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

Australia, January 17-22, 2006

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Stage 4 - Saturday, January 21: Willunga - Willunga, 147km

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Les Clarke

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 11:00 ACDT
Estimated finish: 14:44 ACDT

10:58 CST   
Welcome to the penultimate stage of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, where it just keeps on getting hotter. Today we're in Willunga for what will probably be the deciding stage: 147 km including three laps of the Aldinga Beach circuit before the final circuit incorporating Willunga Hill, a 3 km climb averaging 7.5 percent. Traditionally, this is where the race is decided, and we can expect a tough battle between defending champ Luis Sanchez (Liberty Seguros) and tour leader Simon Gerrans (Ag2r). Many are predicting that Sanchez will be able to drop Gerro on the climb, but you can never write the little Aussie from Mansfield off.

Temperatures are predicted to hit 42 degrees Celsius today, and that is going to make things tough. Sanchez is sporting bandages after his skin peeled off several times as a result of "acclimatising" to the Australian sun. There's only one way to do that: put as much 30+ on as possible and cover up!

11:06 CST   
The stage starts with a 2 km neutral section to allow the riders and caravan to exit Willunga, stage left. They then head out along Aldinga road towards the beach, then do a short section along the beach front before turning inland again and heading back to Willunga via McLaren Vale. Each circuit is just under 40 km, and the pace is usually on from the gun.

There are two sprints today, at km 58.8 and km 100.7, both in Aldinga Beach. The KOM climb is on Willunga Hill, after 127.4 km.

The wind today is from the south east, it looks like, so they'll have a headwind on the climb.

11:09 CST    5km/142km to go
They're racing in stage four, and as usual, the attacks string out the peloton along Aldinga Road.

11:14 CST   
The field rides through the vineyards of McLaren Vale as the heat is intense and the wind very challenging. It's going to be a long day. The terrain is flat and dry.

Race leader Simon Gerrans (Ag2r) told us that, "It's going to be a scorcher today but everyone's suffering in the same conditions. We knew today was going to be the decider so we'll be going out to put ourselves up there."

Gerrans' Ag2r team has been on the front for most of the last two stages. "They've worked really well and done a fantastic job. I couldn't ask for anything more. Today we'll just try and get over the top first and I'll be there with them. Today I'll just stick to Sanchez, stay on his wheel all the way up the hill and to the finish."

That's the plan for Gerro.

11:19 CST    10km/137km to go
Yesterday's winner, Carlos Barredo, was on the attack again after 7 km, but he was brought back. Liberty's game plan will again be to put pressure on Ag2r right up until the climb.

11:21 CST    12km/135km to go
After 10 km, we have three riders clear: Henk Vogels (Davitamon Lotto), Hilton Clarke and David O'Loughlin (Navigators Insurance). They have a small gap on a group of eight, with the peloton close behind.

11:29 CST    19km/128km to go
The breaks all come back.

The bunch is riding along the beach front now and there are plenty of bikinis out (not being worn by the riders). There's a split in the field, but it comes back together.

Dimitri De Fauw (Chocolade Jacques) attacks and is joined by 10 riders.

11:34 CST    21km/126km to go
There's been a crash! Riders hit the deck after 21 km, including Serge Pauwels (Chocolade Jacques). Meanwhile, more attacks are going off the front of the peloton.

11:38 CST    24km/123km to go
Ag2r is controlling the field as breakaways form and come back.

The riders in the crash were Nicola Loda (Liquigas), Serge Pauwels (Chocolade Jacques) and Henk Vogels (Davitamon Lotto). Only Vogels is back in the peloton.

11:43 CST   
Allan Davis, from Liberty Seguros, reckons that his team will be able to deliver Sanchez to the line in first place today. "We're not feeling too bad and the boys are pulling up well after every stage," he said. "It's going to be very hard. There'll be lots of bonus seconds tomorrow, so we'll see how it goes. We came here with the objective of the overall win and Luis wants to come away with a victory."

