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25/01 - Stage 6 - Adelaide - 90 km

An outstanding attack from Richie Porte gave him the stage win on Willunga Hill for the second year in a row. Rohan Dennis kept his overall lead with only 2 seconds. The same margin by which Cadel Evans managed to hold off Tom Dumoulin in third place. It will be interesting to see if Porte and Dumoulin will go for the bonus seconds in order to move up in the GC on this final day of the race.

The route
Despite Tour Down Under being a World Tour race, the organizers didn’t find the need to provide an official stage profile. This is mainly due to the fact that this is a flat criterium stage in the streets of Adelaide. Only 20 laps of 4.5 km are left to ride. As you can see on the map below, it’s not a very technical circuit. When turning right for the last time on the final lap, it’s straight-out for nearly a kilometer. The road is ever so slightly downhill, meaning it will be a very fast sprint. Is a wide road, so there is enough space to move up in the peloton. It also means it will be important to be on the right wheel as we could see more than one leadout train.

Despite this being a flat course, there still is a KOM sprint on Montefiore Hill on lap 10 and 15. The gradients are just about 2.5 % so the riders will barely notice it. However, as it comes just before a couple of corners, it’s probably the best place to put in an attack. Don’t expect a breakaway to make it all the way though. Anything but a bunch sprint would be a huge surprise.

Tour Down Under 2015 Preview

Bonus seconds
Except for the final sprint, the most interesting aspect today will be the two intermediate sprints, located on the finishing line, on lap 8 and 12. Each sprint offers 3-2-1 bonus seconds. While Richie Porte might find it too difficult to outsprint Rohan Dennis, Tom Dumoulin certainly is capable of beating Cadel Evans in a flat sprint. Giant-Alpecin will have their focus on winning the stage with Marcel Kittel but if Dumoulin is up for it, the team should really try to put the young Dutchman on the podium.

The favorites
There is no doubt that Marcel Kittel is the number one favorite today. Even though he has never won a stage in Tour Down Under before, Kittel has proved to be in good shape. He won People’s Choice Classic after a perfect leadout by Koen de Kort and now he hopes to repeat that performance in Adelaide. Even if Giant-Alpecin decides to work hard for Tom Dumoulin in the intermediate sprints, it shouldn’t hamper their chances to take control in the final sprint. They have the best leadout in the race and they know exactly when to hit the front. Unless Kittel gets taken out by a crash or a puncture, it will be very difficult to beat the big German.

Steele Von Hoff might be the best chance of an upset. He won the Australian criterium championship earlier this month and left everybody behind when he opened his sprint on stage 4. He’s obviously in excellent condition and he will be very eager to prove that he deserves to be back on the World Tour very soon. On paper, this stage should be perfect for Von Hoff. However, the same could be said about People’s Choice Classic where he was nowhere near a good result. The national UniSA-Australia team has already had a fantastic race with two stages wins and multiple leader’s jerseys. If they make sure Steele Von Hoff is delivered on the right wheel for the sprint, they might just finish this race the way they started it.

Juanjo Lobato crashed on stage 4 but didn’t seem to suffer any serious injuries. For him and Movistar, this year’s Tour Down Under has already been a huge success. Usually, an uphill finish suits the Spanish sprinter best. During the winter, however, Lobato has worked hard to improve his sprint on a flat finish as well. Only Marcel Kittel could beat him in People’s Choice Classic and I wouldn’t put it past him to make podium again today. 

The outsiders
A criterium stage like this is always very hard to predict. It’s a short stage and everybody wants to finish off with a good result. It will certainly be a chaotic run-in to the final kilometer and it only takes a brief loss of concentration to lose your position and drop back 10 or 20 places in the peloton.

Riders like Niccolò Bonifazio, Giacomo Nizzolo and the Australian road race champion Heinrich Haussler will most likely be fighting for the podium today. So far, Haussler hasn’t been able to capitalize on his great condition and he must be eager to finally get it right this time. Greg Henderson, Mark Renshaw and Rudiger Selig are all in good shape and will do whatever they can to finish off this race in a good way too.

Personally, I’ve been very impressed by Wouter Wippert. I named him in the overall preview as one of many outsiders for the sprints. He finished 3rd in People’s Choice Classic and he nearly pulled off a big win in Mount Barker on stage 4. It would be a mistake not to consider him as a very serious candidate for today’s sprint. Today’s course suits the Dutchman and in case the top favorites miss out, Wippert could very well take the biggest win of his career with a well-timed sprint.

Despite riding on home soil, GreenEdge don’t really have a rider for the sprints in Tour Down Under this year. Therefore, their best chance is to attack. Luke Durbridge, Cam Meyer and Michael Hepburn are all excellent track riders who know how to keep a high pace on their own. I would be surprised not to see at least one of them try to attack today. Daryl Impey may also give it a go, trying to improve his overall position.

For live coverage of the stage, go to steephill.tv.

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