Gerrans Wins Tour Down Under 2014; Greipel Wins Final Stage
Simon Gerrans became the first three-time winner of the Tour Down Under, in front of a home crowd in Adelaide on Australia's national day. Gerrans went into the final stage with a lead of just one second over Cadel Evans (Team BMC Racing) and finished with the same narrow margin.
Gerrans finished on the same time as stage winner André Greipel (Germany/Lotto-Belisol) who beat Mark Renshaw (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Renshaw's teammate Andrew Fenn (Great Britain) in the stage 6 sprint across the finish line.
"I’ve got my third Tour Down Under win thanks to an outstanding team," said Gerrans. "This is an Australian team, on Australia Day, in a WorldTour event, what else could I ask for?"
Gerrans took the crown by a hard earned one second margin from 2011 Tour de France champion and compatriot, Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) after wrenching it from his shoulders in yesterday's hilltop finish at Willunga. Italian Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) was a further four seconds back in third place overall.
Gerrans, the Australian road race champion, signalled his intention to go for a third Tour win when he won the San Remo Pasta Stage 1 sprint into Angaston.
"It’s been a hard race for me and my team-mates," said Gerrans who lost the lead to Evans who won Thursday's Thomas Foods Stage 3 into Stirling. "It’s been difficult to get the Ochre jersey back, what a tough week!
"I had the experience from two years ago of defending the lead with a very small margin (same time as Alejandro Valverde)," he explained. "I was confident in my team-mates to take me home safely, which they did today. Until I crossed the line, I suspected that Diego Ulissi would try and do something, but it went all right."
Evans was philisophical about his result.
"This race is fantastic, the fans really make this race and this ambiance, I am so pleased, so proud of us as a cycling nation," he said. "I took my best judgement on the road (so) I have to be satisfied with how it went.
"We prefer to win, that's what we're hard-wired to win," said Evans. "(But) to lose by 1 second shows that we're (BMC Racing Team) in a good way."
But today wasn't an all Aussie celebration because German sprint sensation Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) scorched home at top speed to win his 16th Santos Tour Down Under stage.
"Chapeau to my team-mates, they rode incredibly fast so I could save myself for the last moment," said Greipel. "This is a very nice victory for us, I had fast legs today and I’m confident in my capacities these days.
"It was difficult to keep the peloton together but everyone knew where we’d start the lead out. This new circuit is really fast but we have enough experience in the team to adjust ourselves to a new course. I’m really happy to come out of the Santos Tour Down Under as a winner again."
Close behind in second place was Australian Mark Renshaw (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) with his team mate Andrew Fenn (GBR) third on the stage.
"There was a long, straight headwind section," said Greipel's team mate Marcel Sieberg. "We lost Adam Hansen with a puncture with about three kilometres to go so we had to wait a little more.
"It was perfect for us today and we take confidence,