ADELAIDE, Australia (VN) — Garmin-Cervélo team manager Matthew White said after Saturday’s fifth stage of the Santos Tour Down Under that overall honors will decided by one of two men: his charge and current leader, Cameron Meyer, or Matthew Goss of HTC-HighRoad, who sits second on GC, eight seconds behind.
“Could have been a little bit worse but we’re still in the jersey,” said White. “The big thing for us is that (André) Greipel and Goss didn’t win the stage today; Gossy came close, and he’s going to be breathing down our backs in the last stage criterium tomorrow (Sunday).”
Asked if his strategy worked out as planned, White, a stage winner of the TDU in 2005, replied: “I would’ve expected a little more aggressive riding on the (Willunga Hill) climb today. All the teams sat back and didn’t do much on the climb, so I expected it to break up a little more than it did.
“We had Jack Bobridge under orders just to block, to go with anyone who went on the climb and not help out so much. In the end Jack ended up crashing with four kilometers to go, so it left Cam out on his own. … It’s always a desperate scramble with a big, long straight (to the finish). Hopefully everything’s okay (with Bobridge) for tomorrow.”
White said Bobridge’s penchant for breakaways had to be restrained somewhat when the current national road champion tacked onto the move initiated by Richie Porte on Old Willunga Hill, which was also marked and followed by Ben Hermans (RadioShack), the best-placed of the three.
“The rider from RadioShack was at 28 seconds (from the lead), so (Bobridge) was under orders to sit on. If they were going to cart Jack to the line, then we would’ve had a chance for a stage win. The first priority was to obviously look after Cam Meyer and one of the ways to do that is to go on the offensive.”
So what’s the plan Sunday, then?
“I think there are two plans,” he said. “One is to leave Tyler (Farrar) with Gossy to hopefully roll him in the intermediate sprints; the other one is to liven up the race and try to force a breakaway. HTC are going to want to take the bonus sprints, because it’s a lot of pressure for Gossy to win the final stage to roll Cam for GC, unless he takes the bonus sprints tomorrow out on the criterium circuit.”
If Goss does not contest the two intermediate sprints Sunday, which offer a potential six seconds’ worth of time bonuses, he will need to win the stage — and Meyer must not place second or third — for the HTC-High Road sprinter to win overall.
“Cam’s (Meyer) hands are tied; he’s not the fastest. He’s just going to have to wait and see, ride good position, and rely on his teammates to do the rest,” said White.