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10th Tour Down Under - ProT

Australia, January 20-27, 2008

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Stage 4 - Friday, January 25: Mannum - Strathalbyn, 134km

Complete live report

16:18 CST   
Please join us on Friday, January 25, 2008, for the fourth stage of the 2008 Tour Down Under, a 134 run from Mannum to Strathalbyn. Coming after stage 3, it's likely to be another hard-fought race given that only 12 seconds separates the top 10 riders on GC.

11:04 CST   
Good morning and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of the fourth stage of the Tour Down Under, a 134 stretch from Mannum out to Strathalbyn. Today will be slightly warmer than previous days, with a maximum of 33 degrees expected.

11:11 CST    3km/131km to go
This morning we spoke to TV commentator and 'voice of cycling', Phil Ligget, who said, "I honestly don't know who will win today, it's open to anyone. I'd like to see a bigger break go down the road". Meanwhile, Team CSC's Stuart O'Grady believes that yesterday's stage winner is in a good place to secure the overall victory. "I'm feeling better as the kilometres go by. I'm 10 percent better than I was at the start, " he said, referring to his gradual recovery from horrific injuries sustained in last year's tour de France. "I think Allan Davis (UniSA - Australia) is in a really strong position to win the event."

11:14 CST    5km/129km to go
Shortly after the start there was a flurry of attacks and it was Frantisek Rabon (Cze) from Team High Road and Dmytro Grabovskyy (Ukr)
of quick Step who managed to establish a small lead. They have been joined by Luke Roberts of UniSA - Australia and then riders from Bouygues Telecom and Liquigas.

11:16 CST    6km/128km to go
And then by the sixth kilometre, they were all back together. There is a gradual uphill drag from the start until the town of Palmer, and from there it increases in steepness and leads to the first KoM of the stage at 20km.

11:17 CST    8km/126km to go
The constant uphill gradient from the start is already taking its toll. The peloton has split into three - there are 10 riders away the front, then a group of 30-40, then the remainder of the peloton strung out in single file.

11:19 CST    9km/125km to go
The two groups at the front joined together and behind this large front group, the remainder of the peloton is going very hard to get back on. Phew. Here's a good heart-starter. Evgeny Sokolov (Rus) from Bouygues Teleocm is in trouble, going out the back.

11:22 CST    10km/124km to go
And the Bouygues Telecom rider, Evgeny Sokolov from Russia, has abandoned. Ahead of him the peloton has reformed but it's gutter-hugging riding as there is a stiff crosswind blowing from the riders' right-to-left, pushing them into the left-hand shoulder of the road. Hard going this morning until a group goes clear. Nick Gates (Aus) from Silence - Lotto was dangling off the back there for a while, but he's got back on.

11:24 CST    12km/122km to go
And another group has made its way off the front. And it now has 25 seconds on the peloton. It includes Nicki Sorensen (Den) from Team CSC, Mathieu Perget (Fra) from Caisse D'Epargne and Simon Clarke (Aus) of UniSA - Australia. Good to see the French riders maintaining their attacking style - they have been in every break so far.

11:31 CST    14km/120km to go
It looks like a rider from Saunier-Duval Scott is trying to make his way across, could be Arkaitz Duran Daroca (Spa). He has managed to get a 20 second gap on the peloton, while our three leaders now have a 40 second lead on the peloton. Behind them, Adam Hansen (Aus) from Team High Road has a flat and needs a rear wheel. Bad timing for a flat.

11:32 CST    17km/117km to go
OK - they're on the climb and it is Duran from Spain (Saunier-Duval) who's made contact with our three leaders. The gap to the peloton has come down to 30 seconds.

11:34 CST    18km/116km to go
Hansen of Team High Road has got back on after a quick wheel change, and to get back on he's passing other riders going out the back on the climb. Ouch.

11:36 CST    20km/114km to go
The peloton just went past the KoM sprint at 20 seconds to our four leaders, who are now on a short descent and then they face another climb. It is a stage that can favour a break, as the Stage 4 profile is far from flat.

11:39 CST    22km/112km to go
Our leaders have stretched the gap back out to 35 seconds, and this is to a chase group that's gone off the front of the main peloton, which trails a few hundred metres behind.

