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7th Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under - 2.HC
Australia, January 18-23, 2005
Stage 4 - January 21: Unley to Hahndorf, 152km
Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Anthony Tan and Gabriella Ekström
Complete live report
Live coverage starts: 11.15 ACDT
Once over the top, it's a fast run down through Stirling, Aldgate, Mylor and Echunga - definitely a chance to consolidate a breakaway as the roads are quite windy. There is a sprint at Echunga (km 28.3) and the peloton will then head up Church Hill road, as seen in the Australian National Championships last week, but it's only once this time and the 1 km climb shouldn't cause too much damage. Then it's off to Hahndorf (km 45) for a quick fly by before heading off on a big loop to the north. The day's only categorised climb is at Checker's Hill (km 86.6) - a short (600m) but very steep (14%) pinch that often splits the field. The second sprint is at Woodside (km 119.2) before the race heads back to Hahndorf for the finish.
The sun is trying to show itself this morning at the start in Unley, where there are a few sore heads after last night's street party. It should be a cool-ish day again today, with temperatures predicted to get up to around 25 degrees and a moderate southeasterly wind blowing. This will be behind and across the rides for the first part of the stage, before turning into a tailwind for the second part up to Checker Hill, then a headwind home.
Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis) told us this morning, "I think it's going to be nasty. This is probably the hilliest stage. I think it's going to be hard from the start and it's also going to be a very tactical day." O'Grady is in 5th overall at 20 seconds down, so he will be looking for any advantage today.
11:24 CST 4km/148km to go
11:28 CST 7km/145km to go
2003 winner JCTDU Mikel Astarloza (Ag2r) is definitely out of the running in this year's race, after he missed the main break yesterday. "I spent all day in the gruppetto yesterday so I'm rested today," he told us at the start. "The classement is gone for me, but you will see me in a break today. I like this race a lot but I must say I like it even more when I was winning it."
Astarloza and Chaurreau have 30 seconds at km 6 as counter attacks come from Cofidis and Credit Agricole.
There is a crash, but everyone is back on their bikes.
11:38 CST 12km/140km to go
The time for the climb was 13'37. I'm going to guess that that's to somewhere near the Eagle on the Hill (6.3 km) because I don't think that this peloton is capable of averaging 40 clicks up a 9 km, 5 percent climb.
11:41 CST 15km/137km to go
The breakaways have all been caught now and there are 50 riders in the front group, with the rest of the peloton in disarray. There should be some regrouping on the descent though.
11:43 CST 15km/137km to go
Gene Bates told us this morning, "I feel fresh and recovered, both mind and body. Today I'm going to watch Stuey and Alby and if I see any sign of weakness, I'll be off."
We asked him about the threat of Luis Sanchez. "No, I think Stu and Alby will be the key players. Sanchez was lucky to get away yesterday, I don't think they expected him to stay away. I think today's going to be the decisive stage rather than tomorrow because the climb is so close to the finish tomorrow."
11:45 CST 16km/136km to go
11:48 CST 20km/132km to go
"It could go either way today, either they could go really easy over the climb or they could be riding very hard," Kemps told us at the start. "I've recovered well from yesterday so we'll just try to put a guy or two into everything that moves. There's four of us in the top ten, so it's quite possible that we still see ourselves in the lead after this stage, but I think tomorrow is going to be a more decisive day."
11:51 CST 25km/127km to go
12:00 CST 27km/125km to go
12:09 CST 33km/119km to go
Another attack goes following the sprint, with the aggressive Wim Vansevenant (Davitamon-Lotto), Partrice Halgand (Credit Agricole), Arnaud Gerard and Ian McLeod (FDJeux.com) and Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r Prevoyance) and the yellow jersey of Luis Sanchez (Liberty). It comes back and Sebastien Joly (Credit Agricole), Aaron Kemps (Liberty Seguros), Fortunato Baliani (Ceramiche Panaria Navigare) and Chris Sutton (United Water) counter. Nothing is getting away so far.
12:12 CST 39km/113km to go
12:23 CST 45km/107km to go
On the climb out of Hahndorf, a number of riders are being dropped. It hasn't been an easy pace today. Astarloza and Lemoine are caught.
