January 22, 2005 – Victorian Simon Gerrans was today crowned the 2006 Jacob’s Creek Tour Down Under champion, becoming the first rider in the eight year history of the race to claim the lead on the first stage and hold it until the finish.
An estimated 435,000 fans turned out during the five days of the race to support the world class field despite a record heatwave that saw temperatures soar past the 40 degree Celsius mark.
At the completion of 676 kilometres of racing Gerrans finished the Tour in first place in a total race time for the journey of 16hr36min54sec, seven seconds clear of 2005 race champion Spaniard Luis Sanchez of Liberty Seguros with Queensland’s Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto), 14 seconds behind Gerrans.
25 year-old Gerrans, who rides with the French registered AG2R-Prevoyance team that has been newly promoted to the ProTour status, was overjoyed with his win which puts him on track for an impressive 2006 season after 2005 credits, which included a third place on stage 17 in his debut Tour de France, and his overall victory in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Victoria.
“I’m just absolutely rapt, I can’t believe that I’ve had the lead from the first stage right through to today,” said Gerrans after crossing the line safely in the main field on the final stage. “It’s just an incredible feeling.
“My team mates rode a fantastic race, they backed me since the first day and protected me on every stage and there’s no way I could have done it without them.”
The final stage panned out well for Gerrans with a small break away group getting away early but containing no-one who posed a threat to the overall rankings. But he still took care to avoid any trouble.
“I didn’t take any risks,” said Gerrans. “I just did what I had to do and crossed the line.
“I’ve given myself a bit of a surprise this week… if someone had told me I would lead the Tour from start to finish last week I wouldn’t have believed it at all,” Gerrans said. “I guess I’ve shown something to myself as well as everybody else this week and this should do my Commonwealth Games selection chances a lot of good.”
Gerrans flies out to Europe tomorrow to start the season with a solid race program scheduled for the next six weeks.
Meantime the final stage, 81km raced today over 18 laps of the Adelaide City Circuit, gave Bundaberg’s Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros) his second stage win of the Tour when he narrowly edged out 11 time Tour Down Under stage winner, McEwen with Simone Cadamuro (ITA – Milram) third in a frantic final sprint for stage honours.
Davis broke an eight year duck to claim victory on the second stage into Hahndorf on Thursday after being one of only two riders to have raced in all eight Jacob’s Creek Tours Down Under and not won a stage. Now he has two under his belt.
“I got on Robbie’s (McEwen) wheel and just went from there,” said Davis whose parents were trackside to cheer him on. “He gave me a good run into the finish. I’ve gradually progressed every year and maybe things are starting to pay off.”
His Liberty Seguros-Wurth team was happy with Davis’ second stage win, which also put him on top of the SA Lotteries Sprint Classification for the race, but a little disappointed they weren’t able to secure a back-to-back win for defending Tour champion, Luis Sanchez.
“I tried everything I could yesterday, as did the team, to help Luis – we basically laid it on the line for him,” said Davis. “But Simon and the AG2R guys were too good. We have no excuses and we still came away with three stage wins (Carlos Barredo won Stage 3) and second overall.”
The Century 21 Most Aggressive Rider jersey for stage five was awarded to Italian Luca Paolini of the Liquigas-Bianchi team who was very active in the early breakaway group. Victorian Cadel Evans hung onto the Laubman and Pank King of the Mountain title and the UniSA-Australia line up took out the Panasonic Winning Team title.
1 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros-WÃ¼rth Team 1.49.47 (44.3 km/h)
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
3 Simone Cadamuro (Ita) Team Milram
4 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole
5 Steven Caethoven (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-T Interim
6 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Liberty Seguros-WÃ¼rth Team
7 Matthew Goss (Aus) South Australia.com-AIS Cycling
8 Simon Clarke (Aus) South Australia.com-AIS Cycling
9 Marco Righetto (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
10 Dennis Haueisen (Ger) Team Milram
1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Ag2r Prevoyance 16.36.54
2 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Liberty Seguros-WÃ¼rth Team 0.07
3 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 0.14
4 William Walker (Aus) United Water-Australia U/23 0.46
5 Gene Bates (Aus) UniSA-Australia 1.48
6 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r Prevoyance 2.42
7 Russell Van Hout (Aus) UniSA-Australia 3.00
8 Simon Clarke (Aus) South Australia.com-AIS Cycling 3.19
9 Chris Jongewaard (Aus) UniSA-Australia
10 Glenn d’Hollander (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-T Interim 3.31