Sat, Jan 24, 2015 - Page 19 News List

Von Hoff claims crash-marred fourth stage

AP, ADELAIDE, Australia

The peloton rides up Sellicks Hill in the fourth stage of the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Steele von Hoff won yesterday’s fourth stage of the Tour Down Under, while fellow Australians Rohan Dennis and Tour de France winner Cadel Evans avoided a crash near the finish to retain first and second place in the general classification.

The crash a few hundred meters from the finish split the field and left seven riders in contention for stage honors.

Von Hoff outsprinted South Africa’s Daryl Impey to take the stage win, but his personal victory was not enough to upset the overall standings after four of six stages.

Dennis retained the tour leader’s jersey and first place in the general classification, seven seconds ahead of Evans, his teammate in US-based BMC Racing Team who is riding in his last UCI WorldTour event.

Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands was third overall, nine seconds behind Dennis and four seconds ahead of Impey, who improved his standing with his second-placed finish and time bonuses.

Australia’s Richie Porte and Britain’s Ian Stannard, teammates on Britain’s Team Sky, were among the riders caught up in the crash, which happened as the peloton headed toward a downhill finish on the 144.5km stage from the Adelaide suburb of Glenelg to Mount Barker in the Adelaide Hills.

Von Hoff was able to skirt the crash to claim an impressive stage victory, attributing it to the work of teammate Jack Bobridge, who led the Tour Down Under after the first stage on Tuesday.

“Jack Bobridge was looking after me and just saying: ‘Be patient, be patient,’” Von Hoff said. “I know these roads like the back of my hand. I managed to find Wouter Wippet’s wheel and just sat on it until those guys got a little bit tired and went.”

Yesterday’s stage featured two clear breakaways.

Five riders, including Bobridge and Australians Nathan Haas and Michael Hepburn, featured in the first breakaway, which enjoyed a peak lead of about 2 minutes, 30 seconds, but which was caught soon after half distance.

The second breakaway, featuring Ruslan Tleubayev of Kazakhstan, Maxim Belkov of Russia and Pieter Serry of Belgium, was more short-lived, leaving the peloton together nearing the difficult downhill finish.

Michael Schar of BMC was close to the crash.

“The problem was we had a downhill sprint, so the speed was very, very fast, and some guys just took too much risk and they went down,” Schar said. “I was right by Cadel and we tried to pull back and were just hoping we didn’t go down, and luckily we stayed upright.”

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