Cycling round-up: Simon Gerrans and Andre Griepel reign free Down Under
Cycling round-up: Simon Gerrans clinches his third Tour Down Under title, whilst Nairo Quintana wins in Argentina
Gerrans and Griepel reign free
Australian Simon Gerrans took the overall win, beating 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans by just one second in the GC. The former Team Sky man won the first stage in Angaston, just days after having claimed victory in the Australian National Championships where he also pipped Evans to the line. Evans, however got his little slice of revenge by taking a great solo win on stage three to put him in the ocre leaders jersey. He only wore it for two days, though, as Gerrans overcame the seven-second deficit on stage six, which was won by Sky’s Richie Porte. Andre Griepel, on the other hand, proved that he was the premier sprinter in the field, winning two stages to take his tally to 16 Tour Down Under stages in his career. The big German just loves racing around Adelaide and was denied victory on stage one by the impressive Gerrans.
Porte shines for Sky
Richie Porte was Team Sky’s leader in his home tour and he did not disappoint the management, winning stage five atop the famous Willunga Hill having attacked from 2km out. Teammate Geraint Thomas finished 10th on the stage as he begins the season in which he hopes to be given the opportunity to lead the team himself in stage races. Porte finished fourth in the GC, behind stage two winner Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida), while Thomas came in eighth.
Tour de San Luis
Quintana starts with a bang
Nairo Quintana took the overall crown in Argentina, in an event which has attracted some of the peloton’s top climbers in recent years. The Colombian, who took the King of the Mountains jersey in last year’s Tour de France, topped the general classification by 43 seconds from Garmin’s Phillip Gaimon having won the mountain-top finish on stage four. It was announced post-race that Quintana will attack the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana this year, rather than returning to the Tour de France to defend his polka-dot jersey. But the 23-year-old proved that he was one of, if not the best climber in the pro peloton and even performed well in the individual time trial, something which he struggled with in last year’s Tour. Look out for Quintana to be among the top names on the Giro podium in May, as he should have no troubles with the steep Italian mountains.
Yates the top Brit
Many expected Mark Cavendish to be the star British performer in San Luis, but the Manxman started his season slowly in the South American heat. A top-20 finish in the time trial was a good achievement for Cavendish, as well as a 13th-placed finish on one of the sprint stages. No, the best performance came from first-year pro Adam Yates (Orica Greenedge) who finished 11th in the overall classification and topped the Under-23 category in his first race for the Australian outfit. Yates finished second in last season’s Tour de l’Avenir (Tour of the Future), a race whose previous winners have included Miguel Indurain, Laurent Fignon and Greg LeMond, winners of 10 Tours de France between them. No doubt Yates, and his brother Simon who races on the same Orica team, have a great future in the pro peloton.
Team of the Month
Nairo Quintana The Colombian proved his class as he saw off the strongest field San Luis has ever seen, including Grand Tour favourites Vincenzo Nibali and Joaquim Rodriguez.
Simon Gerrans The Australian secured the victory on stage one, lost his ocre jersey to Cadel Evans, but stole it back on the famous Willunga Hill. All this after being crowned Australian National Champion just days before.
Cadel Evans The old man of the peloton showed that he still has fight in his legs. The Australian took a stirring solo victory in stage three to wear the leaders jersey for two stages.
Adam Yates A dream start to his professional career, coming in 11th overall ahead of some of the most experienced climbers in the world.
Andre Greipel The German loves the Tour Down Under. He won his 15th and 16th stages of his career in Australia, the latter of which coming on Australia Day.
Phillip Gaimon The American got a win in his first stage as a professional rider on the Garmin-Sharp team. He couldn’t hold off Quintana on stage four, surrendering the lead, but hung on for second overall.