WorldTour racing began in Adelaide this week. Mid-way through the six-day season opener, we review the first three stages.
The first stage of the TDU ended in a mass sprint won by People’s Choice Classic champion Caleb Ewan.
Paddy Bevin was the top #GreenArgyle finisher in 19th place, on a day when the stage was shortened due to the extreme heat.
This was the right decision – it wasn’t good for the health and safety of the riders,” said Woods. “I’m fortunate that I’ve done heat adaptation, so I was handling it very well, but it wasn’t fair to other riders for sure.”
Compared to last year, when Mike Woods made his WorldTour debut in the Tour Down Under, how did this first stage go in 2017?
“It was totally different. Last year, there was a lot of excitement, because it was my first WorldTour race with a WorldTour team,” he said. “I had no idea of what to expect or how I’d feel.This year I have a much better understanding of that. Also, I’m a bit better known in the peloton, so guys are talking to me more. I don’t feel as much like an imposter as I did last year.”
We had a big circle around this one. Paracombe. We knew there were going to be gaps at the finish. We wanted to be attentive to any splits, maybe even force them.
Richie Porte (BMC) made the first move, and it was the winning one. The Australian attacked on the lower slopes of the category one climb to the finish line. He put 16-seconds into Esteban Chaves (ORICA-SCOTT) and Gorka Izagarre (Movistar), 19-seconds into a group into a group of 17 that included Mike Woods.
“We wanted more than this, but we fought like lions,” said Tom Van Asbroeck.
It looked like a straightforward sprint stage on paper. It usually does on the flat does — and the top of the stage results suggest that it was with Caleb Ewan (ORICA-SCOTT) beating out Peter Sagan (Bora Hansgrohe) and Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain – Merida) to the top step of the podium.
“We started with the day with the wind in mind,” said Tom-Jelte Slagter. “It was a windy day with some straight roads. If you have cross-winds there, it can be very stressful and a lot of things can happen, so everyone was ready for a real race I think.”
Despite the stress in the peloton at the start, the early action was minimal with a four-rider breakaway gaining a maximum advantage of 4:30, easily controlled by the peloton. The gap began to tumble on the finishing circuits – four x 12.9km around Victor Harbor.
“The speed went up and it got more stressful again in peloton on the circuit,” said Slagter. “The circuit is quite technical. There was that crash. It caused a small gap in the bunch, I think. It was not a very easy day.”
Mike Woods, unfortunately, ended up on the wrong side of that gap, losing four seconds, while Slagter finished on bunch time.
“I made a few errors in the final kilometre and a half,” said Woods. “I thought I was in a decent position and I wasn’t. It’s a bit of an experience thing but I knew coming into this stage that this could happen, and it happened to me last year. I should have known not to let the gap open. Unfortunately I was right behind a few guys that did. ”
Woods now sits in 17th place overall at 33″ while Slagter is in 21st place at 45″.