11:45 CST    27km/120km to go
After 27 km, a break of 14 riders has 23 seconds on the main field. Several teams are well represented, with the break containing:

Aaron Kemps, Jose Joaquin Rojas (Liberty Seguros), Jose Luis Arrieta, Sylvain Calzati (Ag2r - Prevoyance), Johan Vansummeren, Nick Gates (Davitamon Lotto), Manuel Quinziato, Michael Albasini (Liquigas), Glenn d'Hollander, Frederick Willems (Chocolade Jacques), Glen Chadwick, Sergey Lagutin, Phil Zajicek (Navigators Insurance), James Meadley (South Australia.com - AIS).

11:48 CST   
Notable absences from the break are Credit Agricole, Milram, Bouygues, UniSA and United Water. Ag2r is got a couple riders up here though.

Glenn d'Hollander is the best placed, in 11th overall at 4'40. Also Lagutin is at 5'24 and Meadley and Kemps are at 12'14.

11:50 CST    30km/117km to go
Daniele Colli (Liquigas) and Serge Pauwels (Chocolade Jacques) have abandoned after 30 km. They were involved in a crash earlier.

11:57 CST    35km/112km to go
The break has grown to 16 riders after 35 km, and they have a 1'50 gap as they near the end of the first lap.

The run-down: Aaron Kemps, Jose Joaquin Rojas (Liberty Seguros), Jose Luis Arrieta, Sylvain Calzati (Ag2r - Prevoyance), Johan Vansummeren, Nick Gates (Davitamon Lotto), Simone Cadamuro (Milram), Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), Rony Martias (Bouygues Telecom), Glenn d'Hollander, Frederick Willems (Chocolade Jacques), Glen Chadwick, Sergey Lagutin, Phil Zajicek (Navigators Insurance), James Meadley (South Australia.com - AIS), Russell Van Hout (Uni SA - Australia).

11:59 CST    37km/110km to go
Elia Rigotto (Milram), Matthew Lloyd (South Australia.com - AIS), Paul Crake (Uni SA - Australia) and Mitch Docker (United Water - Australia U/23) are trying to bridge up to the 16 leaders. Going to be hard though, with that gap.

12:02 CST    39km/108km to go
Credit Agricole and United Water are now the only teams without riders in the front group, although Mitch Docker is in the chase group for United Water. Interestingly, both Liberty and Ag2r have riders up there.

They're heading into Willunga for the completion of the first lap, and the sun-baked crowd gives them a big cheer. They might have to be careful of their shoes though, because the molten tar put paid to a few pairs of shoes yesterday in Yankalilla!

12:08 CST    42km/105km to go
The 16 leaders have upped their advantage to 4'02 over the main peloton, which means that Glenn d'Hollander is within 40 seconds of the virtual ochre leader's jersey. The chasing four are at 1'17.

12:17 CST    48km/99km to go
Nicola Loda (Liquigas) has also abandoned, along with Colli and Pauwels.

The leading 16 have lost some of their advantage, and it's down to 3'12. But the chasing four aren't making any ground, and are still at 1'15. The temps are hovering at around 37 - almost body temperature.

12:19 CST    53km/94km to go
A new time check, after 53 km (they're really hammering today). The leaders have 5'55 over the main field, which puts d'Hollander in the leader's jersey by 1'15. The leaders are on Aldinga Beach Rd for the second time, heading towards the first intermediate sprint.

12:20 CST   
One rider in the break, Aaron Kemps (Liberty) told us today that, "We'll just follow any moves that go clear and have a go on Willunga Hill. We've put all our eggs in one basket, but we think we're strong enough to do it.

"Luis is confident that he'll be able to ride away. Gerrans made it to the top in the front group last year, so obviously we'll be keeping our eyes on him. The wind will make it a bit harder, but we think it'll be ok. We hope the race stays together so we can get our team on the front. Arg2r are looking a little tired after the work they've done recently, but we're looking good."

