Dennis Wins Santos Tour Down Under 2015
Australia Day came early in Adelaide with Rohan Dennis heading a clean sweep of the podium in the Santos Tour Down Under. Watch Tour Down Under video highlights from all stages in our videos section.
Racing in front of a crowd of 115,000 fans, the South Australian BMC Racing team rider can now list a UCI WorldTour victory on his resume after claiming the Santos Ochre Leader's jersey by a two-second margin over Team Sky's Tasmanian Richie Porte.
Dennis finished 20 seconds clear of teammate and compatriot Cadel Evans, who after a 20 year professional cycling career ended his final World Tour event in third place overall.
"It's an incredible feeling to win the Santos Tour Down Under," Dennis explained to Roadcycling.com. "Doing it with Cadel during his last World Tour race took a lot of pressure off me, but I was not comfortable at all in this last stage. I was following Richie Porte in the sprints in case he'd go for the time bonus, but I didn't have to worry because my team rode awesome."
"I couldn't fault them, they sat at the front and made sure I was out of the wind," Dennis continued. "Even when I got pushed back someone always dropped back and pulled forward. They have really helped me win this and made it a lot easier."
It was a deserved win for the 24-year-old who has won world titles on both the road and track as well as Commonwealth and Olympic Games silver medals in his short career. Dennis moved from Team Garmin-Sharp to Team BMC Racing mid-season last year.
BMC Racing General Manager Jim Ochowicz says the win is significant for Dennis "For Rohan, it's the beginning of a career. This is his first big win as a professional and to have it be a World Tour event says even more," Ochowicz explained. "He went against a real seasoned rider, Richie Porte, to fight the fight. That was a great sign for the future. We came here for Cadel, he tried, he got third, but Rohan was just better."
Evans, runner-up to Simon Gerrans by one second in last year's Tour Down Under a year ago and 2011 Tour de France champion and 2009 world road champion, said he continues to surprise himself in the closing days of a professional road racing career that began in 2001.
"To go out on the podium – not quite at the top, top – I think puts me at No. 3 ranked in the world," Evans told RoadCycling.com. "To bow out of cycling at that level is probably a little bit more than I hoped. Most of all, I have been here as an optimal teammate and to pass on the baton to the next generation of riders and to bring Rohan here in the jersey and the lead."
"Cadel is so happy to end his career like this," said Ochowicz of the former Tour de France champion who will now work with BMC Racing in the role of company Ambassador, promoting the company's BMC bikes. "It's a great end to a great career."
With only two seconds separating Dennis from Porte at the start of the final stage of the 2015 Santos Tour Down Under there was an opportunity for Porte to try and grab some bonus seconds during the race, but it's a difficult task in the final stage of a stage race. Especially with a super attentive BMC Racing team on the alert to protect their race leader.
For Porte coming so close to the top step of the podium was bittersweet, but he was content to finish on the podium and to have won yesterday's "Queen" stage.
"I am happy," he told Roadcycling.com. "I enjoyed it. It was a great week of racing. It's just incredible to see the growth of racing in Australia."
"It's a massive confidence boost," Porte explained. "I won the same stage (stage 5) last year, but this year, I feel I have a lot of motivation back and I am looking forward to having a big season."
Today's stage 6 was raced over 20 laps of a 4.5 kilometer circuit that this year extended from Elder Park up through North Adelaide and back before sweeping up through the city along King William Street to Victoria Square.
The stage traditionally finishes with a mass sprint and history looked set to repeat itself until a nasty crash on the final lap took a host of favorites out of contention.
This paved the way for Dutch sprinter Wouter Wippert to snatch the stage victory edging out Australian road champion, Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling) with Belgian Boris Vallee (Lotto-Soudal) third across the line.
"It was a really nervous race," stage winner Wippert explained. "The team rode all day in the front (but) I was a bit tired and I decided to go back but a teammate of mine took me to the front again ahead of the final sprint.
That was fortunate for him because he was in front of the crash and able to ride on to the finish without mishap.
"I saw a crash happening but not much because the race was so fast. It's fantastic to win here, being part of an Australian team in Australia for a WorldTour race."
On lap ten and fifteen of the 90 kilometer stage the riders contested a Category 3 Subaru King of the Mountain climb.
The first time under the arch it was Lars Boom (Astana) ahead of Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky Pro Cycling) and Michael Schär (Team BMC Racing).
Boom again took the maximum points on the second climb, but this time Denmark's Lars Ytting Bak (Lotto-Soudal) was second and Kennaugh third.
The climbing results today had no impact on the contention for the Subaru King of the Mountain jersey that began the day on the shoulders of Jack Bobridge (UniSA-Australia) and went home with him as well. His final tally of 36 points was two ahead of Dennis with Porte well back in third on the climber's classification with 22 points.
"I didn't crash but I was caught behind the crash," said Bobridge after the stage. "It's just bad because I wanted to help Steele von Hoff in the final sprint.
"But the whole week has been fantastic and I couldn't ask for much more," said Bobridge who on top of his Subaru KOM win also won the opening stage and wore the leader's jersey for two days.
The stage also featured two iiNet intermediate sprints, the first at the end of lap eight and the second at the end of lap twelve.
The Orica-GreenEdge team of iiNet Points leader Daryl made sure his hold on the jersey was secure by sending several teammates with him in an early break.
The South African locked up the lead with a win in the first intermediate sprint ahead of his team mate, Australian Mathew Hayman and Schar, who was policing the break for BMC team, in third place.
At the second intermediate sprint Bak was first ahead of American Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin p/b POC) and Boom.
When the points were tallied at the end of the stage Impey finished with 55 points well clear of Italian Niccolo Bonifazio (Lapre-Merida) on 39 points with Evans third in the iiNet classification with 37 points.
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