11:44 CST    26km/108km to go
And our four leaders have been caught by what was a 'chasing group' but is now actually half the peloton, so basically, the field has split in two.

11:49 CST    27km/107km to go
So with an ever-so-slight lull in the main field part 1, two riders took off. We have Nicolas Crosbie (Fra) of Bouygues Telecom, who's been active all week, and Tom Stubbe (Bel) of Francaise Des Jeux. A few hundred metres down the road and David Moncoutie (Fra) of Cofidis got across, too. Go the French. Make a race of it, lads.

11:50 CST    29km/105km to go
And they're all back together, so that's another good go off the front that hasn't succeeded. Waiting on the time gap to the main field part 2. And the results of that first KoM, too.

11:55 CST    31km/103km to go
The time gap between the two groups of rider - and there is about 60 riders in the main field - is now at 1.15. There are riders trying to get across from that large, second group. We're waiting to determine who's in the first group and if it contains the leaders.

11:57 CST    33km/101km to go
Obviously, there are some quality riders in that second group as it's eating into the gap and gradually coming back - the team cars are being ordered out of the way ... looks like it will come back together.

12:00 CST    34km/100km to go
The field is back together and that scare of a major split averted. Well, it would have made it interesting had they stayed away.

12:03 CST    35km/99km to go
And things aren't too quiet for long, as Willy Walker from Rabobank has attacked. Earlier today, the young Australian rider told us, "I am feeling good and we will try and get the (leader's) jersey back today. There might be some breaks so we will try and get in those," he said to Cyclingnews Paul Verkuylen.

12:04 CST    37km/97km to go
Willy's a wee bit too dangerous to be allowed any space, so he's brought back after a good flurry. So now riders from Lampre and Liquigas have a dig.

12:07 CST    40km/94km to go
The field is still in one piece, and earlier, Stuart O’Grady (Aus) from Team CSC and Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) from Credit Agricole were brought down but they have now re-joined.

12:14 CST    46km/88km to go
After his tumble, Stuey had a dig off the front and was joined by Jose Ivan Gutierrez of Caisse D'Epargne. But they didn't get far as the peloton wound up the pace in time for the first intermediate sprint a couple of k's down the road.

12:16 CST    47km/87km to go
And just before the first sprint, the peloton has split in two - again. The sprinters' teams are winding it up. Four riders are within 2 points of each other in the sprinters' competition.

12:20 CST    49km/85km to go
Shortly after the sprint, Jeremy Roy (Fra) of Francaise Des Jeux attacked the main field. He was then joined by Stuey O'Grady and Nicolas Hartmann (Fra) of Cofidis ... they have 100m on the peloton.

12:22 CST    50km/84km to go
... and then they don't. It's unlikely that O'Grady would be allowed to escape with only two attempts. The little tumble before must have made him feel a lot better, as he was only saying earlier today how he's gradually improving with every stage.

12:26 CST    54km/80km to go
All this attacking is taking its toll and again, the main field splits in two, and it's warmer today, plus there are crosswinds. It looks like there are 60-70 riders in the front group and it has a 500-metre lead. We're coming up to the second intermediate sprint at Woodside ... still waiting on the official results of the KoM and first sprint.

12:34 CST    58km/76km to go
We have the results of the KoM sprint in near Palmer, and it was Arkaitz Duran (Spa) of Saunier Duval - Scott, followed by Mathieu Perget (Fra) of Caisse D'Epargne, then Nicki Sorensen (Den) of Team CSC, Simon Clarke (Aus) of UniSA - Australia and Philippe Gilbert (Bel) of FDJ. So this should help the Belgian, Gilbert, retain his mountains jersey.

12:37 CST    62km/72km to go
And now for the sprint results. The first intermediate sprint in Mt Torrens after 48kms was taken out by Allan Davis of UniSA, then Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) of Caisse D'Epargne, and then Gilbert (again) of FDJ. Alby sprinting against Sanchez and Gilbert? Easy ... I say that but the neutral service vehicle is having a very busy day.

