Alejandro Valverde Sprints to Stage 5 Vicotry in Comeback Race
Spain's Alejandro Valverde of Team Movistar made an emotional return from a two-year doping ban by winning the fifth and longest stage of the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under earlier today, closing in on overall victory in the first event of the 2012 UCI WorldTour.
on the last corner to cross the line barely a meter ahead.
The final stage, in leafy parklands near the Torrens River and Adelaide Oval cricket ground, seldom results in a decisive breakaway and is likely to end with most of the 131 riders in the peleton on or around the same time.
That would result in only the second countback in the race's history and the first since 2003. Gerrans, the 2006 Tour Down Under champion who won the Australian road racing championships earlier this month, is strongly placed to win on countback.
He has finished 35th, third, 20th, 17th and second on the race's previous stages while Valverde has finish 58th, fourth, 54th and 33rd.
On Sunday's flat stage, Valverde is unlikely to be able to achieve the time advantage over Gerrans that he needs to win the tour on general classification.
"It's a great consolation prize," Gerrans said of finishing second on the stage but taking the overall lead. "It will be a box ticked if I'm still wearing this jersey at the end of the stage tomorrow."