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Jacob\’s Creek Tour Down Under – Stages 3, 4

January 22, 2005 – Here is an update on the JCTDU from Navigators Insurance.

Stage-3: Glenelg to Victor Harbor

The first two stages of the 1005 Jacobs Creek Tour Down Under have been, as predicted, a sprinter’s battle. Today’s 129km stage from the coastal resort town of Glenelg to the south shore beach resort in Victor Harbor was expected to be a great opportunity to create some distinction in the classification categories. A fierce head wind, with gale force strength at times, would face the riders for most of the 100km trek across the peninsula, and two short stinging climbs in the last 30km were sure to provide an opportunity for the aggressive.

After an eight km neutral zone, the race was launched and the riders approached the steady climb inland along the Southern Expressway. The attacks began immediately, and one break after another was reeled in until a group of 26 separated from the main bunch. Virtually every team had representation, and although race leader McEwen was not present, he had two teammates in the cover. Credit Agricole and Liberty Seguros were the big winners with four each, and O’Grady and Koerts were in for Cofidis, and the young Australian Gene Bates was with two teammates for UniSA. The Navigators Insurance team was again represented by Irish champion David O’Loughlin, wearing the most aggressive rider’s jersey, and the lone Navigators representative in the group. The opportunity was perfect for Liberty, and with McEwen absent, there was a real incentive to push the group forward, and the gap grew rapidly. Ironically, the one team to miss out completely was the powerful Quick-Step team of World TT champion Michael Rogers. On orders from their car, the team went to the front in an organized chase, but the seven-man team could not maintain the pace of the 26 motivated escapees, and the gap grew.

Quick-Step conceded, and the race was over for the main bunch as their deficit grew to over 30 minutes. The two bonus sprints were fiercely contested with Panaria’s Grillo edging Liberty’s Allan Davis in the first, and Davis getting the reversed call in a photo finish for the second. O’Grady grabbed the third place 1″ bonus in both. The Mountains jersey set up another fast sprint, and Bates nudged Navigators’ O’Loughlin, leaving the two tied for first place points at the finish.

Davis now had the lead on the road by 2″ over Grillo, but with the dangerous speed represented in Grillo and O’Grady, Liberty decided to play the wild card and sent the young Spaniard, Luis Leon Sanchez Gil on the attack on the difficult Greenhills climb 20km from the finish. The attack was swift, and only Lotto’s Johan Van Summeren could bridge, as Koerts was dropped from the group. The two went out to nearly two minutes before the four Credit Agricole riders, and the now isolated O’Grady took up chase. The chase serious, and the steady rolling terrain began to take its toll; finally splitting the group in two on the final short climbs 4km from the line. As the two leaders set up the sprint, the 13 remaining chasers rushed to close the gap. In front of a massive crowd, Van Summeren led the sprint and Sanchez Gil pounced to take the win for Liberty, as the young Bates bested the field 16 seconds later. O’Loughlin finished with the chase group in 14th.

Stage-4: Unley to Hahndorf

After yesterday’s big escape, 25 riders remain within striking distance at the start of stage four, providing plenty of stage-win possibilities for the remaining starters. After a 7km neutral start, the flag dropped as the field entered the M1 interstate highway and began a 14km climb from the Adelaide suburb of Unley to the rural village of Aldgate. The flag had barely dropped to the starter’s side when the first volley of attacks were launched. The assault was so vicious that Lampre’s Dario Pieri was dropped in the first kilometer, and a dozen riders were immediately put in serious difficulty, struggling to stay within the relatively short caravan. One break after another launched and was retrieved, and by the time the peloton reached the crest, 11 riders had been left behind, with 20 more chasing back through the cars on the twisty descent. The most persistent attackers were Credit’s Sebastien Joly, who was gone no less than eight times, and Navigators’ Nathan O’Neill who was determined to make his presence felt. In the end, Joly’s persistence paid off, and a five man break formed around the half way point.

Joly was joined by stages one and two winner McEwen, Cofidis’ Matt White, Frederic Finot of FDJ, and AG2R’s Nicolas Portal. Panaria’s Baliani bridged after a long chase, and the stage was set. Liberty was more than happy to let the group ride since all the escapees were over 30 minutes back on GC. Riding a steady pace, and with no chase from behind, the leaders gained nearly six minutes before the Navigators Insurance squad organized at the front of the peloton. The American team chased for about 40 km, cutting the gap to just over two minutes before yielding in the last 15 km. A short climb about 5km from the finish was the launching pad for White as he jumped clear of the main group and held a 100-meter advantage. Head down, and legs pumping, White powered his way into the German settled town of Hahndorf and drove to the line as thousands lined both sides of the street for the last two kilometers. McEwen bested the rest in the sprint for second, just two” behind White. The persistent Joly finished third.

Stage 4:
1. Matthew White (Cofidis)
2. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto)
3. Sebastien Joly (Crédit Agricole)

1. Sanchez Gil (Liberty Seguros)
2. Johan Van Summeren (Davitamon-Lotto) @ :02
3. Paride Grillo (Ceramiche Panaria) @ :12
23. David O’Loughlin (Navigators Insurance) @ 3:06

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