12:42 CST    65km/69km to go
The results of the second sprint at 60km into the stage in Woodside saw Jan Robert Forster (Ger) of Gerolsteiner take the points, ahead of Mark Renshaw from Credit Agricole and then Mikel Astarloza of Euskaltel - Euskadi. The pace and conditions are really taking their toll on the field, as it's split in two - again! This time the front group is about 20 riders strong, while there is a second chase group of 40 containing the ocher leader's jersey, and it's got away from (what's left of) the peloton. The warmer conditions are taking their toll today.

12:44 CST    68km/66km to go
Our reporters out on the course today say there are fewer people spectating, but still many are out there, taking shade under trees in the sparsely vegetated rural landscape. The peloton went past an army barracks and all the soldiers lined the route, dressed in their fatigues, cheering the riders on. Our lead group of 20 has about 20 seconds to the chase group containing the leader. The Shimano neutral service motorcycle is doing a roring trade handing out bidons.

12:48 CST    70km/64km to go
The gap between the two groups is coming down - rapidly - as the race leader Renshaw is in the second group. Today's stage isn't really turning out as expected; perhaps even the riders thought that a repeat of the three previous days would be too much.

12:51 CST    73km/61km to go
And the two front groups containing all the main contenders are back together, although there has been a large bunch of riders shelled out the back and they will struggle to make contact. It seems this second group is almost two minutes behind the leading group.

13:00 CST    80km/54km to go
Javier Aramendia of Euskaltel - Euskadi has attacked the lead group while Graeme Brown (Rabobank) has requested the race doctor provide him with some eye drops. Brown is dangling off the back of the main group while other riders in this front group get bidons and nibbles from team cars. And a big shout-out today to UniSA's Luke Roberts, who celebrates his birthday today. "I'm sure with it being my birthday, all the other guys are going to let me win," he said. (He was joking.)

13:02 CST    82km/52km to go
The EE rider Aramendia looks like he's got a minute on the lead group. We're not sure how far back the second group has dropped, or who it contains.

13:06 CST    84km/50km to go
Aramendia now has 1.35 to the peloton but Mark Renshaw and main challenger, Alby Davis, would be thinking, "no worries, he's 4.20 down on GC". Actually, Davis is probably being told that by team manager Dave Sanders over race radio and I think this 22 year-old Spanish rider may get his day in the sun.

13:08 CST    86km/48km to go
Yep. That gap for Aramendia is now 2.20. Back with UniSA, this morning Karl Menzies told CN that, "we have got someone like Allan Davis to ride for so team motivation is high". Yesterday, Menzies and Luke Roberts combined really well to launch their team leader Davis into the final sprint, which Alby took out comfortably in the end.

13:14 CST    90km/44km to go
And Aramendia's lead has now grown to 3.20. Perhaps he enjoys the hot weather, as our reporters out on the course have noticed that it's much warmer today compared to previous days. Behind the young Spaniard the peloton has reformed as those stragglers did get back and Credit Agricole patrols the front.

13:18 CST    93km/41km to go
Aramendia has a gap of 3.20 and it seems the peloton is being instructed to give him no more. (We can return to yesterday's race radios discussion later.) Paul Verkuylen from Cyclingnews is out on the course and he said, "it's wide, open rolling hills, no trees and hot ... good for a Spaniard".

13:26 CST    95km/39km to go
Yep, Aramendia's gap remains at 3.20 to the main field. Some of our readers have predicted that today would probably pan out like the others, with a few attacks and then a group of three or four going up the road, being pulled back within 3km of the line, and another bunch kick. However, perhaps I did not properly share the weather conditions for today - it has become quite warm out there, and there's some wind, so a break on a day like this is very hard work.

13:31 CST    99km/35km to go
A solo break on a hot, dry and windy day suits certain riders, like those from Spain, and especially when they're not a threat on GC to the main contenders. After 99km of racing, Aramendia's gap is still at 3.25. Dan Belling wrote in with more comments about race radios: "To expand on my comments yesterday regarding race radios. The radio, in races that are not 'really tough', in my view limits the overall effort required of the riders because you lose the entire impact of 'out-sight/out-of-mind' The calculations are done in the car, with a laptop plotting the vectors and not the racers putting out the effort. No longer does a team 'waste' any effort because they know exactly how much is required to reel in the break groups". Then Dan asks: "Am I the only one that misses the ambiguity and excitement of wondering 'if' and not when they will be caught - which again will be with 3km to go."

