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8th Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under - 2.HC

Australia, January 17-22, 2006

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Prologue - January 17: Jacob's Creek Down Under Classic, 50 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Les Clarke and Anthony Tan

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 19:00 ACDT
Estimated finish: 20:10 ACDT

18:52 CST   
Welcome to sunny Adelaide for the start of the 2006 Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under. It's the eighth edition of this always spectacular event, and this year will again be starting with a 50 km circuit race in the eastern part of Adelaide's city. It's a 2 km circuit around Rundle Rd, East Tce, Bartels Rd and Dequetteville Tce - tight, but fast, and last year's average was nearly 50 km/h.

The big difference this year is that the opening race, now named the Jacob's Creek Down Under Classic, doesn't actually form part of the overall tour in terms of the general classification or any of the points jerseys. The riders will merely be racing for the glory and €8000 (about $14,000), and that will be more than enough to give us a good race.

It's been in the mid-30s here today, and it hasn't cooled down much as the sun is still out in the early evening. So there'll be plenty of drinking going on in the hour and change that it will take to complete the 50 km. Well, the riders will be drinking water and the massive crowd of spectators will be drinking all sorts of things, including a bit of the sponsor's product.

There are four prime sprints tonight: at 10, 20, 30 and 40 km. They will count for cash and will be fiercely contested, no doubt.

The first race of the Adelaide Advertiser Women's Criterium Series was held just an hour ago on the same circuit. The race was won by Jenny MacPherson (Victoria) from Australian national road champion Kate Bates (NSW/Nürnberger) and Bridget Evans (Queensland).

19:00 CST   
OK, we're good to go for the Jacob's Creek aperitif, with Katie Brown getting ready to fire the starting shot...

19:07 CST    4km/46km to go
They are racing in the Jacob's Creek Down Under Classic, with the first two laps of the 2 km circuit already completed. The peloton is very strung out but no-one has been able to get away.

19:09 CST    8km/42km to go
They're winding it up now for the first prime, with Ag2r setting tempo on the front.

We spoke to Credit Agricole's Thor Hushovd before the start, as he is one of the favourites for this stage.

"Yeah I love [the sun]," he commented. "I had a couple of laps around the course and it looks good. And I love the crowd too.

"Robbie [McEwen] would like to win tonight also, so we'll see what's happening. Tonight I think it shows who'll be the best this week in sprinting. Mark Renshaw is feeling fitter because he's done more racing, so I would also want to work for him if that's the case. That's the same for the rest of this week."

19:12 CST   
On lap 4, a group of six have escaped the peloton, but only have about a four second lead. It's tight racing here around Rundle Terrace, and the crowd is loving it.

19:15 CST    10km/40km to go
Rony Martias (Bouygues) has crashed on the fifth lap after Carlos Barredo (Liberty) won the first prime. He's part of the five rider break that still leads by about five seconds.

19:16 CST   
The warm conditions led to more conservative women's criterium that started 90 minutes earlier than the men's. Tonight's race winner Jenny Macpherson told Cyclingnews it was not the course that was the big factor, but the heat.

Macpherson had been in a two-rider break with Olivia Gollan, but they decided to back off and were absorbed into the bucnh - mainly due to the heat stress of racing on the street circuit in the middle of the city.

But before the men's race, Sean Sullivan from the UniSA team told us he was enjoying the hot conditions. The Tasmanian said, "the heat? I love it. It's good to have it.

"It's a pretty straightforward course and I think it will be a fast race."

A member of the team sponsored by the University of South Australia, one of the local squads that always animates the race and this year includes Australia's new road champion, Russell Van Hout, Sullivan said, "we've all trained hard this summer and I'm sure that one of us will do well."

19:21 CST    15km/35km to go
The action continues after the first sprint, and the crowd is getting good value for its money. Hang on, the entry is free. Be that as it may, the break of six has been caught at the start of lap 7, only to see Jerome Vincent (Bouygues pronounced Bweeg) have a go off the front. He has 7 seconds.

