Tour Down Under 2011 Wrap Up

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So the first race of the UCI ProWorld series has come and gone. Let us take a moment to reflect on the race that was.

It was a race of back and forths, multiple Ochre jersey holders, and strong Australians. It was a race won and lost on the last day. It was a race of young and old, new and familiar. All a recipe for a great race!

I don’t know why everyone hates on the TDU so much- I thought it was a great race! Six stages with 5 winners from 5 different teams and 3 Ochre jersey wearers. Time bonuses played a significant part in who ended up with the Ochre jersey and I wish the Tour de France would bring back time bonuses (I believe they had them in years past)- it makes the run for the line and the intermediate sprints so much more exciting!

It was also exciting to see lower profile, young sprinters (or sprinters in the making) making their presence known- Matt Goss, Michael Matthews, Ben Swift, Cameron Meyer, etc. This supports my belief in the importance of this race. Sure, it’s early in the season so many are not on top form. Sure, most teams send their sprinters with their B teams, while the A-listers stay in training camps. And maybe it’s not the hardest, or most prestigious race in the calendar. But all of these factors allow for younger, lesser known riders to make a name for themselves and maybe pick up some UCI points. Look at Peter Sagan last year. It was the Tour Down Under that put his name on many lips.

In addition, how many races in the UCI calendar cater to sprinters? Not many! Most races are measured by their climbs, the steeper and more numerous the better- one only needs to look at this years Giro and Tour routes to see this! So I see this as one race tailor made for sprinters and a chance for them to shine.

One last point- how awesome where the Australians in this race?! They killed it- stage wins, jerseys, attacks, breakaways- they were part of it all. And many of them quite young! And in the end, Australians ended up wearing 4 of the jerseys. Maybe this is normal for the TDU, but it was cool to see anyway.

All in all, it was an exciting race and I can’t wait for more of it!

To the Race

Two race features which played heavily into this race were the points and time bonuses awarded at various points of each stage. At the intermediate sprints and at the finish, points and time bonuses are awarded to the first 3 riders to cross the line. The points can help break a time tie and help determine who is awarded the sprinters and KOM jerseys. At the finish, 10 seconds are awarded for 1st, 6 seconds for 2nd, and 4 seconds for 3rd. In the intermediate sprints, 3 seconds go to the 1st person over the line, 2 seconds for 2nd, 1 second for 3rd. While that may not seem like a lot, it can make difference when the difference between 1st and 2nd is 8 seconds!

Stage 1
This race was characterized by lots of attacks and breakaway attempts, which started right from the gun. Those in the breakaway were in a position to contest the time bonuses and points afforded by the intermediate sprints and the KOM. Luke Roberts (Austalia) of the Australian national team UniSA-Australia joins the first breakaway to claim the first KOM points and hangs onto the lead until the end. At the finish line, Matthew Goss (Australia) of HTC-Highroad out-sprints defending champ Andre Greipel (Germany), of Omega Pharma-Lotto, to the line to take the first Ochre leaders jersey of the race.

Race Leaders:

  1. Matt Goss (Australia) HTC-Highroad
  2. Andre Greipel (Germany) Omega Pharma-Lotto
  3. Robbie McEwen (Australia) RadioShack

Video recap, text recap, full list of results

Stage 2

Winning stage 2 is a 23 year old Brit, Ben Swift of Team Sky (insert your own puny news headline here), after a crash takes out Mark Cavendish, Goss, Tyler Farrar, and others, 4k from the finish. This crash puts any hope Cavendish has for a stage win or even a good GC placing to rest, as the crash bangs him up good – he finishes the Tour in the Lanterne Rouge spot (last place)! Up at the front, McEwen crosses the line second and gets the Ochre jersey. Even though McEwen now has the same time as Goss, he takes the jersey because he has more points. Australians rule the break and one of those Australians, Tim Roe of BMC, tried for a late solo breakaway, but was reeled in with 5k to go.

Stage Winners:

  1. Ben Swift (Britian) Team Sky
  2. Robbie McEwen
  3. Graeme Brown (Australia) Rabobank

Racer Leaders:

  1. Robbie McEwen
  2. Matt Goss, same time
  3. Ben Swift, same time
  4. Andre Greipel, +4 sec

Video recap, Text recapFull results

Stage 3

In a fantastic start to his first year in the pro peloton, Michael Matthews takes stage 3. Having just won the U23 World Road Championships, Matthews made his pro UCI race debut with Rabobank at the TDU. On top of his skill, Matthews has some serious dancing skills on the bike as well as off the bike.  A puncture on the last lap left Ochre jersey holder McEwen to chase down the peloton, leaving nothing in his legs for the sprint. He comes in 3:11 behind Goss, the man in 2nd place, and he loses the Ochre jersey to him. Goss also punctures at 10k, but with enough time to reach the group and recover, he makes it back to the front of the peloton to cross the line in 3rd, putting him in the Ochre jersey.

