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Tour Down Under

The Matt Lloyd Tour Down Under diary

Matt Lloyd (Silence-Lotto)
Photo ©: Shane Goss
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Twenty four year old Matt Lloyd, is the current Australian champion and hails from Melbourne. After graduating from the South Australia.com – AIS team in 2005, he went on to sign for the Belgian based Silence-Lotto team (previously Predictor-Lotto) of fellow Australians Cadel Evans, Robbie McEwen and Nick Gates. Now in his second year on the squad and after showing huge promise in his first year, Lloyd is looking set to have a stellar year on the ProTour circuit. He finished fourth at the Tour Down Under last year, and is eager to better that result this time around to hopefully grab the first ProTour leaders jersey of the year and thereby taking up where team-mate Evans left off last year. Follow his progression through the race here on Cyclingnews as he keeps you up to date with his daily Tour diary.

January 26, 2008 - Stage 5: Willunga - Willunga, 147 km

Strobe lights and warning signs

Events today assimilated correctly with my prediction of a larger group arriving at the finish line. This dynamic stage has in the past been made more difficult by more vicious attacks and fowl weather conditions, but today was relatively tame on both counts, with another small group escaping and the light breeze providing some respite from the hot temperatures. Knowing how the weather can at times perpetuate the race's outcome on this stage it was nice to roll around for a while before the climb. Many people had asked if I was Ok, while I sat at the rear of the bunch all day in which I replied "why would I waist my energy hitting the wind? with 80 other blokes who can take each other to the climb!!". I must thank my Silence-Lotto team mates in making this journey a lot easier. It was fantastic. Huge props to that factor…

Upon reaching the climb itself, within minutes a group of 15 or so went clear from the others. Being quite comfortable in this group I dabbled in a single move trying to draw the strength of the group out, and therefore the chance of going to the line. Being a gradual climb with a moderate head-wind, my efforts were accompanied by many of the 15 man bunch, of course knowing to seise the option to go clear. Having my new jersey, and making the identical move last year the move was predictable lacking in subtlety, although was the final chance to get amongst the action. This element of common knowledge also applied to the other contenders with each at the front checking each other out as if we all had strobe lights and massive 'warning' banners on our jerseys.

David Moncoutie (gracefully returning after a 2007 horror incident) and Luis Sanchez had made a post-climb effort. Although having at least 30 men making it over the climb their chance of surviving the fast decent was a huge ask, and as predictions and rumours of yet another gallop to the line were confirmed a great win achieved by Andre Greipel, his 4th in this weeks racing. To be angry or disappointed about such events coming about would be silly, as the race suite and great efforts by strong teams reflects the quality of the pro-tour field, no matter what time of year.

As the sprinters and likely tor winner are battling out the competition tomorrow, it will certainly be on for all to see on the street circuit. Having few seconds to play with each team and particular GC member will be 100% on gaining crucial seconds and the new pro-tour events early season accolades.

To be quite open, the week for me has been a pleasurable commencement of the young season, made all the more pleasurable by the flow and speed of racing. This amounts to good training for all, and the addition to the bank of kilometres needed to have a successful European campaign through the arduous year. If reaching the final evening of the TDU unscathed can be possible, I'll be hugely stoked. Once again it is a matter of watching the upcoming events in tomorrow's 88klm stage to see what happens.