19:22 CST   
After signing on, Davitamon-Lotto's Cadel Evans told Cyclingnews he was glad to be back racing in Adelaide. It's his first major hit-out for the year, as he didn't race in last weekend's Australian Open Road Championship (AORC) race.

"The (Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under) race has been great to me over the years, and I love coming back to race in South Australia."

While working hard in the peloton for a sprinter during a 50km criterium isn't his favoured environment, he said he was looking forward to getting their star sprinter, Robbie McEwen, into a winning position for the opening race.

"Robbie will definitely be in with a chance tonight," he said.

His team-mate, fellow Australian Henk Vogels, is also ready to race. "I feel great and I'm 'geed' (motivated) to race tonight. We will definitely be working for Robbie."

Vogels put in a strong performance in last Saturday's AORC road race, and said he feels completely different in 2006, compared to this time last year. "Then, I had a 41-degree fever, but this year, I feel much better."

19:27 CST    20km/30km to go
Vincent is caught by the fast moving peloton before the second prime, and it's Australian elite champ Russell Van Hout (UniSA) who takes out the second sprint. He leads a group of 12 or so off the front of the bunch.

19:29 CST   
We spoke to Russ before the start today, and he revealed the secret of his good form: "I'm doing well because I've been training harder this year. But I'm still taking it one race at a time and we'll see what happens."

19:31 CST   
Another rider to watch tonight is Steven Caethoven (Chocolade Jacques). The young Belgian can definitely mix it with the best in the sprints, but his form at this stage of the year is probably a bit off his best.

19:34 CST    26km/24km to go
A group of seven is away, but just about to be caught at the end of lap 13. Simon Gerrans (Ag2r) is driving the bunch and looking good. Ben Brooks (Navigators) was in the break, but now back in the bunch.

19:39 CST    30km/20km to go
After Navigators Glen Chadwick attacked the field on lap 14 to soften them up a bit, Italian time trial specialist Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas-Bianchi) takes the third prime at lap 15. Still no riders have been able to establish a good gap, as is common for this type of race.

19:41 CST    32km/18km to go
Navigators is looking to get in amongst it tonight, as evidenced by Dave O'Loughlin's pre-race comments to us. "We're looking to get Hilton Clarke to the line," said the Irishman. "Him and Ben Brooks have got good form. And we'll try to work aggressively as a team. We'll share the work around and I don't think I'll be having a go myself tonight unless a break gets away early."

19:45 CST    36km/14km to go
Speak of the devil... O'Loughlin attacks with Gerrans, Alexandre Pichot (Bouygues), and Wes Sulzberger (United Water). But the quartet is caught on lap 18 as Liberty controls the bunch.

19:46 CST    38km/12km to go
There's been another crash. On lap 19, Russ Van Hout takes a tumble with a few other riders. No-one is seriously hurt though.

19:52 CST    40km/10km to go
It's all back together for the fourth and final prime; Mauro da Dalto (Liquigas) takes it, as Liberty and Liquigas control things.

19:57 CST    46km/4km to go
We're getting towards the climax as Robbie McEwen moves to the front at two to go.

19:59 CST   
A crash on the second last lap has taken out Gene Bates (UniSA), who obviously won't be contesting the final sprint.

20:00 CST   
It's looking like coming down to a bunch sprint, but maybe a last minute escape will work...

20:02 CST    50km/0km to go
Kiwi Julian Dean moves up Hushovd, or is it Renshaw for the final sprint, then Alby Davis challenges...

But it's Robbie McEwen who does it! He wins the first stage!!

20:17 CST   
We have confirmed the top three now: Robbie McEwen won the stage ahead of Italians Daniele Colli (Liquigas-Bianchi) and Simone Cadamuro, of the new Milram team.

That's Robbie's 12th stage win in the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under (although technically this doesn't really count as a stage). But a win is a win and Robbie and the Davitamon boys will be very happy with it.

OK, that wraps it up from us in the commentary booth in central Adelaide. Tune in at 11:00am local time for the first stage tomorrow between Mawson Lakes and Angaston.


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                       

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