ORICA-GreenEDGE finish Santos Tour Down Under with fourth stage win and overall titleSun 24 Jan 2016
ORICA-GreenEDGE has concluded the 2016 Santos Tour Down Under in spectacular style, taking out the final stage and overall title in Adelaide today.
21-year-old sprinter Caleb Ewan delivered for the third time this week by winning the final stage ahead of Mark Renshaw (Team Dimension Data) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo).
Meanwhile, 35-year-old former Australian champion Simon Gerrans safely defended his overall lead to become the first rider in history to win four Santos Tour Down Under titles.
“This one feels just as good as the first one did,” Gerrans said. “I had to keep my wits about me, I was fully concentrated there for the full 90km but it certainly feels good now that it’s over and done with and I’ve secured the win.”
“It’s a race of such a high caliber these days and it feels like the level of racing increases every year. This fourth one, even though I think it was my largest winning margin, it was still less than ten seconds so it’s a closely fought race.”
Gerrans congratulated his teammates in Ewan, Michael Hepburn, Luke Durbridge, Michael Albasini, Mathew Hayman and Daryl Impey for their extensive work throughout the week in order to deliver team success.
“Everyone really had to step up to the plate this week with two objectives in the race,” Gerrans said. “Often you see teams that want too much and come away with nothing so it was a bit of a risk but everyone did exactly what was asked of them, and then some.”
“We saw some fantastic riding by Heppy (Hepburn) and Durbo (Durbridge) on the front, Albasini as well. Mat Hayman was protecting us really well in the bunch and Daryl Impey was doing some sensational lead outs both on the hillier stages and on the flat stages.
“Everybody really lifted their game this week and it’s really nice to be able pay the guys work back with such a successful week.”
ORICA-GreenEDGE leaves the Santos Tour Down Under with the overall title (Gerrans), sprint classification (Gerrans), four out of six stage victories (Ewan – stages 1 and 6, Gerrans – stages 3 and 4) and the People’s Choice Classic (Ewan).
Sport director Matt White said the team’s performance at their only home WorldTour race was an overwhelming success.
“We had difficult circumstances this week with a crash but we turned it around and the week was an incredible team effort finished off with some leaders in very good shape,” White said.
“Caleb clearly showed he was the fastest guy here and it’s an exciting sign for things to come this season. And it was no surprise that Simon won but after last season it would have been such a relief for him after all of the hard work that he has done.
“We were definitely the most complete, motivated and strongest team and we wanted it more than any other team and that’s the difference.”
How it happened:
There was no easing off for the final circuit stage of the Santos Tour Down Under, with attacks starting from the gun.
Astana Pro Team was the most aggressive early, initiating and putting two riders in the first break of five.
ORICA-GreenEDGE, once again courtesy of Luke Durbridge and Michael Hepburn, took their position at the head of the peloton to keep any moves in check.
With the first moves neutralised, a duo of Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) and Maarten Tjallingii (Team Lotto Jumbo) rode off the front and with 40km left to race, they had a 30second advantage to the peloton, which was then headed by a number of outfits to reel them back in.
With the race back together in the final two laps, teams started to position their lead out trains.
It didn’t go completely to plan for ORICA-GreenEDGE but Ewan showed his class and strength to ride away with the victory.
“We got a little bit swamped coming in to get the bell for the last lap,” Ewan said. “Then coming back down the hill past the finish line on the way back I had to dive bomb into the last corner but I got up to the place I wanted to be and once I was there I was fine.”
“A few of my teammates came back up to help me and they did a great job to put me on the wheels I needed to be on and from then on I was feeling alright.
“Obviously it gives me a lot of confidence going into the season. There’s not the best four or five sprinters in the world here but I felt like I was winning pretty convincingly. I’m another year stronger and I think I can get closer to those best guys now as well.”
ORICA-GreenEDGE will next race in Geelong for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in one week’s time.
Santos Tour Down Under - Stage 6 Results
1. Caleb Ewan (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 1:55:02
2. Mark Renshaw (Team Dimension Data) ST
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) ST
Santos Tour Down Under - FINAL General Classification Results
1. Simon Gerrans (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 19:11:33
2. Richie Porte (BMC Racing) +0:09
3. Sergio Luis Henao (Team Sky) +0:11