Tour Down Under – Stage 6 – ‘Andre the Giant’ stands tall for Tour Down Under victory

Source: TDU Website

Germany’s Andre Griepel today won overall honours in the Tour Down Under and he did it in style claiming his fourth stage win of the six stage event.

Seventy thousand fans lined the Adelaide City Council street circuit in perfect summer weather for a thrilling finale to the opening UCI ProTour event of 2008.

” I’m really proud, and my team is proud of me,” said Greipel. “Everyone trusted me and I’m happy to be in Australia for the first time, and I’ve won the first Pro Tour race (here).”

Greipel (Team High Road) went into the stage with only a seven second lead over Queensland’s Allan Davis (Australia-UniSA) and with a maximum of 26 bonus seconds on offer during the stage the pace was hot from the gun as the Australians applied the pressure on Team High Road.

At the first of the two SA Lotteries intermediate sprints of the day a bonus of three seconds was on offer for the winner, two seconds for second place and one second for third place. Team High Road and UniSA set up two sprint trains approaching the line before they merged with Greipel tucked on the wheel of Davis as they turned into the straight. Greipel got caught in the traffic and his team mate Greg Henderson reacted to try and nullify the sprint but Davis was too strong and claimed the three seconds to move to only four seconds off the overall lead. Henderson was second and Stuart O’Grady (CSC) was third.

Five laps later Team High Road controlled the train for Greipel heading into the second sprint with Davis sitting on his wheel. This time though the team work paid off and Greipel claimed the three seconds with Davis in second place for the two second bonus. Liquigas rider Michael Albasini was third.

That set up a thrilling finale with only five seconds separating Greipel and Davis and a ten second bonus on offer for the stage win along with six seconds for second place and four seconds for third place. For Davis to pull off the fairytale win he would have to either win the stage and have Greipel finish no higher than third, or come second and have Greipel out of the placings

As the finish line approached Davis laid it all on the line but Greipel responded to the challenge and surged to the front to claim the win.

“My teammates took care of me….. (and) my sports director told me before the race, ‘You don’t have to think about your jersey, try to do your own sprint and win the stage again,” said Greipel who delivered on the advice.
“I couldn’t have done anything more,” said Davis. “I said before (the stage) I’d go down fighting, no matter what and

I won the first sprint, put everything into it … put everything into the second sprint, was up there second again, not far behind Greipel.

” I felt good enough to actually roll him so I was hoping everything was going well for the last sprint,” Davis explained. “I hit the front 200m to go in the bike race, chance to win (but) Andre was too good once again.

“As soon as I saw him go past me, that was it, the stage and tour,” said Davis. “But I crossed the line knowing I couldn’t have done one more centimetre harder than what I did and to the UniSA guys, every one of them, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it has been an honour and a privilege riding with you boys this week.

“Not only today, all week, you’ve worked so well, Dave Sanders, the soigneurs and mechanics, we been put together in a world class cycling event and we’ve nearly pulled it off,” said Davis of the national team line up given special permission to race in the ProTour event. “It’s been so professional, so I’d like to thank the guys from the bottom of my heart.”

Greipel’s performances this week also puts him on top of the UCI ProTour standings heading into the second race of the series, the Tour of Flanders, being staged in Belgium on April 6th.

Greipel also claimed overall honours in the ‘SA Lotteries’ Sprint Classification while Franciase des Jeux rider Philippe Gilbert (BEL) was awarded the ‘South Australia – A Brilliant Blend’ King of the Mountain title. Allan Davis was named the Hindmarsh Most Aggressive rider for Stage 6 and the ‘Share the Road’ Best Young Rider (U25) went to Spaniard Jose Rojas (Caisse d’Epargne) who finished third on the overall classification, 33 seconds off the winning time of Greipel. The Bartercard Winning Team was awarded to Francaise des Jeux on a countback. Stuart O’Grady was presented with the ‘Tanya Denver Memorial Award’ as the highest placed South Australian for his tenth place overall.

Crowd attendance at the 2008 Tour Down Under and Down Under Classic topped half a million for the first time since the event began in 1999. The official spectator estimate for 2008 was 533,000.

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