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7th Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under - 2.HC
Australia, January 18-23, 2005
Stage 5 - January 22: Willunga to Willunga, 147 km
Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Gerard Knapp, Anthony Tan and Gabriella Ekström
Complete live report
Start time: 11.03 ACDT
Welcome back to our live coverage of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under for the fifth and what is usually the decisive stage from Willunga to Willunga. Located in the wine growing district of McLaren Vale on the Fleurieu Peninsula, Willunga is always one of the most colourful towns of the JCTDU, and is a multiple winner of the highly-prized Best Dressed Town award. In fact, all the towns in today's stage try their best to outdo each other in the roadside decoration stakes, with some...interesting results.
The stage measures 147 km, taking in 3 x 40 km circuits around Willunga, Aldinga Beach and McLaren Vale, with a steady climb up to Willunga at the end of each lap. On the fourth time that the riders pass through Willunga, they will head up Old Willunga Hill, a 3 km climb that averages 7.6 percent. This is traditionally where the race breaks open with only 20 km of descent/flat remaining in the stage. Anyone who is a chance at taking the leader's jersey away from Luis Sanchez will certainly have a go here.
The sprints today are at Aldinga Beach (km 58.8 and km 100.7) on laps 2 and 3, while the Willunga climb is at km 127.4. The weather looks to be fine and sunny, with a forecast maximum in the mid-to-upper 20's.
11:02 CST - 0 km
Kirk O'Bee (Navigators) didn't start today, reason unsure.
11:09 CST 3km/144km to go
11:10 CST 5km/142km to go
11:16 CST 10km/137km to go
11:19 CST 12km/135km to go
The riders are now racing along the beachfront at Aldinga, helped by a tailwind. Huge crowds are out today to watch this stage.
11:27 CST 16km/131km to go
We spoke to race leader Luis Sanchez (Liberty), who looked quite confident this morning in Willunga. "The team is not too tired from yesterday and I feel very good too," he said. "I didn't have any problems responding to the attacks made by Stuart yesterday and this is the most important stage. It's on a terrain that should suit me fine."
11:29 CST 20km/127km to go
11:34 CST 22km/125km to go
The yellow jersey calls for a group pitstop, which means this break will stay clear for a while. There are no GC threats in it.
11:39 CST 26km/121km to go
11:52 CST 34km/113km to go
12:00 CST 41km/106km to go
An update from the women's race held in Aldinga, which has just finished a few minutes ago. Natalie Bates (NSW) won in a solo attack after going away with about 20 minutes to go. Jenny Macpherson won the sprint for second ahead of Sara Carrigan. We're not sure yet, but Rochelle Gilmore might have retained the overall leader's jersey.
Unofficial results: 1 Natalie Bates (NSW), 2 Jenny Macpherson (Vic) at 0'03, 3 Sara Carrigan (Qld), 4 Alex Rhodes (SA), 5 Rochelle Gilmore (NSW), 6 Katherine Bates.
12:07 CST 46km/101km to go
12:12 CST 48km/99km to go
Did it suit you and your team? "Yeah, but a lot of riders who were in the first 26 the day before went on the attack yesterday and kept the pressure on, so that made the speed really high...for a long time, until one break went with nobody dangerous in it - and then it just stopped.
"I think there's a good chance something will happen today. They might let five blokes go who lost half an hour the other day, it won't matter, and when it hits the climb, it's going to be on fire... yeeeahh..."
You've now had quite a few days to test you form and recovery, so how do you think you'll go on Old Willunga Hill? "I've survived all the other climbs so far, but this is going to be different. There's only 15, 20 kilometres to go from the top, so it's probably going to be raced more aggressively than usual.
"I'm not a climber - I'm the first to admit it - and guys of this standard, it's a different story. I'll just do my best, and go as hard as I can - it's going to be like a 25 kilometre time trial, so if I can stay in the top 10 on GC, I'll be a happy man.
"Dave's [McPartland] probably our best climber at the moment, so we're hoping he'll make front group, and get possibly get a really good overall finish. There's also Ashley Humbert - he's climbing well, he's still right up there, and he's only a couple of seconds behind me - so I'm probably the unknown, I would say, even though I'm leading on GC. The three guys who lost half an hour the other day will work for us.
