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Verity: Visiting the Tour Down Under is like speed dating

The lobby of the Hilton Hotel in Adelaide is where the real action happens at the Tour Down Under. It is where riders, team managers, UCI heads, agents and race organisers openly mingle with one another, so it’s little wonder that Tour de Yorkshire organiser Sir Gary Verity, likened the whole experience to speed dating.

Verity is at the race because officially the Tour Down Under is twinned with the Tour de Yorkshire, and the two races cross promote one another throughout the season. The man responsible for bringing the Tour de France to the UK for the first time in twenty years is also in Adelaide to attract the best talent to the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire.

“From my point of view, as the organiser of the Tour de Yorkshire, I need to talk to loads of different people in the cycling family,” he told Cyclingnews.

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“It’s a bit like speed dating. Everyone is here in the same place so I can get around the teams so that in three days I can talk to as many people as it would take me three or four week via email. There’s nothing like good old-fashioned human contact where you can sit down and have a cup of coffee.”

The 2019 World Championships

As he speeds dates the days away Verity can wax lyrical with regards to the high level of organisation at his races, the ties with ASO and the huge crowds that have come out for the first two editions of his race. The ace up Verity’s sleeve is that the World Road Race Championships will be held in Yorkshire in 2019 and any potential rainbow jersey contender worth his salt will want to experience the roads and atmosphere before the championships.

“We’d love to have the best riders, certainly the best teams as possible. We’re lucky in that respect because the teams like coming to Yorkshire because they know they’re going to get huge crowds and great television coverage.”

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on January 21st, 2017, 4:37 pm

Tour Down Under: Cannondale-Drapac come unstuck on Willunga Hill

At the start of the week at the Tour Down Under, Cannondale-Drapac arrived with a fully motivated Michael Woods and the experienced Tom Jelte Slagter in their ranks: two cards and two riders looking to shine. But on the key stage to Willunga Hill, with the podium still within reach, both riders succumbed to the ferocious pace and dropped down the standings after Richie Porte demolished the peloton with a solo attack.

Woods, who was fifth in the Tour Down Under twelve months ago was the first to lose contact on the short but punishing Willunga slopes, while Slagter hung on for slightly longer to take tenth. With one stage to go the Dutchman sits 14th overall, with Woods 21st.

“We’ve not actually debriefed yet, and we’ll do that when we get to the hotel as I want to give the guys a chance to cool down but you’ve either got it or you haven’t on a finish like that,” team director Tom Southam told Cyclingnews as his riders came over the line one by one.

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“As far as I could see the guys did a good job and we wanted a hard race.”

From the start Cannondale-Drapac rode on the front foot. Will Clarke infiltrated the early break and the rest of the team protected Woods.

“Last year they dawdled up so that’s why we put William in the break. That was great because I knew that with De Gendt in the break too there they would keep going and make it hard up Willunga. Tactically that was good because we wanted to tire out guys like McCarthy.”

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on January 21st, 2017, 3:26 pm

Tour Down Under: McCarthy leaves it all on the road but misses podium

Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) rode an aggressive stage five of the Tour Down Under but the Australian rider had to settle for fifth place on the finish at Willunga Hill after a touch of wheels disrupted his final effort. The result meant that he was forced to settle for fourth overall with just one flat stage remaining in the race. He finished fourth overall in last year’s race after spending a day in the leader's ochre jersey.

“It’s a tough result to just finish off the podium after today’s stage. The boys rode really well and we were calm during the first 110km of the race,” McCarthy said at the finish.

Bora-Hansgrohe rode a tactically astute race with their team centred around McCarthy. They sat back as Team Sky, Orica-Scott and BMC Racing traded blows on the front of the peloton as they race approached Willunga Hill. World champion Peter Sagan kept McCarthy in check.

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When Richie Porte (BMC Racing) stretched his legs and attacked to win the stage – and effectively seal overall victory – McCarthy held firm, aware that his priority was to watch his other podium rivals. When second placed rider Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) began to slip back, McCarthy’s chances for a WorldTour podium finish increased significantly.

However cycling can be cruel and in the blink of an eye the Bora-hansgrohe all-rounder found himself on the back foot.
“Coming into the first climb we were in a good position and weren’t stressed, and coming into the final we had a bit of a crosswind but I had Peter still with me and he kept me calm. We came into the final climb in a good position and at the bottom I could see a couple of the guys behind me in the GC that were struggling, so I didn’t follow Richie Porte in the last kilometre – I knew that his acceleration would be too much for me, I stayed with Chaves and we brought Henao back in.”

“Coming into the final 1.5km I touched wheels with Henao and I had to stop and restart and just as that happened Haas and Ulissi came back coming into the final.”

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on January 21st, 2017, 1:26 pm

No complaints from Chaves after Porte's Willunga Hill shakedown

Starting the day with the aim of winning Orica-Scott's third straight stage of the Tour Down Under, Esteban Chaves could only watch as Richie Porte (BMC Racing) blasted away from his rivals to take a fourth win in as many years on Willunga Hill.

