Santos Tour Down Under: Simon Gerrans seals victory as Andre Greipel wins stage six
Simon Gerrans stayed out of trouble in Adelaide to take overall victory at the Tour Down Under.
Last Updated: 26/01/14 9:00am
The Australian (Orica-GreenEdge) claimed a third victory in his home tour after a safe passage through a rapid stage six criterium.
With a three-man breakaway soaking up the intermediate sprints Gerrans was left to complete a relatively straightforward stage to take the ochre jersey by a single second over Cadel Evans (BMC Racing).
The 85.5-kilometre closing blast around the city circuit gave the sprinters a chance for glory in a race that has been tougher than usual on the fast men.
It was Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) who rocketed around the 4.75km circuit to take his second stage of the race, leading home Omega Pharma - Quick-Step team-mates Mark Renshaw and Andy Fenn.
The final stage kicked off in Adelaide with the exciting prospect of the top four riders on the GC all within 10 seconds of each other.
Bonus seconds at both the intermediate sprints and at the finish were expected by many to play a crucial role but the final stage saw the main contenders largely cease fire.
On the first of 18 laps a three-man breakaway went clear instantly, only for one if its riders - Angelo Tulik (Europcar) - to hit the deck after his front wheel slid out on a corner.
His counterparts William Clarke (Drapac Cycling) and Maxim Belkov (Katusha) continued before being joined by Julien Berard (Ag2r-La Mondiale) to carve out a gap.
Heading onto lap three it was Team Sky who hit the front for a period, committing numbers to the chase as the speed rose significantly in the bunch.
More bad luck hit the break just ahead of the first intermediate sprint, yet a puncture for Clarke was not enough to allow the peloton back into the fight for bonus seconds.
With the trio settling into a rhythm the peloton reverted to a waiting game, Orica-GreenEdge initially setting a tempo before the sprint squads took up the running.
Evans resigned himself to second place while Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) cemented one of the best performances of his career with third spot.
Richie Porte confirmed a fine fourth, the Tasmanian protected by his Team Sky team-mates a day after his heroics on Willunga Hill, ending the first WorldTour race of the year 10 seconds back on Gerrans.
Geraint Thomas completed a solid showing for the British team, jumping a place to eighth overall after helping to guide Porte to the line with Bernhard Eisel during a nervy finale.