12:27 CST    58km/89km to go
Gerrans' (and Sanchez' for that matter) GC ambitions are coming a little unstuck as this big break of 16 rides out to a 7'36 advantage. That gives Glenn d'Hollander a 3'00 gap over Gerrans on the virtual GC. Things can change, as we know, but there are some tired legs in the peloton, and Ag2r and Liberty probably don't want to chase down a break with their teammates in it. They might have to, though.

The chasing quartet are still stranded at 1'10.

There's a Tiger Moth plane flying over Aldinga Beach.

12:35 CST   
We've just got some results of the final round in the Adelaide Advertiser women's series at Aldinga Beach. Liv Gollan (NSW) triumphed over Alexis Rhodes (SA), Sally Cowman (Qld), Kate Bates (NSW) and Jenny MacPherson (Vic). The latter is the overall winner of this very lucrative series.

12:37 CST    61km/86km to go
After 61 km, the break has grown to 20 riders, with the chasing four managing to bridge the gap after the first sprint.

The results of the sprint: 1. Rony Martias (Bouygues Telecom), 2. Phil Zajicek (Navigators Insurance), and 3. Glen Chadwick (Navigators Insurance).

The full break is now: Aaron Kemps, Jose Joaquin Rojas (Liberty Seguros), Jose Luis Arrieta, Sylvain Calzati (Ag2r - Prevoyance), Johan Vansummeren, Nick Gates (Davitamon Lotto), Simone Cadamuro (Milram), Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), Rony Martias (Bouygues Telecom), Elia Rigotto (Milram), Glenn d'Hollander, Frederick Willems (Chocolade Jacques), Glen Chadwick, Sergey Lagutin, Phil Zajicek (Navigators Insurance), James Meadley and Matthew Lloyd (South Australia.com - AIS), Russell Van Hout and Paul Crake (Uni SA - Australia), Mitch Docker (United Water - Australia U/23).

Credit Agricole is the only team without a rider up in front.

12:39 CST   
The gap is up to 8'47 as Liberty and Ag2r control the field.

12:48 CST    70km/77km to go
The Belgian journalists are enjoying themselves today, as Glenn d'Hollander is the man in virtual ochre. Chocolade Jacques team manager Walter Planckaert says that Glenn feels better now and is looking forward to having a go.

12:55 CST   
Credit Agricole have missed the break today, but that wasn't the plan, according to Mark Renshaw: "We were already on the back foot when we lost Patrice [Halgand] but we're going alright with Botcharov in the break yesterday and we'll see if we can get in any breaks again today."

13:03 CST    74km/73km to go
The stage has settled down a little, as the front 20 continue to ride hard in pursuit of at least a stage win. For some, including Glenn d'Hollander and Sergey Lagutin, there's a chance of overall victory.

At the halfway point, the gap has come back to 7'40 as Ag2r and Liberty control the bunch.

Peter Dawson (South Australia.com - AIS) has been dropped from the peloton and will probably withdraw. It's hot out there.

13:08 CST    77km/70km to go
The gap drops to 7'15 as they approach the start of the final beach circuit. This is smart riding by Ag2r and Liberty, who could find their men up the road very handy after Gerrans and Sanchez get over Willunga Hill. Having teammates there to help them to the finish could be crucial. But the gap will have to come down a bit more before they're within striking distance, unless the Ag2r/Liberty guys in the break sit up.

13:11 CST   
It's the hottest day of the JCTDU so far, which means 42 degrees Celsius on parts of the course. The wind has picked up to around 50 km/h.

Peter Dawson has abandoned.

13:19 CST    92km/55km to go
The 20 leaders pass through 92 km, well into the final lap, and they still have a healthy advantage over the main peloton. Navigators director Ed Beamon is particularly happy with his three riders in the break and says the riders are really affected by the heat more than any other day.

13:23 CST    96km/51km to go
The gap is coming down now as Ag2r and Liberty crank it up behind. We're nearly halfway through lap 3, and it's 6'45. d'Hollander has roughly two minutes to play with on virtual GC, and he'll definitely need all of that once he gets to Willunga Hill.

13:30 CST    100km/47km to go
Ivan Santos (Liberty Seguros) has withdrawn from the race.