While yet to race the Tour de France, Chaves described the atmosphere on the climb as the same level at the French grand tour, adding that having roadside fans call him name ensured it was a “special” and “beautiful” day's racing.

The result on Willunga Hill with Porte first and Chaves third was the same as the stage two hilltop finish in Paracombe but the recently turned 27-year-old explained there is no easy comparison of the two climbs.

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"This is double Willunga but Paracombe is steeper. It is different. Also, the Paracombe stage for me is I think was harder in comparison to this one because it is close to three thousand meters climbing. Up and down, the circuit in Stirling is not easy and this one is just seven minutes. We can't compare, totally different the climbs and still a great guy, the same guy, wins."

Chaves crossed the line in third place to move up to second overall ahead of Sunday's sixth and final stage on a city street circuit in Adelaide. While Porte's victory is all but assured with a 48-second buffer, Chaves has Nathan Haas (Dimension Data), and Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) at three and six seconds respectively to watch in the battle for the podium.

"We fight for the podium. At the moment I am second on GC and I am happy to start the season in this form. It is really well and we work really well. We can't complain, we won three stages with Caleb and second overall for the moment so we are really happy," said Chaves who is racing in Australia for the first time in his career and hasn't finished on the podium of a one-week WorldTour race since the 2014 Tour of Beijing.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on January 21st, 2017, 12:08 pm

Tour Down Under stage 5 highlights - Video

Richie Porte (BMC Racing) extended his lead and set up overall victory at the Tour Down Under on Saturday, once again riding away from the rest of the contenders on Willunga Hill to take his fourth victory on the climb and his second stage win of this year’s race.

Nathan Haas (Dimension Data) put in an impressive effort on the climb, finishing ahead of Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) to take second place at 20 seconds.

Porte won the stage in the leader’s ochre jersey and now leads the overall classification by 48 seconds ahead of Chaves, while Haas jumped to third overall, 51 seconds back. Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), who started the day second overall, struggled on the final climb and dropped out of the top 10.

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"This is not an easy climb, so to win it is great for morale," Porte said. "Obviously the biggest goal this year is in July at the Tour de France, but things are going well."

While it may have been dethroned of its status as ‘queen stage’ of the Tour Down Under, stage 5 rolled out from McLaren Vale, headed out to the beach for three circuits, and then up Willunga Hill twice. The climb was buzzing with anticipation from riders and fans alike.

Will Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac) tried several attacks early on in the stage and was joined by Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) -racing in the KOM jersey and chasing more points, Jeremy Maison (FDJ), and Friday’s combative rider Jack Bauer (Quick-Step Floors). The quartet were given plenty of freedom but everything came back together before the final assault of Willunga Hill, with Porte’s rivals unable to respond when he attacked hard and soloed to victory.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on January 21st, 2017, 11:18 am

Haas rides into podium position after strong Willunga Hill performance

With the pace already high as a thinned peloton hits the early slopes of Willunga Hill for the second time, Nathan Haas of Dimension Data looked to be struggling to hold the wheel before dropping out the picture as the cameras panned forward to follow the ochre jersey of Richie Porte (BMC) and his race winning attack.

Once Porte had crossed the line, the cameras went searching for the first rider behind the BMC man as a resurgent Haas came into view, leading into the final corner before the finish gantry to claim a ten second time bonus and jump onto the overall podium.

"Sometimes you don't get burnt because the fire inside is bigger. Today, I can't believe what I just did," an emotional Haas told assembled media as the realisation sunk that he had risen to third on the standings with a debut WorldTour podium finish well within his reach come Sunday afternoon.

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Taking a moment to catch his breath and compose himself, an articulate Haas further described how he got the better of the likes of Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) and Diego Ulissi (UAE Abu Dhabi) having been initially been dropped "so bad" at the base of the climb, only to storm back into contention through the power of positive thinking and breathe.

"A few years ago when I was contesting GC here, I made the mistake of actually choosing to get dropped. But today I thought I made the even bigger mistake of letting myself explode," the 27-year-old explained.

"I have been doing a lot of swimming this off-season and doing some breathing exercises. I just went into the back of my mind and started doing my deep breaths and asking myself questions with positive answers. 'Are you going to get through this?' and the subconscious just said 'Yes, yes, yes' and up the gears went. Then I started to use guys to move up, step by step and then I finally saw Ulissi go. He has got the better of me for a few years in these kinds of races; I wasn't going to let it happen today.”

"Obviously, Porte is another league and I want to take my hat off to him. So to beat him on something like this takes a monster effort but I am still so proud of what me and my guys did today.”

Dimension Data find an extra gear

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on January 21st, 2017, 10:30 am

Team Sky go down fighting at Tour Down Under

Sergio Henao and his Team Sky teammates went for broke on stage 5 of the Tour Down Under but even their collective strength was no match for Richie Porte who once again steamrollered the opposition.

Henao came into the key stage to Willunga with a point to prove after losing time on the stage to Paracombe. Even though he was 33 seconds off the lead Team Sky still held hopes of wrestling a spot on the podium. In the end Henao finished eight on Willunga Hill, even though he was briefly the only man to try and follow Porte after the Australian attacked. With one stage to go - a flat sprint stage – Henao now sits 11th overall, at 1:06 after other riders surged up to him and past him at the finish.

