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Cadel Evans enjoys the spoils of holding the overall lead. (©BMC/Graham Watson.)
Cadel Evans enjoys the spoils of holding the overall lead. (©BMC/Graham Watson.)

Santos Tour Down Under, Stage 4: Evans Keeps The Lead

24. January 2014

Cadel Evans of the BMC Racing Team held onto the overall lead Friday at the Santos Tour Down Under but saw his advantage over second-placed Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) reduced from 12 seconds to five.

Bonus Sprints A Factor
Evans finished 13th on the day, in the same time as stage winner André Greipel, who won ahead of his Lotto Belisol teammate, Jurgen Roelandts, and Elia Viviani (Cannondale Pro Cycling). Gerrans placed fourth but earned three bonus seconds by winning the first intermediate sprint and two more for finishing second on the other. "It was a nervous day with the wind," Evans said. "Orica really took control of the race, putting the whole team on (the front) for the intermediate sprints. Obviously, the first one didn't go favorably for me; the second one went worse. That's really the element and especially for the first one I had the whole team there all ready to go and very well organized. Compliments to them."

Uphill Finish Lies Ahead
Saturday's penultimate stage finishes up Old Willunga Hill, a three-kilometer climb with an average grade of 7.6 percent. In 2010, with Evans racing as the reigning world road champion, he finished third on the same stage, four seconds behind winner Luis Leon Sanchez. "I think everyone's going to be looking at Willugna," Evans said. "If I am going to win the race than I am certainly going to have to do something pretty special there. Looking at the numbers, we have four stages favorable to Orica and two for me. So it's not in my advantage. Willunga will be important. But certainly if Orica can go for intermediate sprints they can eat away at seven seconds pretty quickly."

Reconnaissance Was Helpful
Sport Director Fabio Baldato said the BMC Racing Team's reconnaissance of the stage proved valuable, particularly when a surge in speed and strong crosswinds split the peloton with about 50 km to go. "We knew it was going to be difficult and technical," Baldato said. "Orica went full gas to try to bring back the breakaway to do the second intermediate sprint. Tomorrow will be a little bit different with a tough finish and two more bonification sprints and then two more on Sunday."

At least twice during the 148.5-kilometer race, Evans had brushes with danger. TV replays showed him narrowly avoiding hitting riders: first when crosswinds buffeted the peloton and later when he was pulling to the left side of the road to get to the team car … Two years ago, BMC Racing Team's Martin Kohler also led the race overall heading into the stage finish on Old Willunga Hill. But the then-Swiss national time trial champion finished 17th on the day and conceded the Ochre jersey as Alejandro Valverde took the stage win ahead of Gerrans … The BMC Racing Team has five podium finishes this season between the Santos Tour Down Under and the Tour de San Luis. At this same time last year, competing in the same two races, the team had one (Philippe Gilbert's third place on Stage 3 at the Tour Down Under).

Listen to complete comments on the BMC Racing Team Audio Line.

View photos from the race on our Flickr gallery.