Menzies on the sharp end of European racing
The Tour Down Under really came alive on today’s stage four. A slight emergency ahead of the start:
By Ellis Bacon
The Tour Down Under really came alive on today’s stage four. A slight emergency ahead of the start: a man with a knife had been spotted a kilometre into the course, but was swiftly ‘dealt with’ by the strong police presenceâ¦
Once the racing was underway, a not-very-dangerous 13-man group got away in the again wet and blustery conditions, and made good headway, building up a lead over the main field of just over four minutes, and remnants were still out front going over Willunga Hill â the day’s only climb â with 20km to go. The Swiss Martin Elmiger made his move out of the main field on the climb, and with his Ag2r teammates, last year’s TDU winner Simon Gerrans and Yuriy Krivtsov, in the chasing group with him, got a lead of nearly a minute over race leader Karl Menzies. But the Tasmanian’s Australia-UniSA team put the hammer down, and brought it all back together, with Chocolade Jacques scoring another stage win in the bunch sprint at the finish in Willunga, this time with Pieter Ghyllebert getting the better of Navigators’ Sergey Lagutin.
Menzies, thinking and hoping he’d managed to hang on to the jersey, was more than a little fed up once he heard that Elmiger had managed to get the two-second bonus for finishing third, and quickly apologised to the reporters around him for his outburst. Elmiger, on the other hand, joked that he hoped that, like on the last stage of the Tour de France, the peloton would just take it easy for tomorrow’s final stage.
No chance â there’s still all to play for before the end of the first race of the season: a 90km criterium around North Adelaide, with two bonus sprints along the way, plus the time bonuses at the finish, providing up to 12 seconds, meaning that any one of Elmiger, Menzies, Lars Bak (CSC â eight seconds down) or Matt Lloyd (Predictor-Lotto â tens seconds back) are still in with a shout, as, if it doesn’t finish in a bunch sprint, I’ll eat my cycling helmet.