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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, January 26, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

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Tour Down Under stage five reports

We posted the report from the race organizer with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Giacomo Nizzolo's NTT Pro Cycling team:

Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT Pro Cycling) sprinted to the stage 5 victory at the Santos Tour Down Under, beating Simone Consonni (Cofidis) and Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quickstep), to take top honours.

Giacomo Nizzolo

Giacomo Nizzolo wins stage five. Sirotti photo

The 149km Stage 5 of the Santos Tour Down proved to be one of the most thrilling of the week-long UCI World Tour race so far. Mitchelton-Scott took advantage of a sharp climb with 20km to go, and split the peloton in the hope of delivering defending champion, Daryl Impey, to the line.

NTT Pro Cycling’s Giacomo Nizzolo had just missed the front group, but as had been strategized before the stage, the Italian’s teammates rallied around him to bring him to back to the reduced group.

With Nizzolo now back into contention, the NTT Pro Cycling team worked on the front of the group to neutralize the remaining leading break that included the likes of Impey and race leader, Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo).

With a front group of only 60-odd riders charging to line in Victor Harbor, NTT Pro Cycling had strong representation with 6 riders in front and were able to take charge of the sprint finish in the final 5km.

Nizzolo finished off an excellent leadout from his team, sprinting to an emphatic victory. A first for the team this season and in the new colours of NTT.

Here's the update from new GC leader Daryl Impey's Mitchelton-Scott team:

Two-time and defending champion Daryl Impey has moved into the lead after stage five of the  Santos Tour Down Under.

Daryl Impey

Daryl Impey will wear the leader's jersey during the final stage. Sirotti photo

Impey picked up five bonus seconds at the two immediate sprints to overtake Richie Porte (Trek-Segafred) in the overall standings and will take a two-second lead into the final stage up Willunga tomorrow.

With 16 seconds on offer at the start of the day, Mitchelton-SCOTT went in pursuit of as many as possible in an attempt to set Impey up for the final stage in Willunga.

Finishing second for two seconds at the first intermediate, the South African champion went one better to pick up three bonus seconds at the second intermediate sprint. The combination of five seconds put Impey in the virtual lead by two seconds.

After shutting down a more dangerous large group, Mitchelton-SCOTT controlled a breakaway of four that formed following the second intermediate sprint.

With the help of Astana Pro Team, Mitchelton-SCOTT brought the group back at the start of the climb and with a fierce pace set by Lucas Hamilton, they split the bunch and created a select group of just 10 over the top of the climb.

Impey had two teammates for company in the front group, but a bigger group behind with sprinters and general classification riders who had missed the split worked together and brought the race back together for the final sprint.

Australian champion Cameron Meyer moved Impey up in the final kilometre, but it was a sprinter’s day with the 35-year-old settling for 10th behind winner Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT Team).

Daryl Impey - Race Leader:
“It’s fantastic to lead the race going into Willunga. I’m chuffed at all of the work the guys have been doing, it’s been fantastic.

“The whole week we’ve been trying to get into the lead here and put myself in a position tomorrow to beat Richie. I’m two seconds up, I don’t know if it’s enough but we’ve given ourselves every chance to win this bike race and it’s all up to tomorrow. 

“We did exactly what we planned on the climb. Lucas set a hell of a tempo up there, there was only 10 guys left so we had a very select group. I was praying that group would make it to the line because I fancied my chances there.”

Matt White - Head Sport Director:
“When you’re getting popped by the world champion you know it’s a full on sprint. The boys did an incredible job in the lead outs and to take five of the maximum six seconds was really good and put us into the jersey.

“The second plan of the day was to try to deliver Daryl to the finish with a very select group so he could take more seconds. 

“All the boys, we took control of the race and the ride that Luke Durbridge, Jack Bauer, Michael Hepburn did to control that breakaway and then on the climb they did all they could, especially Lucas, and they created a very select group of 11 riders.

“Unfortunately there was too many GC riders and sprinters who missed it, which meant there were a few teams keen to bring it back for the final.”

Here's the update from third-place Sam Bennett's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Stage 5 promised fireworks and delivered them in the last 24 kilometers, once the riders began tackling Kerby Hill, a second-category ascent averaging 5.9%, where the race exploded. Desperate to drop the sprinters and thus get in the fight for bonus seconds at the finish, the GC contenders moved to the front of the peloton and put in a massive tempo that split the bunch halfway up the climb.

Under their strong impetus on the hardest part of the hill, the gap of the newly-formed group went out to 25 seconds, forcing those behind to organise a strong chase on the fast descent to Victor Harbor. Deceuninck – Quick-Step sent several delegates to the front of this group, which began chewing into the advantage of the leaders, who despite their all-out effort were joined by the sprinters inside the last ten kilometers.

The technical finale once again disrupted the lead-out trains, splits forming in the peloton on the two sharp corners that peppered the closing kilometer, and leaving just two riders to fight for victory. Despite an impressive burst of acceleration after some great piloting from Michael Mørkøv, Sam Bennett managed just third, behind Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT Pro Cycling) and Simone Consonni (Cofidis).

“We left it late this time, but a gap opened up in the last corner, which was then hard to close. Today we tried some new things in the final, so overall it was a good learning curve. I am happy with how I felt on the climb, with the form I had here and the team’s incredible work. We still have to fine-tune some small details, but I think we can be satisfied with the week we had here”, the 29-year-old said after his third podium of the season.

Going into the final stage to Willunga Hill on Saturday, Dries Devenyns and Mattia Cattaneo are Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s best placed riders in the general classification, lying just a few seconds outside the top 10.

And Team Bora-hansgrohe sent this report:

The fifth stage of the Tour Down Under offered yet another chance for the fast men in the peloton. The route took the riders over 149.1km from Glenelg to Victor Harbour, and after a steep ascent towards the end of the course, over flat terrain into the finish. After Michael Schwarzmann’s attempt to make the break during the second half of the race was thwarted, teammate Ide Schelling was able to make it into a four-man breakaway. However, this attempt was ultimately reeled back in after 40 kilometres at the front, and the sprinters had their day in the end, with G. Nizzolo taking the win.

From the finish line:
“Several riders tried to form a breakaway, and in the end I was able to get into the break of the day with three very good riders, Pedersen, Stannard and Cerny. We had quite a lot of headwind and it was hard to ride on the front during the day, but I tried to shelter from the wind behind the others. I also tried my chances at being awarded the most combative rider prize for today’s stage with a little attack that I launched before we were caught by the peloton. It was a good experience to ride in the breakaway in my first WorldTour race.” – Ide Schelling

“The plan for today was to try to survive the final climb. Some of the teams tried to split the field there, but my teammates supported me well. We gave it our all to stay up the front, but the gap to the riders ahead of us was simply too big, and I didn’t have the legs to catch up. So unfortunately we had no chance today to ride for a good result. - Erik Baška

“We tried to ride for Erik Baška today and also wanted Martin Laas to save as much energy as possible until the last climb around 23 km ahead of the finish. In addition, we wanted to ride offensively with Cesare Benedetti and Ide Schelling and tried to get them into a larger breakaway group. After the second sprint classification, there were many attacks and Michael Schwarzmann managed to make the cut into a small break. Ide was also part of a 4-man group of escapees and he rode well, even increasing the pace significantly on the climb. Unfortunately, our two fast men were unable to stay with the front group and therefore had no chance to fight for the stage victory. Jay was feeling better today after his crash a few days ago and we will now ensure that the riders recuperate well in order to be able to tackle the final stage tomorrow.” - Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

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