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9th Tour Down Under - 2.HC

Australia, January 16-21, 2007

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Tuesday, January 16: Down Under Classic (Adelaide City Council Circuit), 50km

Complete live report

Commentary by Anthony Tan, with additional reporting from Mark Zalewski

We trust everyone enjoyed the Christmas break and clocked up the miles on the road or home trainer to burn off that excess turkey/ham/lamb/duck/tofu/[insert said meat/vegetable] consumption that is generally associated with this time of year.

You'll be glad to hear the Cyclingnews blimp had time to rest and refuel, where, like a growing number of European riders, it has enjoyed some well-earned "active rest" in the sunny climes of Australia. Over the summer, the original Hindenburg engineers, excited by the prospect of a new year, took time to refine the blimp even further. We can also announce the edition of an extra crew member, Sven, who will be our on-board masseur to keep those shoulders and forearms supple during our live coverages, with our aim being to provide you with the fastest, most accurate, and compelling lives ever.

11:00 ESCT   
Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 9th Tour Down Under. Racing kicks off in Adelaide's East End this evening with the Down Under Classic criterium at 19:00 local time.

19:02 ESCT   
It's just coming on 7pm local time here in Adelaide, with the entire TDU peloton ready for the start of the Down Under Classic.

19:06 ESCT    2km/48km to go
As last year's winner, Robbie McEwen led out the peloton for the first of 25 laps. It's stinking hot here in Adelaide's North Terrace.

19:09 ESCT   
The mercury hit 37 degrees C here this afternoon, and despite being just after 7 here this evening, the temp hasn't gone down one iota. In fact, it feels hotter. Maybe that's the sunburn talking.

19:12 ESCT   
Just before the gun shot off, three-time TdF green jersey champion Robbie McEwen told us: "I'm not quiet 100 percent, the bronchitis is still lingering a bit, hopefully the eat heats beats it out of me."

Word has come through that AG2R has lost a rider already, Christophe Riblon (Fra), gone home for a family bereavement. Cyclingnews extends its condolences to Christophe and his family.

19:16 ESCT    10km/40km to go
With 5 laps down and 20 to go, we have a break of six riders with roughly a 12 second lead. Miles Olman and Jeremy Hunt are part of that six.

19:23 ESCT    15km/35km to go
Finally... we have the full composition of the break of six, who are now on their eighth of 25 laps: Jeremy Hunt (Unibet.com), Miles Olman (SouthAustralia.com-AIS), Benoit Sinner (Agritubel), Gianpaolo Cheula (Barloworld), Robert McLachlan (Australia - UniSA) and Tim Gudsell (New Zealand National Team).

19:24 ESCT   
Belgian Koen Barbe (Chocolade Jacques - Topsport Vlaanderen) and Valeriy Kobzarenko (Navigators Insurance) are on the front, leading the chase to the sextet out front.

19:28 ESCT    18km/32km to go
There was a sprint at the end of the 9th lap, with Frenchman Benoit Sinner (Agritubel) beating Miles Olman (SouthAustralia.com-AIS) to the post.

19:30 ESCT    20km/30km to go
The lead group of six are taking even turns out front, with Barloworld doing their best in the bunch to block for their man in the break, Gianpaolo Cheula. How's that for alliteration?

Looks like there could be a regrouping... the gap's down to 10 seconds.

19:34 ESCT   
When Cyclingnews bumped into Julian Dean from Credit Agricole this evening, the Kiwi was looking pretty happy after winning the New Zealand road championships last weekend. "It's going to be awesome taking the jersey to the tour, I'm definitely up for tonight," he said.

"I'm trying for the win. Mark Renshaw is in good form, hopefully we will go back to the hotel with a win. I'm missing my wedding anniversary again for the Tour Down Under, so I will be copping it again from the wife when I get back," he quipped.

19:37 ESCT    26km/24km to go
12 laps to go and the original break were indeed snapped up by the peloton, with a 10 rider break forming soon after the regrouping. A few more a starting to come across now, making it roughly 14 riders.