13:34 CST    103km/31km to go
The main field recently passed through the main feed zone while up the road, our solo leader enjoyed one-on-one service from his team car. He's extended his lead to just over 4 minutes, while back in the bunch, Rabobank and Credit Agricole are on the front, keeeping an eye on things.

13:39 CST    106km/28km to go
Well that didn't last long - Aramendia's lead is now back to 3.20. Earlier today, race leader Mark Renshaw from Credit Agricole told CN, "it's going to be another day where we control the race and we are going to have to work hard. Some teams will use the hill as an opportunity. On that first climb a good climber can take 30 seconds". As we have seen, Aramendia put in his attack well after that climb and he's been out in front, holding steady.

13:45 CST    109km/25km to go
Aramendia's gap is now down to 2.45 as the peloton gets into gear and starts to make time on the solo leader. There's no wind out there but it's just hot-hot-hot. The field is riding through vineyards heavy with fruit in the middle of an Australian summer.

13:51 CST    112km/22km to go
The lead that Javier Aramendia from Euskaltel - Euskadi had over the peloton is falling - it's now down to 2.20. He's had a good dig off the front and CN's Greg Johnson said, "he looks to be hurting badly. He's all over the road and his face is showing some pain". Aramendia has been off the front for well over 30km on a hot summer's day - it would be hard.

13:54 CST    116km/18km to go
Aramendia's gap is now only a minute - falling very quickly. He's in flat, wine-growing territory and probably makes easy prey for the chasing peloton scooting along among the vines.

13:57 CST    117km/17km to go
Aramendia now only has 40 seconds to the chasing peloton. It's been a hot day out for all.

13:59 CST    120km/14km to go
Javier is holding his lead to the main field at 40 seconds but it's probably just a matter of time before he's swept up be the peloton. Only 10 seconds separates the top 5 on general classification.

14:01 CST    124km/10km to go
There is a slight climb about 2.5km from the finish, but CN's Paul Verkuylen believes it's not big enough to make that big a difference; Aramendia's lead is now down to 20 seconds.

14:03 CST    126km/8km to go
After the climb there is a 200 metre straight and then left at a roundabout, then straight for another 200 metres, then right for 200m and then a left turn with 600 metres to go to the finish.

14:05 CST    128km/6km to go
Aramendia has been caught! With all the corners before the finish, and coming after the short but sharp climb, a solo escape could stay away, but there are some very big motors in the peloton working for their leaders.

14:11 CST    130km/4km to go
As the peloton rumbles in to town we have the sprinters' teams working on the front; High Road, UniSA, Rabobank and Team CSC. Credit Agricole isn't there yet but should soon be there. Great effort by Aramendia to stay out the front for almost 50km on a very hot day. Two riders from CSC are doing loads of work up the front.

14:13 CST    132km/2km to go
Now Team High Road gets into the thick of things, trying to set things up for Andre Greipel. He's already had a stage win plus the Down Under Classic last Sunday. And there is UniSA charging through for Allan Davis ...

14:14 CST    133km/1km to go
An Astana rider has attacked the peloton! He's got 20 metres ...

14:15 CST    133km/1km to go
Our Astana escapee is holding his 20 metre lead with UniSa on the front. The very last 200 metres is slightly uphill.

14:16 CST    134km/0km to go
The Astana came back and there's been a crash! But Brown is on the front and it looks like Greipel who comes through over Renshaw.

14:18 CST    134km/0km to go
Yes, Greipel got it over Mark Renshaw with Jose Joaquin Rojas of Caisse D'Epargne coming through in third, and it was a Rabobank rider who came down in the finale.

14:19 CST    134km/0km to go
Brown has gone back to see if his team-mate, Mat Hayman, is OK and he's on his bike but he's lost a lot of skin, and it looks like he may have a broken collarbone, too. Ouch.

14:21 CST    134km/0km to go
Hayman got back on his bike and finished the stage after such a nasty fall. He went down about 200 metres from the line, in a slight dip in the road before it kicked slightly uphill to the line.

14:28 CST   
Now, on general classification it looks like we'll be in another countback as Greipel and Renshaw are separated by four seconds on GC, and there is a four second difference in time bonuses for today's stage win (10 seconds for first, 6 seconds for second). Allan Davis from UniSA picked up an intermediate sprint today and that brings a 3 second time bonus, and although he was at 2 seconds to Renshaw on GC and during the stage was its 'virtual leader', he didn't figure in today's mad finale.

14:31 CST   
It was the hottest day out for the 10th Tour Down Under, and it also brought out some highly attacking riding. It was the young Spanish rider from Euskaltel- Euskadi, Javier Aramendia, who made the best move of the day but it was certanly a hard day's work out there in the sun, and he was caught with only 6km to go. I think we might have to wait for the official GC placings, given the close nature of the top 5 on GC. It may be another dead-heat on timing, with the leader determined by a countback of stage placings.

14:47 CST   
The provisional results and GC have been posted and there is a clear leader on GC, and it's the Australian sprinter, Mark Renshaw of Credit Agricole, who finds himself 3 seconds clear to the German powerhouse and now two-time '08 TDU stage winner on Team High Road, Andre Greipel. Thanks for joining Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 4 of the 10th Tour Down Under. Tomorrow is the really decisive stage of the Tour, including the tough climb of Old Willunga Hill - the obstacle that has always created a selection in previous Tours. It's expected that the crowds will be out for Australia Day, January 26, lining the hill to cheer on the field. Will there be a winner decided tomorrow? Of the fast men who dominate the top of the GC, the one rider who can get over climbs better than most sprinters is Allan Davis of UniSA. What better "hire me" advertisement could he make than to win the overall classication. A rider no less than Stuart O'Grady predicted that 'Alby' is in an excellent position to win, and Stuey should know. Until then, thanks for joining us and we'll be back tomorrow.

Summary

After a flurry of atttacks, a group of three managed to break free form the peloton 11km into the stage: Nicki Sorensen (Den) from Team CSC, Mathieu Perget (Fra) from Caisse D'Epargne and Simon Clarke (Aus) of UniSA - Australia. They were joined by Arkaitz Duran Daroca (Spa) from Saunier-Duval Scott and they have been working well to hold a lead of up to 35 seconds, but then a chase group left the main field and is closing in on them after 24km into the stage. This lead group of four was caught at 26km. Another trio tried to get away but it was reeled in after a few km's. The main field split in two, trying to chase down that first break, but after 37km, the second group got back on to the front group, and the field came back together - for now - as the attacks kept coming. The field split in two - again and again but after 73km, there was a definite break now of two groups on the road, separated by two minutes. The race leader was in the front group. At the 80km mark Javier Aramendia of Euskaltel - Euskadi attacked the lead group and after 48km of solo hammering, he was caught only six kilometres from the finish, after his lead had been as large as over 4 minutes. Back up the road, the whole peloton had reformed and there was another bustling finale into Strathalbyn, with the stage being taken out by Andre Greipel of Team High Road, followed by MarkRenshaw of Credit Agricole and Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne. Renshaw's second place was enough to keep him in the leader's ochre jersey until tomorrow's decisive stage at Willunga.

Provisional results of stage 4, Tour Down Under, January 25, 2008

1 Andre Greipel (Ger) Team High Road                            3.12.00
2 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Credit Agricole                                 st
3 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne                      
4 Matthew Goss (Aus) Team CSC
5 Denis Flahaut (Fra) Saunier Duval - Scott
6 Allan Davis (Aus) UniSA -  Australia                               
7 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank
8 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team CSC
9 David Vigano (Ita) Quick Step
10 Jan Robert Forster (Ger) Gerolsteiner

General Classification after Stage 4

1 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Credit Agricole                            13.25.53
2 Andre Greipel (Ger) Team High Road                                 .03
3 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank                                        .06
    
Jersey Classifications after stage 4

Tour Down Under Leader's Jersey
Mark Renshaw (Aus) Credit Agricole

SA Lotteries Sprint Jersey
Mark Renshaw (Aus) Credit Agricole

A Brilliant Blend King of the Mountains Jersey
Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Francaise Des Jeux

Hindmarsh Most Aggressive rider's Jersey (for stage 4)
Javier Aramendia Lorenti (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi

U25 Rider competition
Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) - Caisse D'Epargne

 

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