12:18 CST 53km/94km to go
12:24 CST 58km/89km to go
12:27 CST 62km/85km to go
Right after the sprint, Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) attacks, and is joined by Ciaran Power (Navigators Insurance).
Jenny Macpherson has been confirmed as the overall winner of The Advertiser women's criterium series.
12:36 CST 69km/78km to go
12:41 CST 71km/76km to go
12:44 CST 74km/73km to go
12:50 CST 78km/69km to go
12:52 CST 80km/67km to go
12:55 CST 82km/65km to go
"I did what I could yesterday," O'Grady told Gabbi Ekström this morning. "You gotta get up there and try. Today I can't get out there and kill myself in a solo effort, but if I could get some time back at the end, that would be good."
On Liberty Seguros: "Yeah they should be tired for sure. They've had the jersey for a few stages and they've been working hard."
Anthony Tan spoke at length to Lotto manager Hendrik Redant this morning to ask about the team's tactics for today. You have Van Summeren two seconds behind and Kuyckx another 36 seconds behind, so is the only option to attack to get back those seconds?
"I think today is a real possibility to do that," he said. "Van Summeren is really good uphill also, so it's going to be a tough ride, but with a possibility to attack. Those guys [Liberty Seguros] are strong and are also strong as a team, so it's not going be easy, and I reckon it will still come down to bonification sprints.
"In those sprints, Stuart O'Grady and Allan Davis will grab some seconds. I'm sure my guy wants [to win] on the climb, the only problem is that there's still 16 or 17 kilometres left [to the finish], so that's something not in our advantage.
Do you sense any tiredness in Liberty Seguros? You could say that's one of the disadvantages of having the leader's jersey early on. "It is. But this is a team that does that a lot, and specialises in this type of racing. Yesterday, you saw they had really good condition when the 17 guys rode away - they just closed the gap.
"It will all come down to that last climb, Old Willunga Hill, if Sanchez can keep up with the best - I reckon he can. It's up to the other guys who want to attack to try and disorientate the Liberty Seguros team.
Even though Van Summeren is young, he has shown maturity beyond his years, like in Verona last year. Does he have the ability to take out this tour? "He could - the only disadvantage he has is in the sprint. He doesn't have the [sprinting] ability of an Allan Davis or Stuart O'Grady - or even Luis Sanchez, because he got beaten. To get away alone is going to be very difficult. It's not going to be easy, but we're going to try - we have already seen he's in great condition at the December training camp and the last seven or eight days before the race - and he's young, he's got great morale... we will try."
What is a good scenario for Davitamon Lotto today? Will it suit your team to see an early break go before Old Willunga Hill, so the race is a little more controlled? "Umm, they [Liberty] will control it anyway - they're used to riding like that, they always ride in Spain like that, controlling the whole day - so I reckon it won't make a big difference.
"I just saw yesterday it took about two and a half hours before a break got away with nobody dangerous in the overall classification. It will be nice and I'd like to have somebody in there - Mario Aerts or Cadel Evans, who can also make it over the climb - so if we have a break like that, I'd like those two to win, because I know it's quasi-impossible for a break with Johan... they won't let that ride [away].
"What is also best is that I know Robbie can make this climb - he already won this stage and has come second - so once we start the climb, we should also be in a good position, try to get up there with the best, and maybe go for another win."
13:06 CST 89km/58km to go
Panaria and Davitamon are chasing hard to close it down.
13:09 CST 91km/56km to go
We have another 10 km before the second sprint at Aldinga Beach.
13:11 CST 92km/55km to go
13:13 CST 97km/50km to go
13:18 CST 100km/47km to go
13:22 CST 102km/45km to go
Robbie McEwen wins the second sprint at Snapper Point ahead of Hilton Clarke. That likely gives him an unbeatable lead in the sprints classification. Paride Grillo took third, and another bonus second. He's within 10 seconds of Sanchez' lead.
13:25 CST 104km/43km to go
How are you feeling - a little nervous? "Nah, I'm looking forward to it - it's going to be fun. I'm going to hide as much as I can on the first three laps of the circuit and be as well placed as I can on the climb. I'm confident I can go over the top [of Willunga Hill] with the front guys; if I can't, I can still get them over the top where it plateaus. But I'm hoping to hang on to the back of them and hang on to the front group."
Were you happy with how the race unfolded yesterday? "It was really aggressive at the start - I went for one of the time bonuses at the start, and just didn't get up there because it was incredibly fast. I didn't quite get there - it was only for three seconds - so I just hid for the rest of the day.