The gap is 6'18 and falling as the field races through 95 km. Meanwhile, the leaders have passed the second sprint point in Aldinga Beach, with Glen Chadwick (Navigators Insurance) taking it out ahead of Russell Van Hout (Uni SA - Australia) and Phil Zajicek (Navigators Insurance).

13:36 CST    105km/42km to go
The leaders make the turn back towards Mclaren Vale, with the peloton in hot pursuit. It's 5'35 between the two groups as Glenn d'Hollander punctures in the break! But he gets back on - that could have been disastrous for the Jacques rider.

13:39 CST   
Watch the time gap fall as the leaders appear to be sitting up. The sting has gone out of the attack as Ag2r and Liberty wind it up behind.

The cow report
No cows of note have been spotted so far today. The cow spotting team apologises for this, but what can you do? The smart Friesians are probably in the shade.

13:41 CST   
Robbie McEwen, who is still in third overall, commented that "It's been a very hot Tour Down Under, which has made it hard. The Europeans must have a mild winter or a pretty good training plan because they don't seem to be suffering the effects of the heat! We expected it to come down to today so you've just got to put yourself in the right moves."

13:46 CST    108km/39km to go
The field is now past 105 km, and has clawed back the gap to 5'05. Glenn's time in virtual ochre (is that really a colour?) is limited. He has 25 seconds effective lead over Gerrans at the moment, and that will melt like the tar on the roads when he reaches Willunga Hill. But, there's still a chance for him to improve his GC spot.

13:52 CST    113km/34km to go
It's under five minutes now as the bunch closes in on the break at 4'53. One of these 20 could still win, of course, but it's now unlikely that Gerrans (or Sanchez) will lose the lead.

Fans are holding up signs saying 'It's 40 degrees!' and it sure is, if not more. It's very dry heat too, which really burns your throat and eyes.

13:58 CST    116km/31km to go
Rony Martias (Bouygues Telecom) is the first rider to attack the break as the gap falls to 4'20. It's now or never - they don't want the bunch to close to them.

14:00 CST   
One rider looking to do well today is Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto). He punished the break on the climb out of Victor Harbor yesterday to take the KOM points and move into the jersey. And today he'll be looking for more points on Willunga.

"I know the Willunga climb pretty well. It's hard getting there with the wind, but I'm sure I will get there and have a go," he told us.

Can Liberty be beaten? "After the way they rode last year, it's going to be tough. But we will see what we can do to beat them."

14:02 CST    120km/27km to go
The third lap is over, and the leaders race through Willunga towards the foot of the hill. It's 3 km at 7.6 percent, and it's going to be tough. Martias has 20 seconds on the rest of the break, and 4'00 over the main field.

14:08 CST    123km/24km to go
Martias pounds away as he nears the foot of Willunga Hill, cheered on by the baking spectators.

14:12 CST    124km/23km to go
Martias has been caught as the break explodes on the climb. Paul Crake and Russell Van Hout (Uni SA - Australia) are leading, with a small gap.

14:15 CST    125km/22km to go
They're halfway up the climb now with Crake and Van Hout leading Johan Vansummeren (Davitamon Lotto), Elia Rigotto (Milram), Glen Chadwick (Navigators Insurance), Rony Martias (Bouygues Telecom) and Matthew Lloyd (South Australia.com - AIS).

Back in the bunch, Luis Sanchez (Liberty) has attacked! Simon Gerrans gets his wheel, but can't hold it. Sanchez has 50m.

14:17 CST    129km/18km to go
The break is over the KOM now, and en route to the finish, with Van Hout and Crake still in the lead. Sanchez has kept his 50m gap over the top of the climb with
Simon Gerrans, Sylvain Calzati (Ag2r - Prevoyance) and Shaun Higgerson (South Australia.com - AIS) in hot pursuit! This is going to be close.

14:19 CST   
This is going to be a very tight finish, and it looks like most of the big breakaway will stay away. But there's still 15 km to go. Sanchez is doing his best to hold off Gerrans, Calzati and Higgo behind him - he only needs seven seconds to catch Gerrans on GC.

