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8th Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under - 2.HC
Australia, January 17-22, 2006
Prologue - Tuesday, January 17: Jacob's Creek Down Under Classic, 50km
McEwen continues love affair with Adelaide
By Les Clarke in Adelaide
Davitamon-Lotto's Robbie McEwen has fired a warning shot to his sprint rivals in this year's Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under with a win in the Jacob's Creek Down Under Classic held in Adelaide's east end this evening. He held off a fast-finishing Allan Davis, who looks to have found some solid form early in January, to take the victory ahead of Italian riders Daniele Colli and Simone Cadamuro, the latter securing Team Milram's first-ever podium finish.
McEwen, who was confident of a strong showing leading into this week, laid low for most of the race before popping his head up during the final laps after great work from teammates Henk Vogels, Nic Gates and Mario Aerts. "It's fantastic," said McEwen after his fourth win in Adelaide, "I wasn't sure how it was going to be, but I felt when I went out this morning that it wasn't too bad; in the warm up before the race I felt good and even had a go early in the race."
Credit Agricole's gun sprinting squad looked like the team to beat going into the final lap; Julian Dean and Thor Hushovd were working hard for in-form Australian Mark Renshaw to make a run for the finale, but it wasn't to be. After strong leadout work from his Liberty Seguros teammates, Allan Davis challenged McEwen for the wheel of Milram's fast man Simone Cadamuro as they neared the line before, in McEwen's own words, "I was able to outmanoeuvre Alby [Davis] to get in the wheel and just wait for the moment. I took my position in the sprint, waited for the moment and worked out just the way I like it." And it's well known that the Australian loves to be out front at the finish.
How it unfolded
With a massive crowd [estimated at 70,000], massive sunshine and massive firepower in the field, the inaugural Jacob's Creek Down Under Classic got underway in Adelaide's east end to a massive reception. And after half a lap of 'meet and greet' it was all on; although the field was together it was strung out along the finishing straight, with Pierre Drancourt leading Phil Zajicek and Josh Wilson across the line as they crossed for the first time.
A small break formed soon after the field went through the start-finish area for the second time, as Milram's Carlo Scognamiglio, Chocolade Jacques' Jens Renders and Liberty Seguros' Carlos Barredo trying to get away early before being joined by another three riders on lap four. Barredo took advantage of his good position to take the first prime before Bouygues Telecom rider Rony Martias crashed quite heavily after five laps.
After six laps, five riders had managed to gain an advantage of ten seconds over the main field, but Davitamon-Lotto teammates McEwen and Henk Vogels, plus Eros Capecchi, Mark Renshaw and Carlos Barredo weren't allowed to put any more time into the main bunch before they were brought back by a fast-charging peloton led by Liberty's Luis Leon Sanchez and Allan Davis.
It was then time for Vincent Jerome to go out alone, the Bouygues Telecom rider managing to escape the field by about seven seconds during laps seven and eight before he too was was caught as the field wound up for the second prime. Before this was contested, a group of 12 riders went away, among them newly-crowned Australian open road race champion Russell Van Hout. The South Australian appeared to be working for teammate Gene Bates, instead taking the cash himself in a clear sprint for the line.
The constant attacks were taking their toll on the field, strain showing on the faces of riders not used to the warmth and intensity at this time of the year. Just as the main field thought they were in for a break, another group of seven riders went off the front, with Navigators' Australian rider Ben Brooks joined by fellow Australian Aaron Kemps, plus Denis Haueisen, Rony Martias, Alexandre Botcharov and Samuel Dumoulin as they worked well together to try and get away from the peloton. It wasn't long before they were caught, which was the cue for Brook's Australian teammate Glen Chadwick, a fresh addition to the Navigators squad, to make a solo run with two laps before the third prime.
Leading into the third prime, Liquigas' Manuel Quinziato looked set to take the cash and did so, winning the sprint easily by a margin of 15 metres. It wasn't long before another Navigators rider, David O'Loughlin, tried his hand at a break. He was joined by UniSA's Gene Bates, Alexandre Pichot and Wes Sulzberger to try and make a break from a field that looked more and more like it forming for a bunch sprint. All of a sudden there were riders down, with Van Hout and UniSA teammate Robert McLaughlin involved in a crash. All involved were ok, but Van Hout's chances of making a run at the win were seriously dented, and it gave the peloton a reason to slow and regroup.
Liquigas, Team Milram and Liberty Seguros-Wurth were controlling the pace going into the final prime as the pace lifted again, with Mauro Da Dalto benefiting from the celeste crew's hard yards on the course, still hot from the Adelaide sun and the racing that had already gone down. With four laps to go the pace lifted even further, and Josh Wilson, Paul Crake and David O'Loughlin thought they'd try and beat the pace, breaking away to string out the field. As they were caught it was a desperate last-ditch attempt to break from the clutches of the field when David Tanner, Sergey Lagutin and Paul Crake tried their very best out the front of the field, only to be caught after half a lap.
From that point on it was always going to be a shootout of the sprinters, with Julian Dean then Thor Hushovd setting up Mark Renshaw, Liberty Seguros setting up Allan Davis and Milram setting up Simone Cadamuro for the win. But in a continuation of his love affair with the streets of Adelaide, Robbie McEwen sat among the big movers and bided his time, popping his head up at the right moment and reaching 75km/h on his way to what turned out to be a comfortable win.
Ecstatic with the victory, McEwen knew who would feature in the finale, as he battled Davis for the wheel of Cadamuro, who finished the speedy criterium in third. McEwen's Australian teammate, Cadel Evans, was happy with the team's hard work. "When you get a sniff of victory at this time of year, you do everything you can - a couple of us were in the early breakaways, and then at the end Henk and Sevi [Win Vansevenant] made sure he was where he needed to be at the finish; he took care of the rest," said Evans after the finish.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Mark Gunter/www.pbase.com/gunterphotograph
Images by Rachel Burke/www.maximumattack.biz
1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 1.01.06 (49.1 km/h) 2 Daniele Colli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 3 Simone Cadamuro (Ita) Milram 4 Dimitri De Fauw (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-T Interim 5 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 6 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Credit Agricole 7 Luca Paolini (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 8 Eros Capecchi (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 9 Matthew Goss (Aus) South Australia.com-AIS 10 Alexandre Usov (Blr) Ag2r Prevoyance 11 Hilton Clarke (Aus) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team 12 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 13 Sebastien Chavanel (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 14 Rony Martias (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 15 Aaron Kemps (Aus) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 16 Elia Rigotto (Ita) Milram 17 Walter Beneteau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 18 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r Prevoyance 19 Jens Renders (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-T Interim 20 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team There are no official placings after 20th. Entire field finished in bunch time. Sprint primes Laubman & Pank - Prime #1 - Finish Arch - Lap 5 - 10.0 km (at 20 laps to go) 1 Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team Century 21 - Prime #2 - Finish Arch - Lap 10 - 20.0 km (at 15 laps to go) 1 Russel Van Hout (Aus) UniSA Share The Road - Prime #3 - Finish Arch - Lap 15 - 30.0 km (at 10 laps to go) 1 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi SA Lotteries - Prime #4 - Finish Arch - Lap 20 - 40 km (at 5 laps to go) 1 Mauro Da Dalto (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi