Stage 6 - January 20: Adelaide City Council circuit, 90km
Complete live report
Start time: 13:00
Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the sixth stage of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under. The stage is set to kick off at 1pm on what is a mild and slightly overcast day in Adelaide, with a temperature of 25 degrees celsius. After the intense dry heat of yesterday's stage (42 degrees), today's temperatures will be a welcome relief for the peloton.
The final stage of the race takes in a picturesque 4.5km loop through the parkland which borders Adelaide city, scaling the only real climb in the city some 20 times before the final sprint on King William Drive. The circuit passes churches, parks, the famous Adelaide Oval cricket ground, with the climb of Montefiore Hill coming only 1km into the circuit.
However, the climb is not enough to cause any kind of real selection in the race, and apart from any serious misfortune, AIS rider Michael Rogers should be declared the winner this afternoon. Even yesterday's stage winner, Cadel Evans (Mapei - Quick Step) admitted that the circuit does not offer enough challenges to threaten the overal lead on general classification, as Rogers has a 21 second advantage over Alexandre Botcharov (AG2R Prevoyance), who is not renown for his sprinting ability.
After yesterday's dramatic stage in the Barossa Valley, stage winner Evans - now 40 seconds behind Michael Rogers in the GC - was asked in an interview if it was too much to bring back in the criterium tomorrow. "Yes, it is. If there was another stage like (stage 5) it could have been possible, but not in a crit."
However, the sprinters should come out in force today and ensure an exciting race. So far in this year's event, Lotto-Adecco's Robbie McEwen has been winning the sprint finishes with regularity, while noted fastmen like Jan Kirsipuu (AG2R) and Danilo Hondo (Telekom) have been taking the minor placings. Will today see the revenge of the European sprinters over the fast Queenslander? It would seem that McEwen not only wants to win, he also wants to remind team management that he deserves a ride in the major tours this year.
13:00 - 0km
The riders rolled off the starting line on King William Road at exactly 13:00 in Adelaide, with large crowds and into a sea of colour and noise. At the start of lap 2 with only 4.5km covered a group of six had gone clear and managed to create a lead of 200 metres over the peloton. This group included Jakob Piil (CSC - Tiscali), Corey Sweet (UniSA), Koos Moerenhout (Domo Farm Frites), Brad Davidson (Saeco-Longoni Sport), Anthony Langella (Crédit Agricole) and Gorik Gardeyn (Lotto Adecco).
One of the favoured sprinters for this stage is Jans Koerts, the Dutch national champion with Domo Farm Frites. Prior to the start, he told Cyclingnews' Jeff Jones "I hope it's my day. I think it (the peloton) will be split up, or maybe it will be a bunch sprint, but it's 20 times up the hill and if you put in a big effort it's hard to recover for the sprint."
13:27 - 22.5km, lap 5
A group of 21 had formed by lap 5 and built up a lead of 15 seconds. This group includes riders such as Robbie McEwen (Lotto Adecco) and mid-way through lap they were reduced to 20, after David Kopp (Telekom) crashed when he clipped McEwen's rear wheel.
But by the end of lap 5, the peloton had caught the break, which prompted an immediate response by Saeco rider Fabio Sacchi and Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) from Mapei. Overall, Saeco are riding very aggressively on the front, while Mapei are also taking an interest.
13:33 - lap 6
The Saeco and Mapei rider were brought back, but shortly after another group of sixe went clear, including Brad Davidson (Saeco-Longoni Sport), Biagio Conte (Saeco-Longoni Sport), Stuart O'Grady (Crédit Agricole), Allan Davis (Australian Institute Of Sport), Hans De Clercq (Lotto Adecco), Fred Rodriguez (Domo Farm Frites) and Paul Van Hyfte (CSC - Tiscali). However, Allan Davis (AIS) punctured and got a quick wheel change and begun to chase back on. This group was building a lead of 15 seconds.
13:45 - lap 9
By the time the riders had reached the first intermediate sprint at the end of lap 8, the peloton had almost reformed but was strung out along King William Road. The sprint honours went to Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole) took the honours ahead of Jans Koerts (Domo Farm Frites) and Biagio Conte (Saeco-Longoni Sport). Immediately after the sprint, another break formed which included three Domo farm Frites riders, who appear to be looking to make something of the final stage.
13:55 - lap 11
Stuart O'Grady was leading a serious looking break which had built up a lead of 35 seconds on the peloton. The group included 14 riders such as Kai Hundertmarck (Telekom), Brad Davidson (Saeco-Longoni Sport), Matt Wilson (La Française Des Jeux), Hans De Clercq (Lotto Adecco), Servais Knaven (Domo Farm Frites), Jans Koerts (Domo Farm Frites), Fred Rodriguez (Domo Farm Frites), Bram Tankink (Domo Farm Frites), Luca Paolini (Mapei Quick Step), Luke Roberts (UniSA), Fabio Sacchi (Saeco-Longoni Sport), Paul Van Hyfte (CSC - Tiscali) and Thierry Loder (AG2r-Prevoyance).
14:01 - lap 12
Servais Knaven (Domo Farm Frites) led the bunch across the start finish line for the beginning of lap 12 but on the previous lap the peloton had reeled in the break-away group and the field was back together.
The results of the first KOM sprint on lap 10 are in and young Brad Davidson (Saeco-Longoni Sport) took the win, ahead of Stuart O'Grady (Crédit Agricole), Servais Knaven (Domo Farm Frites), Hans De Clercq (Lotto Adecco) and Paul Van Hyfte (CSC - Tiscali).
The next intermediate sprint at the end of lap 12 at the 52km mark went to Christian Pepoli (Saeco-Longoni Sport) Andrea Tafi (Mapei Quick Step) and Steffen Wesemann (Telekom).
14:17 - lap 15
Another break had gone clear after a couple of laps, and as they group came across to the line to commence lap 15 the riders included Thierry Loder (AG2r-Prevoyance), Jakob Piil (CSC - Tiscali), David Kopp (Telekom), Frederick Guesdon (La Française Des Jeux), Tomas Konecny (Domo Farm Frites), Steve Cunningham (UniSA) and Gerrit Glomser (Saeco-Longoni Sport). The lead was hovering at the 10 second mark and more riders were trying to bridge across.
14:29 - lap 17
As the peloton came across the start/finish line at the end of lap 16, the peloton had reformed, courtesy of some hard work on the front by Lotto Adecco, who are clearly trying to set up a stage win for Robbie McEwen.
The results for the second KOM sprint on lap 15 are as follows: Peter Dawson (United Water), Jaan Kirsipuu (AG2r-Prevoyance), Russell Van Hout (UniSA), Frederick Guesdon (La Française Des Jeux) and Paul Van Hyfte (CSC - Tiscali).
14:14 - lap 19
As the peloton started lap 19, Andrea Tafi (Mapei - Quick Step) attacked
off the front and went clear. But it seems that not even Tafi can break
free and he is brought back by the bunch on the penultimate ascent of
14:45 - lap 20
At the start of the final lap, Tafi attacks again! But the bunch is having none of it and he is brought back. The Domo squad are on the front and looking to set up Jans Koerts for a stage victory - it seems like the final sprint will be a battle of the Belgians squads, with Lotto Adecco likely to try and move Robbie McEwen into a good position.
14: 51 - finish
Domo lead for the final lap and have Jans Koerts in a good position as the peloton goes over Montefiore Hill for the final time. As the peloton come onto War Memorial Drive the La Française Des Jeux squad moves into position and has their sprinter, Baden Cooke, in a good position for the finish but McEwen is in there, close to Cooke's wheel.
The FDJ squad crank it up for the sprint and give Cooke the lead out, but he's not expecting to have McEwen on his wheel.
With the finish line in sight, Cooke goes hard, McEwen jumps out and comes around Cooke, while CSC rider Julian Dean follows McEwen. In the final dash for the line, it's McEwen again! Dean takes second and Cooke gets third.
The results of the finale stage are: Robbie McEwen (Lotto Adecco), Julian Dean (CSC - Tiscali) and Baden Cooke (La Française Des Jeux).
Following his fourth win in the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, Robbie McEwen told Cyclingnews' Karen Forman "my team-mates did a great job on the last lap. Stefan (Van Dijk) rode on the front and never let up.
"I never expected to come here and win four stages," he said. "People were coming up to me and asking if I was going to win again today, and four out of six ain't bad. I was feeling confident going into it and I felt sure my team would be there. In the last eight days I have picked up 145 UCI points, which puts me into the top 50 or 60 on the UCI's rankings, my highest rank ever."
Michael Rogers (Australian Insititute of Sport) safely finished the stage in the peloton and was delighted to have secured the overall win for the Tour. He even had the spare bike from the spectator (see story) which he used yesterday on the roof of the car "for good luck" in today's stage, but was back on his own Colnago after mechanics repaired it after yesterday's accident.
"Two years ago I won stage here, but I couldn't get over the hills. Now I've developed more as a rider and it's great to win."