Valverde Wins TDU Fifth Stage

Last updated : 21 January 2012 By Kev Monks

Alejandro Valverde won the fifth stage of the Santos Tour Down Under today.

Stage five saw a 151.5km race from McLaren Vale in Adelaide. The stage had two sprints and the two King Of The Mountains climbs with the finish of the second climb on Wallinga Hill.

Six riders including Green Edge's Stuart O'Grady in a race he has won twice including the first in 1999, and Thomas De Gendt, Miyazawa (Saxo Bank),Nathan Haas (Garmin), Kristof Goddaert (AG2R) and Hertfordshire born Andrew Fenn who rides for the Omega Pharma Quick Step team, were the first of 131 riders to make a break. 

Again, the crowds were out in force with over 100,000 being reported as watching the stage saw the break get ahead of the 45 riders who could win the race and build up a lead of 3.45, mainly thanks to race leader Martin Kohler calling a nature break just before Aldinga beach.

With 28kms gone, the six out front were 5.40 ahead of the peloton being led by Movistar and fifteen kilometres down the road on a glorious day, that lead had gone out to 7.25. With De Gendt, seven minutes and fifty one seconds back on leader Martin Kohler, the Vacansoleil rider was getting close to being the leader on the road.

The first sprint came at Aldinga on the second of three circuits but there was no sprint and Kristof Goddaert went over the line first, followed by Andrew Fenn and Stuart O'Grady.

The second came after 104.3kms and saw Thomas De Gendt take this one ahead of O'Grady and Fenn.

With the time gap dropping all the time, the stage moved onto the two climbs of the day, this being the circuits around Wallinga Hill.

On the first circuit, Nathan Haas (Garmin) attacked first and was first over , with De Gendt in second and Rohan Dennis in third, a good enough place to keep him as King Of The Mountains.

Hass was eventually caught by a leading group that included Geraint Thomas but was dominated by Movistar riders who had brought Alejandro Valverde to the front.

Team Sky's Michael Rogers attacked in the final kilometre but Gerrans and Valdverde got past him and they battled it out for the line with Valverde just winning ahead of Gerrans who takes the leaders ocre jersey due to having the better count back on Valverde.

British and Irish placings - Geraint Thomas 24th, Andrew Fenn 72nd, Matt Brammier 127th, Adam Blythe 128th, Alex Dowsett 129th.

The final stage is a 90km race around the streets of Adelaide.