14:21 CST    131km/16km to go
KOM results: Russell Van Hout (Uni SA - Australia), Paul Crake (Uni SA - Australia), Matthew Lloyd (South Australia.com - AIS), Johan Vansummeren (Davitamon Lotto) and Rony Martias (Bouygues Telecom).

Sanchez is catching the remnants of the break, as Gerrans is joined by another teammate Jose Luis Arrieta. Sanchez leads that group by 100m.

14:22 CST   
Sanchez has 10 seconds on the Gerro group at 130 km and looking good. But it's not over until Willunga. Sanchez should have help from Kemps and Rojas, who were in the break.

Meanwhile, Crake and Van Hout are doing their best to pull off a UniSA 1-2 stage win.

14:25 CST    134km/13km to go
Russ and Paul, to refer to them by their first names, have a 41 second advantage over a group with Johan Vansummeren (Davitamon Lotto), Elia Rigotto (Milram), Glen Chadwick (Navigators Insurance), Rony Martias (Bouygues Telecom), and Matthew Lloyd (South Australia.com - AIS). Great riding by the two UniSA riders.

But the main battle is for the jersey, between Luis Sanchez and Simon Gerrans. The gap between those two is still not more than 10 seconds.

14:29 CST   
The two leaders are driving it for all they are worth, and it will hopefully net them a stage win in theJacob's Creek Tour Down Under in Willunga. Van Hout, the Australian champion, and Crake, who just missed out on a stage the other day, are both strong riders in the finale.

14:30 CST   
This will also probably secure UniSA's place in the teams classification, depending on how Liberty rides.

14:31 CST    139km/8km to go
The first chasers behind Van Hout and Crake are down to four as Matthew Lloyd (South Australia.com - AIS) is first dropped, then crashes on a descent.

Gerrans is past 10 km to go, but still pursuing Sanchez.

14:34 CST    142km/5km to go
Van Hout and Crake pass five clicks to go with an unbeatable 50 second lead on the chase group. Sanchez, we believe, still leads the Gerrans group by 10 seconds. We'll find out very soon as the race reaches its climax.

14:37 CST   
Van Hout and Crake are into the final few kilometres as they near the town of Willunga, where they will get a popular welcome as the first and second place getters in this stage.

14:38 CST    147km/0km to go
And it's Russell Van Hout (UniSA) who takes out the fourth stage!! Crake has to settle for second, again.

14:48 CST   
We are still waiting for the third place getter and the official GC results. Don't worry, we haven't forgotten!

14:50 CST   
Rony Martias (Bouygues Telecom) has taken third place in the stage, but we're still awaiting the results of the Gerrans/Sanchez duel.

14:51 CST   
And Simon Gerrans has kept the leader's jersey, after catching Sanchez in the final kilometres!! He goes into tomorrow's finale with a fairly comfy 7 second buffer. Great ride by him and the Ag2r boys.

14:57 CST   
It also looks like Robbie McEwen has held onto his third place overall. We're not sure yet whether Will Walker is still in fourth, but the full results will be posted within an hour or so.

That wraps it up at the end of another hot, exciting day from the JCTDU. It was a great stage and the first time that an early break has stayed away in the Willunga stage. Full credit to Gerro and his team for pulling back Sanchez, who had escaped on the climb.

We'll be back at 1:30pm local time tomorrow with the final stage of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, the Adelaide city circuit. Until then!


1 Russell Van Hout (Aus) UniSA-Australia              3.32.54
2 Paul Crake (Aus) UniSA-Australia                         
3 Rony Martias (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                    1.03
4 Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                 
5 Glen Chadwick (Aus) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team    
6 Elia Rigotto (Ita) Team Milram                           
7 Simone Cadamuro (Ita) Team Milram                      1.13
8 Aaron Kemps (Aus) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team             
9 Mitchell Docker (Aus) United Water-Australia U/23      1.22
10 Glenn d'Hollander (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-T Interim   1.25

General classification after stage 4

1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Ag2r Prevoyance                   
2 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 0.07
3 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                    0.18


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