January 20/04 8:33 am - Jacob's Creek Down Under: Stage 1 Navigators Report
Posted by Editoress on 01/20/04
Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under - Stage 1 Tuesday Jan 20th OZ time
Courtesy Ed Beamon - Navigators Insurance Team Director
The Jacobs Creek Tour Down Under began this evening, and the South Australian city of Adelaide rolled out the red carpet. Stage One featured 50km on a 2km circuit, with a 7:30pm start that catered to audience participation. With a crowd around 60,000 in attendance, the big sweeping criterium course was lined with fans, and the balconies of the local pubs and hotels were packed with throngs that had paid a premium for the choice seats. Large screen video monitors and speakers around the course brought the action to everyone in attendance.
The 2004 season's first race started fast with a series of attacks, and after the days 1st points bonus at lap 10, a series of counters set loose a group of 12 riders. Lotto Domo's Robbie McEwen was one of the last to join a group that included Panaria's Aussie sprinter Graeme Brown and teammate Giuliano Figueras, AG2R's Nicolas Portal, Credit Agricole's Cedric Herve and Mads Kaaggestad, Rudi Kemna of Bankgiroloterij, FDJ's Mark Renshaw, Peter Dawson from United Water, and Navigators Insurance leader David McKenzie.
FDJ had missed the boat by not having sprinting star Baden Cooke present, but the lead group was working well together and had built a lead of 40 seconds in less than 6 km. The leaders continued to work smoothly as the field meandered around behind. It was clear that the break would survive, and with four laps to go the gap was over one minute.
Without sprinter Vassili Davidenko on the start line, the Navigators squad knew a bunch kick was not a good percentage play, and had planned on trying to spring Macca late in the race. With the small group sprint an inevitability, the sprinting odds did not seem much better. McEwen, Kemna, and Brown were killer field sprinters, and three teams had two riders in the break.
As the breakaway rapidly closed the gap to the field, it was expected that the commissaires would pull the field in the final two laps, as had been discussed. Inexplicably, the field stayed on the course, essential forming a potential obstacle for the breakaway finish. Knowing the speed of McEwen, Brown, and Kemna, Navigators McKenzie hit out hard with a lap and half to go. To his surprise, he roared up on the back end of a still intact lumbering field, quickly slicing his way to the front, and keeping the pressure on the pedals.
Alone at the front with 200 meters, it looked as if the gamble had paid, and McKenzie would give his Navigators Insurance Team the first victory of 2004. But, the field provided the speedy McEwen with a new weapon, and his powerful Lotto Domo team catapulted him through the field, and he charged past the opportunistic Navigator in the closing meters, pulling the breakaway's fastest sprinters with him. McEwen took the stage going away in front of Kemna and Renshaw. McKenzie held on for 7th, after a powerful display.
1. Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo 1.02.19
2. Rudi Kemna (Ned) Bankgiroloterij
3. Mark Renshaw (Aus) FDJeux.com
4. Graeme Brown (Aus) Panaria-Margres
5. Nicholas Vogondy (Fra) FDJeux.com
6. Nicolas Portal (Fra) Ag2r Prevoyance
7. David McKenzie (Aus) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team
8. Peter Dawson (Aus) United Water
9. Cedric Herve (Fra) Credit Agricole
10. David McPartland (Aus) Team Australia
53. Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJeux.com
60. Philip Zajicek (USA) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team
65. Jeff Louder (USA) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team all s.t.
74. Kirk O'Bee (USA) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team