ADELAIDE, Australia – Veteran sprinter Robbie McEwen
expects a fight to the death for the Tour Down Under title as the lead changed
hands again Friday two days before the race finale in Adelaide.
Fellow Australian Cameron Meyer, a world track cycling champion in his
second elite year with road team Garmin-Cervelo, claimed the ochre jersey
after a gutsy stage win in Strathalbyn in the Adelaide Hills.
Meyer now has a 10sec lead over Dutchman Laurens Ten Dam with overnight
leader Matt Goss of HTC-Highroad in third at 12 and McEwen fourth at 15.
With two ascensions of Willunga Hill on Saturday, the fifth stage is
But with bonus seconds on offer at intermediate sprints, and the finish
line, on the remaining two stages McEwen believes the race might be decided
only at Sunday’s 90km circuit race in Adelaide.
“If you count all the bonuses out there on the road over the final two
stages, there are still opportunities for the sprinters to come back and take
the overall,” said McEwen.
McEwen came into the race hoping for a stage win but after wearing the
leader’s jersey for a day he could now spring a surprise.
Goss has looked the on-form rider in the race so far but he will also be on
the hunt for bonus seconds as soon as possible.
“There are sprint seconds, there’s bonus seconds on the (finish) line as
well tomorrow in Willunga,” said the Tasmanian, who won the pre-race criterium
and stage one.
“I will try to take some seconds there and if need be, the last day in
Adelaide, there’s sprints there and also the finish line.”
A total of 16 points in bonus seconds is up for grabs on Sunday, three at
each intermediate sprint and 10 at the finish.
But McEwen suspects he could be calling on all his stage racing experience
during Saturday’s 131km ride from McLaren Vale to Willunga.
“Garmin will want to let groups go (on the breakaways) to take the bonuses,
they will probably use (Tyler) Farrar to do the sprints and take away the
seconds from the sprinters who are in contention for the overall.
“It’s going to get very tactical.
“It’s never over, but realistically the sprinters need to take some seconds
tomorrow (Saturday) to set themselves up for Sunday.”