ADELAIDE – Tour Down Under leader Cadel Evans must put time into Simon Gerrans on the famous Willunga climb if he is to win the title on Sunday.
Gerrans rode superbly and Evans had several nervous moments on Friday in the fourth stage to Victor Harbor.
German sprint ace Andre Greipel won his 15th Tour stage, but the bigger news was Gerrans gaining five seconds of time bonuses in the two intermediate sprints.
That reduced Evans’ lead to just seven seconds.
Apart from Gerrans’ counter-attack, Evans also had an ill-timed mechanical problem and two near-crashes.
On Saturday, Evans (BMC) must repeat the outstanding form he showed on Thursday, when he rode clear on the steep Corkscrew Rd climb and took the race lead from Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE).
Stage five features two laps of the Willunga climb and ends with a summit finish – perfect for Evans.
But since Willunga became a summit finish two years ago, Gerrans has finished second and then won last year’s stage.
The 151.5km stage also features another two intermediate sprints before the Willunga climbs, giving Gerrans more chances to reduce the gap.
And if Gerrans can stay with Evans to the stage finish, he will be well-placed to strike on Sunday in the last stage.
The Tour ends with a street race through the Adelaide CBD with two intermediate sprints and is far better suited to Gerrans than Evans.
“As I’ve said time and time again, this race is won or lost by seconds,” Gerrans said.
“I’m going to take every opportunity.”
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