Tour Down Under Wrap Up
Andre Greipel took his 11th ever win on the final stage of at the Tour Down Under to kick off his tremendous start to the 2012 WorldTour season. It’s one less than McEwen’s record of 12 wins which may very likely to be broken since this is Robbie’s last professional race on Australian soil.
Gerro took the overall classification in his second win at the Tour Down Under (his last being six years ago). I won’t hide it – I’ve been cheering for Gerro and GreenEDGE to win the TdU all week. I wanted to see them start off their first WorldTour appearance with a statement. History will simply remember the results sheet but this win was far from being a sure thing. If Gerro had just rolled across the line each day without any regard for his position he may not have won with the countback. We all criticise the overly keen riders who sprint for 20th place, but this was clearly a time where it mattered more than ever.
Tour Down Under BIGRING AWARD
Gerro and GreenEDGE won by calculating their efforts and didn’t show their cards until it was almost too late. Panache doesn’t necessarily win races but it’s what we all admire and want to see.
To me, Rohan Dennis was the rider with the biggest heart and biggest ring. On stage one he was in the break (with some encouragement from Jens) and he boldly attacked before being caught within a few kilometers to go. He rode his way to 5th on Willunga (only 7 seconds down), finished the tour 5th overall (only 14 seconds down) and won the best young rider and KOM jerseys. He also received Tanya Denver Award as the highest placed South Australian overall. The kid is only 21 and he’s well on his way to an outstanding career.
Will Clark also treated us to a thrilling solo victory on Stage 2 to Stirling after riding away from the peloton for 140km. I still don’t quite understand why he lost over a minute in a half on stage 1 when he got caught up in the crash in the final 800m (he should have got the same bunch time). He didn’t seem to understand the commissaire’s decision on this either. I had a good chat with Will after the stage but haven’t had time to transcribe it yet. What a talented and modest young lad. I’ll post the interview the next couple of days.
TdU Obscure Pro
My only disappointment of the week was for Wouter Mol. I’ve always loved the Port Adelaide CC’s “TdU Obscure Pro” but this year the organisation and enthusiasm for it seemed to die off. I spoke with Wouter and the Vacansoleil team manager and both of them were really looking forward to this honor and the support from the Adelaide tifosi.
There are two reasons why I love the “TdUOP”:
1. It elevates a relatively unknown name to celebrity status and highlights a rider who we otherwise wouldn’t have followed. Now I closely track the careers of guys like Arthur Vichot and Angle Madrazo (who finished 14th overall I might add). Without the TdUOP I would never have taken an interest.
2. The other thing I love is that the TdUOP is that it highlights Australia’s quirky love for the sport. Aussies are fiercely competitive but also know how to have a good time and always manage to find a lighter side of the sport. Australians love underdogs and it shows how they’ll go out of their way to celebrate that.
Perhaps something needs to be done next year to find a different angle on the TdUOP in order to reignite the enthusiasm and not make it comparable to previous years. I’m happy to do anything I can to help with that.
And as for Wouter, your name is engrained in my memory and I’ll be looking out for you on every results sheet for the rest of your career.
What’s Next For The Tour Down Under?
From everything I hear the Legends dinner with Eddy Merckx was another huge success. After the guests they’ve had over the past few years how are they going to top it? One word – JENS.
Rupert Guinness had a good article in the AGE about some possibilities for future TdU course and format changes. Alterations to the parcours included a possible stage finish in Adelaide with a descent down Greenhill road towards the line. Turtur ruled out the possibility of a Time Trial which I think is unfortunate. Instead of a relatively uneventful circuit race like we’ve traditionally seen on the final day, wouldn’t it have been exciting to have watched a Time Trial to decide the Overall winner? If Turtur is worried about the feasibility of TT bikes being used, then have an uphill TT on Norton’s Summit. Now that would be a stage worth sticking around for!
The End of Summer, Beginning of the 2012 Pro Season
Even though we still have a few months of beautiful weather ahead of us the end of the TdU marks the end of summer for me. It always astounds me that most of the pros have their bags packed within an hour of completing the final stage and they’re back to Europe that evening or the following day. The pros you see on Beach Rd and Cafe Racer have gone back to work just like everyone else and the roads begin to get clogged back up with commuting traffic.
At very least it’s Australia Day this Thursday and we get another long weekend!
Stage 6 Gallery
Stage 6 Results
1 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol 1hr 56min 48sec
2 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Rabobank
3 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre – ISD
4 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ – BigMat
5 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar
6 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
7 Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil -DCM
8 Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Team Saxo Bank
9 Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas – Cannondale
10 Manuel Belletti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
Final General Classification
1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEDGE 20:46:12
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
3 Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:08
4 Michael Rogers (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:00:14
5 Rohan Dennis (Aus) UNI SA – Australia
6 Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:16
7 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:00:18
8 Javier Moreno (Spa) Movistar 0:00:23
9 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank 0:00:29
10 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha 0:00:32
Thank you Adelaide for another sensational week of riding, racing, eating and drinking. I can’t think of many better places to live if you’re a bike rider. Don’t apologise for being a small and quiet city – that’s what I love about it!