, with temperatures expected to reach over 40 degrees on the road, although it will be slightly cooler when the riders hit the Gulf of St Vincent each lap for a short period.

Today's stage takes place in the McLaren Vale on the Fleurieu Peninsula, another big South Australian wine growing district.

11:14 ACDT - 7 km
After a 2 km neutralised section to take the riders out of Willunga, the race started at 11:04am. There were attacks almost immediately, with a group of seven riders escaping for a short while. However, they were brought back quickly and the peloton is strung out at 50 km/h along Aldinga Rd.

11:21 ACDT - 12 km
Cyclingnews spoke to Saeco's Joerg Ludewig this morning, about the team's chances of defending Fabio Sacchi's yellow jersey. "Fabio is in incredible shape," said Ludewig. "We tried it last year and it didn't work, so maybe this time third time lucky. Fabio is very impressive but Robbie is fourth in the world and is so fast. If he goes for the intermediate sprints then we will have a problem. We'll get Fabio to the hill, then it's all up to him."

11:30 ACDT - 16 km
Saeco has got on the front of the peloton and is riding high tempo to prevent any breaks getting clear. The latest riders to attack are Nicolas Portal (Ag2R) and Andrea Tafi (CSC), who have about 400m on the bunch.

As the riders headed out of town, they were greeted by a weird sculpture which CN's Anthony Tan describes as a cross between a mermaid and King Neptune, with some transvestite overtones. It's a worry.

11:38 ACDT - 20 km
Tafi and Portal now have 1'02 on the peloton, which is still being led by Saceo. Both Tafi and Portal are only 2 minutes behind Sacchi on GC, so they'll be watched closely.

Robbie McEwen spoke to Cyclingnews at the start today in Willunga. "I'm feeling hot. Who knows what will happen today? I'll just see how it goes and try to hang on."

11:51 ACDT - 32 km
After 32 km, the gap has grown to 2'12 between Tafi & Portal and the peloton. That makes Andrea Tafi the GC leader on the road now.

The prevailing factor on the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under is the weather - or to be more precise - exactly how high the temperature will climb during the day.

At the start at Willunga this morning, Cyclingnews.com's Anthony Tan reported that it is "only 33, which is relatively mild compared to yesterday". Indeed, the temperature is probably lower than what would have hit the riders as they walked out of the air-conditioned confines of the Adelaide Hilton Hotel, where they are staying during the Tour. The front door of the Hilton faces east and cops a direct blast from the unrelenting sun in the cloudless sky as soon as it pops above the horizon.

There is also very little wind today, which must comes as a relief to both the riders and the thousands of volunteer bush firefighters, who are on high alert throughout virtually all of south east Australia as the country goes through its driest summer in a century.

This morning in South Australia there is heat, collective bushfire smoke haze, but fortunately so far there are no reports of new bushfires starting.

11:58 ACDT - 36 km
As the peloton nears the end of Lap 1, the two leaders Andrea Tafi (CSC) and Nicolas Portal (Ag2r) have an advantage of 2'32 to the peloton. Tafi started the day in 30th place at 1'59, while Portal was 34th at 2'05, so Saeco can't give these two riders too much headway.

12:02 ACDT - 40 km
After 40 km, we have the first abandonment of today's stage. And incredibly it's Robbie McEwen, who's on the side of the road talking to his director Hendrik Redant. He didn't crash, so we're not sure why he pulled out. He did say he was feeling hot this morning, and that wasn't in reference to his legs despite the fact that he was lying in second overall.

The break is still at around 2'30.

12:06 ACDT - 42 km
Andrea Tafi and Nicolas Portal continue to increase their advantage over the peloton. It's now 3'34 as they start the second lap of the 40 km circuit, and Tafi's virtual grip on the yellow jersey is increasing. Of course, he might find his grip becoming very slippery once the break reaches the 100 km mark, but this is no mug we're talking about. Tafi has won five World Cup races in his career, including the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Tours and Giro di Lombardia.

He's an incredible rider in a break, and is capable of pulling off a long solo effort. But it's January, and Tafi's probably using this race to get in form for his favourite spring classics. It worked for him last year.

12:17 ACDT - 47 km
Seven km into lap two and Andrea Tafi and Nicolas Portal are now 3'50 in front of the peloton, which is clearly unconcerned about chasing the duo at the moment.

At the start line FDjeux.com's Bradley McGee said "this will definitely be the hardest stage of the Tour. I'm sure there will be a smash-up going up Willunga Hill," in reference to the climb some 20km from the finish of stage 5.

Defending champion Mick Rogers (Quick Step - Davitamon) said "we're going to let Saeco and Lotto-Domo control the tempo until Willunga, and then go warp speed up the hill".