“The team put in a really strong effort going in to the bottom of the climb to put me in a strong position,” Henao said atop Willunga Hill.

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"There was a gap starting to form ahead of the other guys but I knew I had to continue on and I knew it would be difficult to follow Richie up the hill.”

“I was trying to get a place on the podium. It was all or nothing."

In praise of Porte

Team Sky and Orica-Scott set a furious tempo in the run up to the second and final ascent up Willunga. Ian Stannard, Kenny Elissonde and then Sebastian Henao helped to reduce the lead group to under a dozen riders and when Porte jumped clear to take the stage and extend his lead, Sergio Henao jumped too, attempted to match the BMC rider.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on January 21st, 2017, 9:56 am

Porte savours first win in leader's jersey at the Tour Down Under

Attack proved to be the best form of defence for Richie Porte as he distanced his rivals on Willunga Hill to take his second stage win of the Tour Down Under and first in the leader's ochre jersey.

Following his Paracombe win on Wednesday, the 31-year-old had his poker face on until the final half of the Willunga Hill climb on Saturday afternoon when he launched his familiar and vicious attack to take a commanding lead going into Sunday's 90km street circuit. While the battle is on for the podium with just 11 seconds separating second place through to fifth. Porte's 48-second lead over Esteban Chaves is monumental in comparison.

"It was the hardest one I've had so far. Attack is the best form of defence and I didn't want to go so early. I don't think I have attacked that early on Willunga. I was in a world of pain there in that final part," Porte said of his move to take the victory.

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"You can look at your power meter and all this sort of stuff but I think the best sign for me was when I looked at the other guys and they were more stuffed than I was so it was the perfect moment to go.”

Failing no mechanicals or bad luck, which have plagued Porte in recent seasons, he is on the cusp of securing the second biggest winning margin in the race's history behind Pat Jonker's 2004 triumph.

"Tomorrow is not a procession. I am in a good position but you have to stay out of trouble. I just want to finish it off tomorrow without any issues. I have always wanted to win this race. I remember doing this race in 2008 with UniSA and I have said it before, I would love to have my name on the honour roll," said Porte, who will in all likely hood claim a sixth stage race victory of his career on Sunday afternoon and see his name engraved into the steps of the race's Hilton hotel headquarters.

First victory in the leader’s ochre jersey

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on January 21st, 2017, 9:21 am

Tour Down Under: Micheal Storer aiming to take young rider jersey on Willunga Hill

Ahead of the Tour Down Under, UniSA-Australia director sportif Brad McGee stressed it wouldn't be 'lambs to the slaughter' for his riders, with his eye on the various classifications.

Midway through the race, McGee's tactics have seen his wildcard squad take the lead in the team classification ahead of the 18 WorldTour teams, with two riders sitting top 20 in the fight for the general classification.

One of those riders is Michael Storer on his WorldTour debut at the tender age of 19. Storer is also in contention for the young rider classification following an impressive eighth-place finish on stage 2 to Paracombe.

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"I really surprised myself. I didn't think I would be able to keep up with the best guys. Especially starting the climb a bit further back so I was really happy with that," Storer explained to Cyclingnews and The Advertiser.

"It shows that we are all doing quite well and we will try and put in another good performance at Willunga and the next two days as well to keep the team classification," Storer said of UniSA-Australia's bid for the team classification.

A climber who can pull out a decent time trial, Storer explained that the 1.6km climb wasn't ideally suited to his characteristics. Saturday's stage finish to the top of the three-kilometre Willunga Hill should allow Storer to fully express his capabilities, and that is precisely what he is planning.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on January 21st, 2017, 1:00 am

Neo-pro Hamilton gelling with new Team Sunweb teammates

 

Twelve months on from his WorldTour debut at the  2016 Tour Down Under with the UniSA-Australia wild card team, Chris Hamilton is a fully fledged professional wearing the black, white, and red kit of Team Sunweb.

Having chased a personal result at the 2016 Tour Down Under, finishing 14th overall, 21-year-old Hamilton is riding in support of Dutchman Wilco Kelderman. Explaining to Cyclingnews that at Sunweb, "It is very clear that everyone is in it together and work very well", Hamilton has quickly adapted to his new surrounds and is eager to ensure success in his first race with the team.

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"It is a bit of a new experience for me, first race with the team, second WorldTour race ever but I have settled into the team quite well, which is quite easy to do with such an easy going group of guys," Hamilton told Cyclingnews. "I am quite aware I still have a lot to learn, still a few things I need to be working on but so far so good."

On the Queen stage to Paracombe earlier in the week, Kelderman hit out early in a bid for success. While he could not match stage winner and now race leader Richie Porte (BMC Racing), Kelderman starts the key Willunga Hill stage in 13th place, tied on the same time as Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) in sixth.

With 29 seconds to make up on Porte, overall victory would be a tough task, but Hamilton refuses to accept it's a done deal the Tasmanian will claim a sixth career general classification victory.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on January 20th, 2017, 11:40 pm

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