I tried to jump away with a k and a half to go over this little climb, and got away with Dumoulin from Ag2R, but he didn't want to work... that was unfortunate, but we could of grabbed a couple of seconds and stayed away. I ended up winning the bunch sprint, so I've moved up a place on the general classification."
You're 24 seconds behind. It's a fair bit in a race like this... "Oh, it is. I'm just counting on a couple of those guys in front of me getting popped over the climb today, and me just hanging on - maybe trying to grab a time bonus today and tomorrow. Best I can hope for is a top five on GC."
Are all the boys ready to work for you today? "Yeah, no problems - if I ask them to do anything, they should be able do it. We might throw a few of the guys in the early break, because that's usually the case here and it might hold off. It hasn't happened yet, but it might happen."
13:27 CST 106km/41km to go
Cofidis is leading the chase behind, as O'Grady has missed the cut.
13:31 CST 108km/39km to go
13:38 CST 114km/33km to go
13:40 CST 116km/31km to go
13:43 CST 117km/30km to go
"I'm really confident - there's no pressure. I'm going to give it my best no matter what, and that's pretty much it. I'm gonna give it everything and see how it turns out."
Was the team happy with the way the stage panned out yesterday, even though you didn't have a rider in the break? "Yeah, it would of have been nice to have someone up there, but I think the guys are a bit tired, because we're not a professional team. This week will take it's toll on the guys, and to have yesterday as a bit of a day off is probably a good thing for today."
How do you think you'll go on Willunga Hill? "It's a bit of a mystery. It's hard to tell, it's the first stage race of the season, so you don't know how you'll back up day after day. But I've been feeling good every day, and I don't think today will be any different."
What's a realistic goal for you in terms of general classification? "I think it's possible to run top four. I think Grillo and the Davitamon-Lotto guy will struggle to get over the hill with us; if everyone works together and it stays away until the finish, I think we'll be right."
13:50 CST 122km/25km to go
The gap is down to 15 seconds to Rogers and co. The Quick.Step boys mustn't have applied too much hair gel today!
13:52 CST 124km/23km to go
13:55 CST 125km/22km to go
13:59 CST 126km/21km to go
14:00 CST 127km/20km to go
14:06 CST 129km/18km to go
14:08 CST 132km/15km to go
14:11 CST 133km/14km to go
14:16 CST 138km/9km to go
The two leaders have 20 seconds on chase group 1 (Van Summeren is in this, but Pozzato isn't) and 40 seconds on chase group 2.
14:18 CST 142km/5km to go
14:20 CST 144km/3km to go
To recap: Sanchez and Contador (Liberty) lead a group with Stuart OGrady (Cofidis), Johan Vansummeren and Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto), Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros), Javier Ramirez (Liberty Seguros), David McPartland (United Water) and Simon Gerrans (Ag2r Prevoyance) by 27 seconds. The second chase group with Bates, White and Rogers is at 0'40.
The roads are long and flat now on the way into Willunga.
14:22 CST 145km/2km to go
14:23 CST 146km/1km to go
14:24 CST 147km/0km to go
In the other classifications, McEwen has the sprints jersey, quite comfortably, while Gene Bates leads the mountains, Sanchez the U23, and Mick Rogers (Quick.Step) was the most aggressive rider today.
Please join us again tomorrow at 12:30 local time for the final stage of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under.
1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Liberty Seguros Team 2 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Liberty Seguros Team 3 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros Team 4 Javier Ramirez Abeja (Spa) Liberty Seguros Team 5 David McPartland (Aus) United Water 6 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis - Le Credit Par Telephone 7 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Ag2R - Prevoyance 8 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon - Lotto 9 Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto 10 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Francaise Des Jeux 11 Robert McLachlan (Aus) United Water 12 Mario Aerts (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto General classification after stage 5 1 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Liberty Seguros Team 15.00.15 2 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros Team 0.35 3 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis - Le Credit Par Telephone 0.47 4 Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto 0.48 5 Javier Ramirez Abeja (Spa) Liberty Seguros Team 0.51 Sprints classification 1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon - Lotto Mountains classification 1 Gene Bates (Aus) Uni SA U23 classification 1 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Liberty Seguros Team Most aggressive rider 1 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quickstep