The aim will be to put both current race leader Fabio Sacchi (Saeco) and the second-placed rider on GC, Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) under pressure and drop them on the climb.

"I think there's a lot more guys here this year in good condition, which explains why there we've got around 20 guys all capable of winning the race".

12:25 ACDT - 52 km
Talking on the side of the road after his dramatic withdrawal, Lotto-Domo rider Robbie McEwen said the reason he abandoned was due to shooting pain in his left knee, which has had surgery in 1995 and 1999. "It first happened in (this morning's) neutral zone," he told Ride Cycling Review editor Rob Arnold, who was one of the first to talk to the rider. "I persevered and rode the first lap (of the stage 5 parcours). I decided to pull out and get my knee looked at. I can't take the risk that I'm going to do major damage."

Further reports to come soon.

12:28 ACDT - 56 km
Tafi is doing huge 30 second turns at the front, on the hoods Paris-Roubaix style. But Portal is not shirking either.

Saeco have their men on the front of the peloton. So do all of Credit Agricole and Team Telekom, who are up the front too. There are lots of O'Grady fans on the road, hoping for a win by their hero.

The results of the first sprint at Aldinga Beach (km 58) are as follows: 1 Andrea Tafi (CSC) 2 Nicolas Portal (Ag2R) 3 Andy Flickinger (Ag2R). The latter has moved another second closer to Sacchi on GC, and he is now second overall at 16 seconds.

12:45 ACDT - 68 km/79 km to go
The leading pair are now 4'30 in front of the peloton, as Saeco has upped the tempo from behind. They'll need more than that if they are to survive the assault on Willunga Hill.

After four stages, there are 20 riders within 30 seconds of the leader, but in the Jacob's Creek, 30 seconds is normally a big margin. One of the most attacking teams of the 2003 Jacob's Creek - and also in the 2002 edition - is the locally formed UniSA team, sponsored by the University of South Australia. The team leader is experienced professional Patrick Jonker, a South Australian born rider of Dutch heritage who has raced in Europe for teams such as ONCE (where he placed 12th overall in the 1996 Tour de France), Rabobank and most recently Big Mat.

In his broad Australian accent, Jonker told Cyclingnews this morning "I thought I was in good form coming into this race, but there's so many guys flying right now".

On the previous weekend Jonker ran third in the Australian Open National road championship, behind Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole) and Allan Davis (ONCE).

Jonker predicted that on Willunga Hill "guys like (Cadel) Evans, (Daniele) Nardello and (Lennie) Kristensen will blow the field apart to try and get rid of McEwen and Sacchi. Hopefully, my form is good enough to stay with the lead group."

The current leader of the U23 category of this year's Jacob's Creek is Gene Bates, also from the UniSA team. He said this morning "no-one is going to be watching me very closely (but) I'd be silly to not to wait until Willunga. Everybody's got the same objective. Me and Pat [Jonker] will make it as hard as possible and get rid of Robbie and Fabio."

"The legs are still feeling good. I topped up with plenty of fluids last night and it's going to be all or nothing today."

12:54 ACDT - 73 km/74 km to go
As the two leaders, Andrea Tafi (CSC) and Nicolas Portal (Ag2r) reach the halfway point, their advantage has dropped slightly to 4'22. The warm conditions (still 33 degrees) and the winds that have picked up are making it tough out there.

For more on Robbie McEwen's surprise abandonment in today's stage, click here.

13:04 ACDT - 80 km/67 km to go
Tafi and Portal have now passed through Willunga for the second time, having to do just one more lap of the Willunga-Aldinga Beach-McLaren Vale circuit. Their advantage is still 4'22, with Tafi now doing most of the work to drive the break along.

13:10 ACDT - 83 km/64 km to go
The leaders, who have been away since km 14, are now 4'40 in front of the peloton at the top of the short climb on Aldinga Rd. They are now descending towards Aldinga Beach for the final time, cheered on as always by many thousands of colourful fans alongside the road.

13:26 ACDT - 98 km/49 km to go
CN's Anthony Tan reports that the roads are packed full of people, and it's standing room only on the balconies as the race goes by. Flags are waving, bikes are hanging from everywhere. There's obviously a huge Danish contingent here as well, as there are a lot of CSC banners. The crowd has gotten even bigger the second time they went through Willunga.

The latest gap between Tafi/Portal and the peloton is 3'25 just before the 100 km mark. Tafi's virtual grip on the leader's jersey is loosening. He is doing nearly all the work now, as Portal struggles to stay on his wheel on the short climbs.

13:36 ACDT - 105 km/42 km to go
The results of the second sprint at Aldinga Beach were as follows: 1 Andrea Tafi (CSC) 2 Nicolas Portal (Ag2R) 3 Kevin Van Impe (Lotto Domo).

