McKenzie captures final stage
By VeloNews Interactive Wire Services , Copyright 2001 AFP
Australian Stuart O’Grady donned the yellow jersey after claiming overall victory just two seconds ahead of German Kai Hundertmark in the close fought final stage of the Tour Down Under cycling race Sunday.
“I’m over the moon,” said 27-year-old O’Grady who races for the French team Credit Agricole. O’Grady, who also won the event in 1999, and Team Telekom’s Hundertmark entered the 90km final stage deadlocked on time with six other riders within eight seconds of the pair.
Cheered on by an estimated 100,000-strong home crowd lining the 4.5km Adelaide circuit, O’Grady crossed the line in second place overall but gained a two second bonus to claim victory. It was then down to Hundertmark and Italy’s Fabio Sacchi of the Saeco team, who trailed the Australian by three seconds. “I wanted a break to go away early so that all I would have to do was cross the line in front of Kai,” said O’Grady. “But Saeco and Team Telekom wanted to contest the first sprint so I got on Brownies (Graeme Brown) wheel and went for it early. I’ve only won three stage races in my career and two have been in front of my home town crowd so today is a very special moment.”
Just after the sprint at the 36km mark a breakaway group of nine established a lead and nullified the remaining times bonuses on offer at the 54km second sprint and the finish.
“Kai knew he was in a spot of bother when the break went while we just cruised and enjoyed the final 50 kilometers,” said O’Grady whose time was 18 hours 34 minutes 20 seconds after 757km and six days of racing in soaring temperatures that reached 113 Fahrenheit.
Fellow Australian David McKenzie of the Linda McCartney Jacobs Creek team took final stage honors after a solo break in the final five kilometers paid off.
“It was one of those things where everything just fell into place and I felt very clear in the mind and not at all worried,” said McKenzie. “I wasn’t panicked and I didn’t really have a plan to attack but when the opportunity presented itself I took it.”
“I felt like I had good legs in the final kilometers today but it still hurt as much as the Giro win,” added McKenzie, referring to his stage victory in the 2000 Giro d’Italia in which he covered 164km in front on his own.
McKenzie crossed the line in the final stage in one hour 58 minutes and 48 seconds with Australian Ben Day 17 seconds behind to take second place and Italian Luca Paolini three seconds further back for third place.
Tour Down Under, January 16-21;
Stage 6: Adelaide circuit; 1. David McKenzie (Aus), 90km in 1:58.48; 2. Ben Day (Aus), at :17; 3. Luca Paolini (I), at :20; 4. Torsten Nitsche (G), same time; 5. Kurt Van Lancker (B), s.t.; 6. Scott Davis (Aus), s.t.; 7. Jakob Piil (Dk), s.t.; 8. Gerhard Trampusch (Aut), s.t.; 9. Jay Sweet (Aut), at :51; 10. Allan Davis (A), at 2:05;
Overall standings; 1. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), 18:34.20; 2. Kai Hundertmark (G), at :02; 3. Fabio Sacchi (I), at :03; 4. Daniele Nardello (I), at :08; 5. Chris Jenner (NZ) at :08; 6. Alexandre Botcharov (Rus), at :10; 7. Patrick Jonker (Aus), :10; 8. Benoit Poilvet (F), at :10; 9. Glenn D’Hollander (B), at :21; 10. Cadel Evans (Aus), at :24