Andre Greipel won with a blistering finish at Victor Harbour in Stage 4 of the Santos Tour Down Under as Cadel Evans and Simon Gerrans continued their general classification battle.
The Lotto-Belisol sprinter won the 148km Unley to Victor Harbor fourth stage after a bunch sprint ahead of team-mate Jurgen Roelandts and Cannondale’s Elia Viviani.
“I think this was actually the first opportunity for sprinters today,” said Greipel
[quote_center]”It makes me really happy that we finally got the win.”[/quote_center]
The general classification took a twist with Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) reclaiming valuable seconds from current leader Cadel Evans(BMC).
After an early break containing Australia’s Jack Bobridge (Belkin) was brought back by the efforts of Orica-GreenEDGE, the peloton set itself up for the first intermediate sprint of the day at Echunga.
Some opportunistic riding from Gerrans saw him take the sprint and regain valuable seconds from the former Tour de winner.
Paced by team-mate Matt Goss, Gerrans cleanly won the sprint, with Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp), lying in fifth place overall, also edging closer to Evans, but by a single second.
The race then settled into a settled pace as the peloton allowed Michael Andersen (Saxo-Tinkoff), Axel Domont (AG2R), Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar), Cameron Wurf (Cannondale) and Wes Sulzberger (Drapac) to craft a lead of more than five minutes.
Wurf and Domont then decided to take the riding to the next level as the rest of the break decided to abandon its efforts. Behind, Orica-GreenEDGE controlled the chase as the peloton readied for the second intermediate sprint at the 116km mark in Yankalilla.
The wind was a factor as the race approached the stage’s high point in Myponga, creating a split which was missed by some of the fastest men in the race, Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano), Mark Renshaw (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and young Australian Caleb Ewan (UniSA-Australia). Making the front group were Greipel and Viviani.
Wurf and Domont took the major king of the mountain points at Myponga before they were caught, while the classification leader in that category, Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol), finished third to keep the jersey on his shoulders for another day.
The final intermediate sprint proved eventful with Gerrans, Haas and Evans jockeying for the best position, however the race leader suffered a slip of gears which ruled him out of the contest while Haas and Gerrans split the major points ahead of Lampre-Merida’s Diego Ulissi, himself a contender for the overall.
The result narrowed Evans’s lead to just seven seconds ahead of Gerrans while Ulissi cut his gap to 14 seconds, with Haas at 23 seconds.
A flurry of attacks were launched in the final 5km but Lotto-Belisol sprint train would not be denied the opportunity to give Greipel his first stage win of the race.
In the hunt for some more bonus seconds, Gerrans was in the mix with Greipel, but finished fourth to miss out on narrowing the gap to Evans.
Stage 3: 145km, Norwood to Campbelltown
1 André Greipel (GER) Lotto-Belisol 3hr 33min 07sec
2 Jurgen Roelandts (BEL) Lotto-Belisol
3 Elia Viviani (ITA) Cannondale
4 Simon Gerrans (AUS) OricaGreenEDGE
5 Nathan Haas (AUS) Garmin-Sharp
6 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEDGE
7 Maxime Bouet (FRA) AG2R
8 Nikolay Trusov (RUS) Tinkoff-Saxo
9 Anthony Roux (FRA) FDJ
10 Francesco Gavazzi (ITA) Astana
1 Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC 14hhr 19min 46sec
2 Simon Gerrans (AUS) Orica-GreenEDGE 0:00:07
3 Nathan Haas (AUS) Garmin-Sharp 0:00:23
4 Robert Gesink (NED) Belkin 0:00:30
5 Geraint Thomas (GBR) Sky
6 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEDGE 0:00:33
7 Rory Sutherland (AUS) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:34
8 Ben Hermans (BEL) BMC
9 Richie Porte (AUS) Sky
10 Adam Hansen (AUS) Lotto-Belisol