In contrast to yesterday's barren Fleurieu Peninsula stage, today's jaunt through the back of the Adelaide Hills is a lot greener, with plenty of quaint ye olde towns en route. Hahndorf has a very strong German edge, as evidenced by a certain German cake shop that was frequented by members of the media last week. Be careful asking for bottled fizzy water...
Out of the rest of the riders in yesterday's break, who do you consider most dangerous? "I think Stuey, because he's a local bike rider and just because he's the bike rider that he is - he's in pretty good form. And Gene Bates is in the same category as Stuey - he's a local and he's an awesome bike rider...they're two which come to mind."
It's a bumpier profile than yesterday's stage, so is that something to take into consideration? "Yeah - it's hard to say what the bunch is going to do - we could just ride up the climb [Checker Hill] just like every other year, or there could be attacks - so we've got to be ready for both options.
Finally, how's your bro Scott Davis going? "He's moved out of the hotel, and he's staying down the road; he doesn't want to give anyone else viruses. He said he ate breakfast yesterday morning and started vomiting - doctors advised him not to race since he's going to Europe shortly... not a good idea to go while you're vomiting all over the place!"
12:27 CST 50km/102km to go
12:35 CST 60km/92km to go
12:39 CST 63km/89km to go
12:44 CST 67km/85km to go
Jimmy Engoulvent and Matthew White (Cofidis), Nick Gates and Mario Aerts (Davitamon-Lotto), Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole), Aaron Kemps, Alberto Contador and Javier Ramirez (Liberty Seguros), Mickael Delage, Arnaud Gerard and Cyrille Monnerais (FDJeux.com), Samuel Dumoulin and Nicolas Portal (Ag2r Prevoyance), Hilton Clarke (Navigators Insurance), Mirko Allegrini (Ceramiche Panaria Navigare), David Betts (United Water), Gene Bates (Uni SA).
Bates is the best placed on GC, so it's unlikely to go far. That is the case. All together again.
12:55 CST 74km/78km to go
Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) and Sebastien Joly (Credit Agricole) attack.
13:00 CST 78km/74km to go
13:04 CST 82km/70km to go
Is it all for you now? "Yeah, pretty much, a bit of yes and no - it could go either way, and I'm probably still looking for a stage win now... chances of me getting up on the podium in the general aren't real good - not with the kind of guys that are here and are going well.
"But I'll still be givin' it a good nudge and 100 percent, see how it goes; if I've got good legs, I can call on the boys and to and improve [on the overall classification]. I'll just follow today and tomorrow I think will be the day it's decided."
How are you recovering? "I'm pulling up better and better every day, so as it goes on, I'm getting a bit more under the legs and I'm pulling through a little easier."
Is it a good or bad thing that you're the only GC rider? "We've still got Matty Wilson - he's a bit down on GC, but you never know what can happen."
Race leader Luis Sanchez is back in the peloton after his pitstop.
13:18 CST 84km/68km to go
13:26 CST 87km/65km to go
About today's stage: "Liberty being such a strong team, they've probably got control of the race, but it's going to be a really hard stage today, up and down all day - no recovery at all."
Are you guys going on the offensive today? "Definitely on the offensive. Our guys are going for a stage result, while Erki [Putsep] and I will be looking at the overall. We've got no reason to sit back and take it easy - we've got nothing to defend."
You're 24 seconds behind - it doesn't sound like much, but it is in a race like the JCTDU, isn't it? "You're right - it doesn't sound like much, but in this race, it's really hard to bring back. From all reports, Sanchez is riding really strong, and should be good enough to defend [his lead]."
How are you feeling/recovering? "I'm feeling alright at the moment, but we climb straight out of town here, so it's going to be a tough start to the day. We'll see."
13:32 CST 90km/62km to go
More details at this link
13:37 CST 94km/58km to go
13:47 CST 101km/51km to go
Riders in the break: Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto), Sebastien Joly (Credit Agricole), Matthew White (Cofidis), Frederic Finot (FDJeux.com), Fortunato Baliani (Ceramiche Panaria Navigare) and Nicolas Portal (Ag2r Prevoyance).
