Sunday, 24 January 2016

Gerrans Win Tour Downunder

Caleb Ewan capped a near-perfect week for the Orica-GreenEDGE cycling team at the Tour Down Under by winning the final stage.

Team leader Simon Gerrans finished safely in the bunch at the end of the 90km Adelaide Street Race on Sunday afternoon to secure the overall title for a record fourth time. No other rider has won the Tour more than twice.

Ewan burst from five riders back in the final sprint with another withering turn of speed and won easily. The 21-year-old speedster also won the one-off Classic last Sunday and stage one of the Tour.

Gerrans took the overall lead in the Tour when he won stages two and three – the first rider in six years to take out successive stages at the event. Gerrans also won the Tour in 2006, 2012 and 2014.

The 35-year-old made no secret of his ambitions at the Tour after his season last year was ruined by a succession of crashes.

The Australian Orica-GreenEDGE team dominated the Tour, with Australian Jay McCarthy the only rider outside their lineup to hold the race lead.

Gerrans crashed near the end of stage two, which McCarthy won to hold the overall lead for one day. Gerrans immediately bounced back over the next two days and he retained his advantage at Willunga on stage five, despite Richie Porte’s storming win.

Porte’s win meant he improved from 10th to second overall, nine seconds behind Gerrans. That lead was never threatened on the last stage, given its flat terrain and the strength of the Orica-GreenEDGE team.

As always, stage six was marked by long breakaways that were never allowed to gain significant time. The race came back together with two of the 20 laps left and Orica-GreenEDGE set the finish up perfectly for Ewan and Gerrans.

Ewan won by several bike lengths, proving again he was the best sprinter in the race.

“Caleb bookending the race with the first and the last stage wins, obviously the overall,” Gerrans said. “I don’t think we could ask for a lot more. I couldn’t asked for any more of the guys [his team-mates] this week. It’s a great way to start the season.”

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