13:51 ACDT - 111 km/36 km to go
The gap is coming down rapidly now as the leaders begin to tire and the peloton picks up the pace. Tafi and Portal have been out there for nearly 100 km, and may well get caught before Willunga Hill. With 36 km to go, their lead is 1'45 back to the peloton.

13:57 ACDT - 116 km/31 km to go
The leaders are still 1'45 in front of the peloton as they ride through McLaren Vale and turn south towards Willunga for the second last time. The foot of Willunga Hill is at 124 km, so it seems that they could stay away until then.

14:02 ACDT - 122 km/25 km to go
After hearing that the time gap went up to 2'00 at 120 km, ONCE have got themselves onto the front of the peloton and are really driving it towards the climb. They don't want to give Tafi too much rope, because he won't hang himself.

14:08 ACDT - 128 km/19 km to go
Tafi and Portal were caught on Willunga Hill, as the peloton went ballistic on the climb. Cadel Evans (Telekom) crossed first, followed by Paolo Lanfranchi (Panaria Fiordo), KOM leader Lennie Kristensen (CSC) then Xavier Florencio and Giampaolo Caruso (ONCE Eroski) . They were followed by a group of 5 riders, containing Pat Jonker (UniSA), who was hanging onto the back.

Then a group of 12 riders came through at about 30 seconds, led by Gene Bates (Uni SA). This group contained Fabio Sacchi, the race leader.

14:14 ACDT - 132 km/15 km to go
The new situation on the road after the descent: Cadel Evans (Telekom), Lennie Kristensen (CSC), Paolo Lanfranchi (Panaria Fiordo), Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole), Xavier Florencio and Giampaolo Caruso (ONCE Eroski) are in a front group of 10 riders, 23 seconds in front of the yellow jersey group with Fabio Sacchi.

14:20 ACDT - 136 km/11 km to go
The group containing Evans and Kristensen is now 1'05 ahead of Sacchi's group of 12. That puts Mikel Astarloza (5th on GC) in the virtual yellow jersey, and by the looks of it he could be in the real one tonight. But he's on the same time as Kristensen, and only five seconds separates him from O'Grady (8th on GC), so if the latter can win the stage, he'll pick up a six second time bonus. Also noteworthy is that Florencio is at 7 seconds behind Kristensen, while Lanfranchi and Evans are at 9 seconds.

It looks to be an exciting finish...

14:29 ACDT - 143 km/4 km to go
The front group of 10 is as follows: Xavier Florencio (ONCE Eroski), Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole), Giampaolo Caruso (ONCE Eroski), Steffen Wesemann (Telekom), Paolo Lanfranchi (Panaria Fiordo), David Canada (Quickstep-Davitamon), Patrick Jonker (UniSA), Mikel Astarloza (Ag2R), Cadel Evans (Telekom) and Lennie Kristensen (CSC). Astarloza is the best placed on GC.

Caruso has attacked with 2 km to go.

14:33 ACDT - 147 km/0 km to go
Caruso has won the stage by a bike length, with Steffen Wesemann (Telekom) second and Paolo Lanfranchi (Panaria) third. The yellow jersey group comes in at about 20-25 seconds, so it's going to be close as to who gets the yellow jersey tonight.

"Manolo [Saiz, ONCE Directeur-Sportif] gave me permission to attack with five kilometres to go, so I owe this stage to him," said a jubilant Caruso, who now lies 3rd on the overall classification. "I lost four seconds on the first stage and that may decide whether I win the race or not."

It's been confirmed that Mikel Astarloza (Ag2r) is in the yellow jersey, although he is tied on time with Lennie Kristensen. Then Caruso and O'Grady are a handful of seconds behind them, which will set things up for an exciting final stage tomorrow.


1 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) ONCE Eroski      3.26.43
2 Stefen Wesemann (Ger) Telekom 
3 Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita) Panaria Fiordo 
4 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole 
5 Lennie Kristensen (Den) CSC 
6 Mikel Astarloza (Spa) Ag2R 
7 Xavier Florencio (Spa) ONCE Eroski 
8 David Canada (Spa) Quickstep-Davitamon 
9 Patrick Jonker (Aus) UniSA 
10 Cadel Evans (Aus) Telekom                 0.04
11 Allan Davis (Aus) ONCE Eroski             0.31
General classification after stage 5  
1 Mikel Astarloza (Spa) Ag2R 
2 Lennie Kristensen (Den) CSC 
3 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) ONCE Eroski  
4 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole
Sprints classification 
1 Andrea Tafi (Ita) CSC
Mountains classification 
1 Cadel Evans (Aus) Telekom
2 Lennie Kristensen (Den) CSC
U23 classification 
1 Gene Bates (Aus) UniSA
Most aggressive rider 
1 Nicolas Portal (Fra) Ag2r-Prevoyance

Results    Mail the commentary team