The experience and fast legs of Martin Elmiger helped him and his AG2R team to their fourth Tour Dow
PIC BY TOURDOWNUNDER Switzerland’s Martin Elmiger (Ag2r) wrapped up victory in the Tour Down Under by taking out the first bonus sprint of the day to increase his lead to three seconds over UniSA’s Karl Menzies. After a short-lived breakaway took the bonus seconds for the second intermediate sprint of the day, it was left up to Menzies to try to win the stage or take second place, with Elmiger more than one place behind. But alas, poor Menzies; it was Predictor-Lotto’s Robbie McEwen who took victory in the final sprint, pipping Credit Agricole’s Mark Renshaw to the line, with Elmiger and Menzies down in 10th and 11th place respectively. “I’d come here for training, and I ended up winning, but after feeling good on the first stage, I decided to go for it,” Elmiger said at the finish. “I was feeling good at the first sprint today, and surprised Menzies’ team a bit, I think, by winning it. “Without my team here, I couldn’t have won,” said Elmiger, who took the first stage race of his career, normally used to riding the one-day Classics. “It’s maybe the most important win of my career so far, but it was a very hard week. Now I’ll concentrate on the Classics again: Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and Amstel Gold.” The winner of Sunday’s 81km final stage criterium, McEwen, is another rider gunning for victory in San Remo, and the Australian was pleased to get off the mark. “It’s my first UCI win of the year, and it was a stage I’d targeted in particular this week. But the most important thing was to improve my fitness as the week went on,” said McEwen. “I haven’t done as much training in December this time as I normally do, as I want to peak in March for Milan-San Remo, but it was still an ambition to get a stage here. Now I hope to peak in March, in May for the Giro d’Italia, July for the Tour and then September for the World’s.” Elmiger’s Ag2r squad tend not to put a foot wrong in this race, taking their fourth win in nine editions of the Tour Down Under, but Elmiger’s teammate and overnight mountains leader Samuel Dumoulin got his maths wrong, misjudging the correct laps for the King of the Mountains laps on Montefiore Hill, allowing Chocolade Jacques’ Serge Pauwels to take the necessary points and take the red mountains jersey from the diminutive Frenchman’s shoulders. “The race programme said they were on laps 10 and 15,” Pauwels said, and, with a breakaway taking the points on lap 10, “I sprinted on lap 15, but Dumoulin wasn’t there. Then he was for lap 16, and I first thought it was me who had got it wrong, and congratulated him.” SouthAustralia.com-AIS took the overall team prize, with the team’s Simon Clarke winning the young riders’ competition. The race’s oldest participant, Laurent Brochard (Bouygues Telecom), won the sprinters’ jersey. Results 1 Robbie McEwen (Aus, Predictor – Lotto) 1:44:26 2 Mark Renshaw (Aus, Crdit Agricole) 3 Allan Davis (Aus, Australia – UniSA) 4 Steven Caethoven (Bel, Chocolade Jacques) 5 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita, Barloworld) 6 Hilton Clarke (Aus, Navigators Insurance Cycling Team) 7 Baden Cooke (Aus, Unibet.com) 8 Gene Bates (Aus, SouthAustralia.com-AIS) 9 Luke Roberts (Aus, Team CSC) 10 Martin Elmiger (Swi, AG2r Prvoyance) Final general classification 1 Martin Elmiger (Swi, AG2r Prvoyance) 15:46:38 2 Karl Menzies (Aus, Australia – UniSA) 0:00:03 3 Lars Bak (Den, Team CSC) 0:00:11 4 Matthew Lloyd (Aus, Predictor – Lotto) 0:00:13 5 Gustav Larsson (Swe, Unibet.com) 0:00:21 6 Luke Roberts (Aus, Team CSC) 0:00:50 7 Gene Bates (Aus, SouthAustralia.com-AIS) 8 Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita, Barloworld) 0:00:55 9 Yannick Talabardon (Fra, Crdit Agricole) 10 Simon Clarke (Aus, SouthAustralia.com-AIS) 0:01:43 Points 1 Laurent Brochard (Fra, Bouygues Telecom) 26 pts Mountains classification 1 Serge Pauwels (Ned, Chocolade Jacques) 32 pts Under 23 1 Simon Clarke (Aus, SouthAustralia.com-AIS) 15:48:21 Teams 1 SouthAustralia.com-AIS) 46:59:14 More information: www.tourdownunder.com.au Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.