19:40 ESCT   
This new break includes the following men: Samuel Dumoulin (AG2r Prévoyance), Matthew Goss (Team CSC), Nicolas Roche (Crédit Agricole), Giovanni Bernaudeau (Bouygues Telecom), Dimitri Champion (Bouygues Telecom), Ben Day (Navigators Insurance Cycling Team), Sergey Lagutin (Navigators Insurance Cycling Team), Gene Bates (SouthAustralia.com-AIS), Chris Jongerwaard (Australia - UniSA).

19:42 ESCT   
Glenn D'hollander (Chocolade Jacques - Topsport Vlaanderen), Samuel Dumoulin (AG2r Prévoyance), Nicolas Roche (Crédit Agricole) and Gene Bates (SouthAustralia.com-AIS) are now off the front of this break, with the rest of the geezers at 11 seconds and the peloton not too far behind.

19:44 ESCT    32km/18km to go
9 laps to go. This is what is commonly referred to as "the business end of the bike race". Or something like that.

19:45 ESCT    34km/16km to go
Just 8 laps to go and just a quintet out front is left, holding a nervous 10 seconds over the rest of the peloton.

19:46 ESCT   
The salmon-coloured Predictor-Lotto team are sheltering their main man McEwen. Gotta love those pastel pink kits.

19:49 ESCT    36km/14km to go
7 laps to go and those lead five are still out in front: Chris Jongerwaard (Australia - UniSA), Dimitri Champion (Bouygues Telecom), Allan Johansen (Team CSC), James Perry (Barloworld), Koen Barbe (Chocolade Jacques - Topsport Vlaanderen). Local boy Jongerwaard is really driving it.

19:51 ESCT    38km/12km to go
They'll be a third and final bonus sprint at the conclusion of this lap, that being 6 (laps) to go.

19:52 ESCT   
Samuel Dumoulin from Ag2R told us today: "I love the heat; in France, it's about 0 degrees. After a few days it's not a problem; I'm only here for training and I'm here to help Simon Gerrans to go out for a win, but if I get the chance for a stage, then I'm going to go for it."

19:54 ESCT    40km/10km to go
Robert Hunter (Barloworld) took out that sprint, but with 5 laps remaining, it's all back together again.

19:55 ESCT    42km/8km to go
Barloworld and Predictor-Lotto are on the front, keeping it together. 4 laps to go, as Barloworld's Paolo Longo Borghini drives the bunch.

19:56 ESCT    44km/6km to go
3 laps to go. Place your bets...

Mine's (and just about everybody's) on McEwen.

19:59 ESCT    46km/4km to go
2 laps to go. McEwen and South Africa's Robert Hunter are near the front.

20:00 ESCT   
It's Barloworld, then CSC, then big, big Karl Menzies from Tasmania. McEwen is 12th wheel.

20:01 ESCT    48km/2km to go
And it's the bell lap. Finish is on Rundle Road, if one of you Adelaide locals can run fast.

20:02 ESCT   
McEwen, O'Grady and Hunter are all near the front, making the turn around the back end of the course...

20:02 ESCT   
Barloworld are now driving the pace...

20:03 ESCT   
250 metres...

20:03 ESCT   
Unibet's all over the shop!

20:04 ESCT   
Credit Agricole takes the sprint!

20:04 ESCT   
It's Marky Mark Renshaw. Go, my son!!!!! Go the boy from Bathurst!!!!!

20:06 ESCT   
We'll have the other placegetters to you shortly. By the way, I should mention that Mark will be writing a diary for us during the Tour Down Under. You'll hear what he has to say later this evening.

20:24 ESCT   
We now have our unofficial top three: Mark Renshaw from Crédit Agricole is the confirmed winner, with Hilton Clarke (Navigators Insurance Cycling Team) second and Gene Bates (SouthAustralia.com-AIS) third.

20:30 ESCT   
Note that the Down Under Classic was a one-off race only, with winner Mark Renshaw awarded the Down Under Classic Champion's jersey for his efforts. The race has no bearing on the overall classification of the Tour Down Under, which officially begins 11am tomorrow (January 17) with a 152 kilometre leg from Mawson Lakes to Tanunda. Thanks for tuning in, and see you then!

Results - unofficial

1 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Crédit Agricole
2 Hilton Clarke (Aus) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team
3 Gene Bates (Aus) SouthAustralia.com-AIS

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