Today the traditional break went up the road, and things settled into a nice rhythm, and most were likely preparing mentally for the two ascents of Wilunga Hill at the end of the stage.
What a great stage today! And we in Australia were finally allowed to actually watch it. Yes, Channel 9 decided that reruns of Big Bang Theory and Two And A Half Men were more interesting through the week, but with a big midday slot to fill on the weekend, they have generously decided to show some of the race live. Yes I am peeved.
Unfortunately for those not in good position earlier in the stage than said hills, some hefty crosswinds and aggressive bike racing split the bunch into pieces, with a couple of those expected to feature late in the race winnowed out prior to even making the climb.
Once the peloton hit the final circuit, the boys from Movistar particularly laid the heat down, with a little help form GreenEdge, Sky & Radioshack, and so the bunch that hit Wilunga for the final climb was down to under thirty blokes.
The adage that the first to attack is the first to be dropped rang true with Danny Pate shooting off the front, then getting spat out the back of the group. In the final 1500m it came down to Gerro from GreenEdge, Mick Rogers from Sky and Alejandro Valverde from Movistar.
Dodge went, Gerro and Valverde waited… Gerro went for it and looked to have done enough, but Valverde stuck it out and Gerro came back to him, and then in a super cool side by side sprint (which you virtually never see) Valverde edged away from Gerro to take the win.
Now they sit on the same time, and Gerro has been credited with the race lead on account of some sort of countback. I can only assume the conversation between the judges on the countback went something along the lines of “Give it to the Australian when at the Tour Down Under.”
There are still quite a number of seconds available in time bonuses tomorrow, and who will do what will depend on if the current official standings are ratified and confirmed. If GreenEdge hold the race lead, they will send blokes up the road or let a break go so that the intermediate sprints can’t go to Valverde, and then they have to hope that Valverde doesn’t finish in the top three in the final kick.
The likelihood of him being on the podium for tomorrow’s stage are next to zero, but the GreenEdge boys won’t relax until the race is in their pockets. And if Valverde does nab a second, the maths will all change. Good times.
And can you even bet on Greipel winning again tomorrow? He’s a red hot favourite on such a simple course as the final crit circuit through the streets of Adelaide!
Read more from Toby at his site, Tobbloganning.