Stage 4 of the Tour Down Under saw the riders go from Norwood to Goolwa. Today was also the day of the Mutual Community fund raising bike ride which saw thousands of riders take part. This ride enabled all the participants to take the same route as the Tour Down Under riders. They departed at dawn with all attempting to make the finish before the professional TDU riders set off, some 5 hours later. Although it was a slow journey to get to our destination in Strathalbyn, as we negotiated all the Mutual Community riders, it was really fantastic to see so many people participating in this event and see the spectators cheering and encouraging all the Mutual Community riders as they went past.
It was another tough day for the TDU riders today. Yesterday it was 40 degrees, today it was mid thirties, but the wind was incredibly strong, making the conditions treacherous. A few hours into the race a cool change came that seem to drop the temperature about 10 degrees, but the wind picked up.
We were based in Strathalbyn today, just down the road from the feed station. You don’t realise how much food the riders need to take on to make the journey they do each day. They’re eating every 15 minutes and taking on fluids all the time. They pick up their feed bags, without stopping, load up the pockets in their jerseys, and all without really skipping a beat. They then throw away the feed bags which become great collectables for the spectators – we almost saw a fight between two people over one bag – they just go nuts over this stuff.
Once again the power of the peloton in these shocking conditions was simply awesome. Lance Armstrong broke away for a few kilometres, but got caught prior to the finish at Goolwa. As a result, there was another sprint finish today and the power of the HTC – Columbia power train brought home Andre Greipel yet again. This was his third stage win and now has a 20 second lead over the rest of the field.
We once again had a great day. We rode around some of the sights of Adelaide in the afternoon and spent some time in the Tour Village after the race taking a few photos and talking to some bike enthusiasts. Emily was very lucky, one of the riders from the Rabobank Team came up to her and gave her his drink bidden (water bottle) as a souvenir – she was very excited!
Even though there are two stages to go in this year’s Tour, tomorrow will probably produce the winner. Stage 5 departs from Snapper Point and finishes at Willunga. This stage takes in Willunga Hill and is probably the hardest stage of the entire Tour. This will be an exciting day. There has been a bit of talk about Cadel Evans and whether he can attack tomorrow and take a stage win or whether Lance Armstrong can do the same. Cadel’s currently placed in 7th position, but there are 29 people that can still take out the event. Don’t forget about Andre Greipel, when you’ve got the no. 1 ranked team in the world, anything is possible, even if you’re not a climber!
If you want to see all the official results go to www.TourDownUnder.com.au