Stage results:

  1. Micheal Matthews (Australia) Rabobank
  2. Andre Greipel
  3. Matthew Goss

Race standings:

  1. Matthew Goss
  2. Andre Greipel +2 sec
  3. Robbie McEwen +4 sec

Video recapText recapFull Results, Last km video

Stage 4
Otherwise known as the stage in which the breakaway riders’ dreams come true. After the group stays together to contest the first intermediary sprint (with maximum points going to McEwen), a break of 5 is allowed to get away. And because of the inattentiveness and lack of cooperation within the main group, and the ability of the break to work together, it was never to be caught. Thus, Cameron Meyer (Australia), a 23 year old of Garmin-Cervelo is able to take the stage win and the Ochre jersey! Meyer and Laurens ten Dem, 21 seconds down when the stage started, move to 1st and 2nd, respectively, as a result of this successful breakaway. Goss comes in 24 seconds later and is now 12 seconds down on Meyer, now in 3rd place. To get back into the Ochre jersey, Goss will need the time bonuses awarded by the intermediate sprints and high placings on finishes. At this point, there have been 4 winners from 4 different teams, all under the age of 25.

Stage results:

  1. Cameron Meyers (Australia) Garmin-Cervelo
  2. Thomas de Gendt (Belgium) Vaconsoleil-DCM
  3. Laurens ten Dem (Netherlands) Rabobank

Race standings:

  1. Cameron Meyer
  2. Laurens ten Dem +10
  3. Matthew Goss +12
  4. Robbie McEwen +15
  5. Andre Greipel +16

Video recapText recapsFull results

Stage 5

As there are 30 riders less than 30 seconds behind Meyer, he has to work hard today to stay at the front in this stage. Stage 5 climbs Old Willunga Hill twice, the penultimate climb of the Tour, and Goss’s best hope to break up the field and leave Meyer behind. The break of 8 riders only made it to the bottom of Willunga Hill before swallowed by the peloton. A lead group of 3 is chased by a group of 18 (which included Goss), who catch the leaders at 10k to the finish. Despite a valiant bid for the line, Goss can only manage 3rd on the stage, which is enough to move him into 2nd, but still 8 seconds behind Meyer.

Stage results:

  1. Francisco Ventoso (Spain) Movistar
  2. Michael Matthews
  3. Matt Goss

Race standings:

  1. Cameron Meyer
  2. Matt Goss +8 Sec
  3. Laurens ten Dam +10 sec
  4. Micheal Matthews +12 sec
  5. Francisco Ventoso +17
  6. Ben Swift +18
  7. Blel Kadri (France) Ag2r La Mondiale +26
  8. Andre Greipel +27 sec

Video recapText recapsFull results

Stage 6

Even though Goss is 8 seconds out of the Ochre jersey, he does have an opportunity to take back the jersey with 16 seconds worth of time bonuses available in the final stage of the TDU (6 at 2 different intermediate sprints and 10 with a first place finish). However, confusion in the group leds to missed opportunities during the sprints and a lose of bonus time. The final stage was a circuit race of 20 laps around Adelaide. The first intermediate sprint at lap 8 saw Goss just lose out on the maximum time bonus to Michael Matthews. However, he did gain 2 points as second over the line, bringing his deficit to 6 seconds. The second intermediate sprint at lap 12 saw Rabobank leading out with no sprinter, as Matthews, along with Goss, napped in the group, unaware a sprint was even going on. A furious sprint to the finish line ended with a one-two for Team Sky, as Ben Swift takes his 2nd win and Greg Henderson (New Zealand) takes 2nd. Goss manages 3rd, but this 4 second time bonus is not enough to take the Ochre jersey.

Stage results

  1. Ben Swift
  2. Greg Henderson (New Zealand) Team Sky
  3. Matthew Goss

Final race standing

Ochre leaders jersey:

  1. Cameron Meyer
  2. Matthew Goss +2 seconds
  3. Ben Swift +8 seconds

Sprint Jersey: Matthew Goss

KOM Jersey: Luke Roberts

Young Riders Jersey: Cameron Meyer

Best Team: Movistar

Most Aggressive Rider: Stuart O’Grady

Video recap, Text recapsFull results


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