Santos Tour Down Under: Stage 4 Ignites General Classification Battle19. January 2018, Uraidla (AUS) — Road Team
Stage 4 of the Santos Tour Down Under reshuffled the General Classification standings with the Norton Summit climb and sweltering heat enough to shake things up ahead of the Willunga Hill queen stage on Saturday.
With temperatures set to rise above 42 degrees, the peloton was quick to let a two-rider breakaway (Zak Dempster and Alex Porter – UniSA) go clear and extend a solid advantage of nine minutes after 30km.
Despite the heat, the peloton maintained a steady average speed and started to close in on the breakaway as they approached the feed zone at the 80km mark.
Demspter went solo soon but was caught by the reduced peloton at the foot of the Norton Summit climb with 18km remaining.
Solid teamwork from Richie Porte’s teammates was on display on the category 1, 5.8km climb. Miles Scotson came to the front of the bunch to put the hammer down and as he dropped away, Simon Gerrans assumed his position and prevented any attacks with a high pace right until the summit.
Porte took maximum KOM points, followed by Gerrans, after which the group of 25 riders began to attack each other on the run into the finish in Uraidla.
Porte was quick to respond to the first attacks before launching an attack of his own until it came back together once more. Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) then went clear and established a gap forcing Porte to chase him down and bring the group back together.
It was Porte who led the group under the 1km to go banner but ultimately Sagan took the win in the reduced bunch sprint, while Porte and Rohan Dennis followed behind in the group to finish with the same time.
Sagan now holds the ochre jersey while Porte and Dennis sit 14 seconds behind ahead of the penultimate stage which finishes with the ascent of Willunga Hill, a win that Porte has claimed for the last four consecutive years.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“No one really wanted to take the lead but I don’t think it was up to me. I didn’t feel good today. I felt empty, a little bit sick overnight. I had a pretty rough day. I’m not in a bad position. Today, the guys were good at setting a nice, comfortable tempo there with Miles Scotson, and Simon Gerrans did a brilliant ride too.”
“It was nice to be there with a selection because over those rollercoaster sections I think the stronger guys were at the front. We’ll see how Sagan goes tomorrow. Norton Summit is not a terribly hard climb. Obviously, today was a bit harder with the heat. It was such a hot day and it kind of felt like you were climbing at altitude there. Hopefully, tomorrow we can recover and Rohan Dennis and I can have a good day.”
“When we were coming into Gumeracha, the breakaway started to get too much time and being a bit of a crosswind there, it was hard to hold the wheel and everyone was pretty stressed. I thought it was a high chance that it was going to be a sprint but at one stage Richie, Georges Bennet (Lotto-NL Jumbo), Sagan, a Bahrain rider and myself were off the front with a bit of a gap and I thought maybe it the bunch behind stalls, it will be a five-rider sprint.”
“If we had another couple of guys to pull, I would have waited until a bit later in the climb but we got caught a little bit shorthanded after a kilometer or so, so that’s when I took over. I knew I basically had to get to the top of the hill so I rode at a tempo that I knew I could get to the top with. Then, left it up to Rohan and Richie from there.”
Santos Tour Down Under
Stage 4 Norwood > Uraidla (128km)
Top 3: 1. Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe), 2. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott), 3. Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana Pro Team).
BMC Racing Team top 3: 21. Richie Porte, 32. Rohan Dennis, 42. Simon Gerrans
BMC Racing Team Flickr Gallery
See photos from the race.