Report of the Last Stage of the TDU from James
It was a dream end for Orica-GreenEdge as Caleb Ewan took Stage 6 and Simon Gerrans took his fourth Tour Down Under crown in South Australia.
“It wasn’t just a great week for me, the team showed that this week they are by far the strongest,” said race winner Ewan soon after showing why he’s the top sprinter on the continent, winning the final sprint of the TDU. Teammate Simon Gerrans stayed out of trouble and claimed his fourth TDU crown.
Stage 6 of the TDU rolled around 20 laps of a 4.5km street circuit around the City of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, including the historic Adelaide Oval.
Orica GreenEdge studiously made the pace while four men broke away; Laurens De Vreese and Leuwe Westra(Astana), Adam Phelan (Drapac) George Bennett (Lotto NL Jumbo), and Carlos Verona (Etixx-Quick Step). The early race pace was too hot though, and they were reeled in after 5 laps.
Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) and Maarten Tjallingii (Lotto NL – Jumbo) managed to escape soon after and would stay away for most of the race.
Tjallingi took the first sprint point on lap 8/20 uncontested over De Gendt. Behind, Daryl Impey (Orica GreenEdge) out-dragged Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff) to take the final point, protecting teammate Simon Gerrans’s sprint jersey.
The KOM points on lap 10/20 were taken by de Gendt, Tjallingii, with Jarlinson Pantano (IAM) who was leading the bunch taking third.
De Gendt took the second sprint point on lap12/20 over Tjallingii, and Johan Le Bon (FDJ) was third as he tried, unsuccessfully, to cross the gap.
De Gendt dropped back to the peloton, leaving Tjallingii to be joined by Leuwe Westra (Astana).
The front of the peloton became hotly contested territory on lap 17/20, with, Drapac, Dimension Data, and Lotto-Soudal, and Tinkoff driving the pace.
Westra and Tjallingii’s lead disappeared on the scorching lap 19/20 and they returned to the speeding pack. The pack flew, led by Tinkoff and Lotto-Soudal.
The final lap bell rang and SKY made their first appearance at the front of the day, followed by Orica GreeEdge ushering Caleb Ewan to the front. They flew over Montefiore Hill for the last time and thundered down towards the line.
“He’s the definition of a ‘pocket rocket’,” said Jens Voigt about Caleb Ewans sprint at the finish.
Trek-Segafredo dove to the front, trying to lead out their man Giacomo Nizzolo, but an out of position Caleb Ewan accelerated from 200m out, and several riders back. He overhauled the other sprinters, and opened a gap on the line to finish a near-perfect TDU for his team.
Mark Renshaw (Dimension Data) crossed second, ahead of Nizzolo in third.
“It was always going to be hard going into the race with two ambitions of trying to win sprint stages and also GC with Simon but I think we did it perfectly, coming away with stage wins and overall,” said race-winner Ewan said.
Overall champion Gerrans reflected on a great event, and a great showing by his team.
“We are so lucky to have this race here in Australia,” he said. “It's fantastic to race the Santos Tour Down Under with Orica-Greenedge, an Aussie team winning a WorldTour race in Australia, it's just awesome.”
Gerrans also takes the lead in the UCI WorldTour ranking.
Orica GreenEdge team director Matt White was understandably happy with his team.
“To win the overall and book-end with Caleb… he clearly was the fastest rider here all week,” said White. “And for Gerro (Gerrans) to come back, everyone saw how hard he worked. This will set the tone for rest of the year.”