13:52 CST 105km/47km to go
I guess with two teams of four riders in the break yesterday, United Water were somewhat outnumbered? "Yeah, we were outnumbered, but we were probably outpowered as well. I tried to go with [Van Summeren and Sanchez] when they went in the last 20 [kilometres], but Allan Davis was straight on my wheel, so I backed it off again. Eventually, we got it [the chase] working, and had one of our boys on the front. I did a couple of turns - it was hard, though."
So the cross-headwind sorted out the men from the boys? "It did, but not too much - it mostly stayed together - but it was just a hard day, because you were always fighting with the wind. No-one fully put it in the gutter, which could have easily have happened."
So what about the team plan today? "We're in a pretty comfortable position, because we don't have any pressure on us to control the race - Liberty and Lotto do - but I think there's a very good chance a break will go with riders who are half and hour down.
"It's probably in Liberty's interest for a break to go up the road, take time bonuses, maybe even win a stage, because if they're half an hour down, it doesn't matter in the overall tour. It will take the pressure off them, so I think there's a good chance of that."
Do you see an offensive ride from some of the other teams, with riders such as Simon Gerrans from Ag2R? "I don't if he's quite got the legs at the moment - I certainly think the Lotto guys, because they're only two seconds down, and the guy who's sitting in second place [Van Summeren], I just can't see him sitting back and not having a go to try and win the tour.
"But it won't happen till the latter stages, it won't happen until Checkers Hill - a break may go [before], but it won't be let go unless it's got riders who are half an hour down after yesterday. If it's got a rider in the first 25 from yesterday, the teams will get on the front and chase it."
So you rate Van Summeren as a dangerous rider? "Oh yeah, he looks strong all the time. He was chasing things all the time, and he still had the legs yesterday to go with one of the final attacks."
14:03 CST 114km/38km to go
14:08 CST 117km/35km to go
14:14 CST 121km/31km to go
14:21 CST 123km/29km to go
14:30 CST 129km/23km to go
14:32 CST 135km/17km to go
14:36 CST 138km/14km to go
14:45 CST 142km/10km to go
14:52 CST 146km/6km to go
14:57 CST 151km/1km to go
15:08 CST 152km/0km to go
McEwen wins the sprint for second ahead of Joly, Finot, Baliani and Portal, while Mark Renshaw wins the bunch sprint for seventh at 3'45 back.
"I'm very happy since this is my first big win for myself since '99," White told Cyclingnews after the stage.
Well, that wraps it up from the live crew today. Be sure to check in later on for the full results, reports and photos from stage 4.
Unofficial 1 Matthew White (Aus) Cofidis - Le Credit Par Telephone 3.35.00 2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon - Lotto 0.02 3 Sebastien Joly (Fra) Crédit Agricole 4 Frederic Finot (Fra) Francaise Des Jeux 5 Fortunato Baliani (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria - Navigare 0.06 6 Nicolas Portal (Fra) Ag2R - Prevoyance 0.10 7 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Francaise Des Jeux 3.45 8 Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Cofidis - Le Credit Par Telephone 9 David McPartland (Aus) United Water 10 David Loosli (Swi) Lampre - Caffita 11 Jan Kuyckx (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto 12 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros Team 13 Giosuè Bonomi (Ita) Lampre - Caffita 14 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis - Le Credit Par Telephone 15 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Liberty Seguros Team General classification after stage 4 1 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Liberty Seguros Team 2 Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto 0.02 3 Paride Grillo (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria - Navigare 0.12 4 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros Team 0.13 5 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis - Le Credit Par Telephone 0.18 6 Gene Bates (Aus) Uni SA 0.20 7 Robert McLachlan (Aus) United Water 0.22 8 Javier Ramirez Abeja (Spa) Liberty Seguros Team 9 Aaron Kemps (Aus) Liberty Seguros Team 0.24 10 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Francaise Des Jeux Points classification 1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon - Lotto Mountains classification 1 Gene Bates (Aus) Uni SA Most aggressive rider 1 Sebastien Joly (Fra) Crédit Agricole U23 classification 1 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Liberty Seguros Team