Three-time world champion, Oscar Freire, has won the fourth stage of the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under.
The Spanish veteran, was first of a 40-strong breakaway to cross the line in Tanunda, after an undulating 130km from Norwood that took in two climbs in the King of the Mountain’s competition.
Speaking after his first victory for Russian squad, Katusha, Freire praised his new teammates.
“I am really happy with my performance today and with this first victory, which I could reach so early in the season. But, more than that, I´m really glad I won for my new team Katusha. Today was a hard stage, but I was feeling very well, especially during the climbs. At the same time, my teammates were always close to me, helping me a lot. They did their best for today’s victory, which is not only mine but my teammates too,” he said.
Gerald Ciolek (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) outsprinted Daniele Bennati (Radioshack-Nissan-Trek) to claim second place. Martin Kohler (BMC) regained the ochre jersey from Germany’s Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol).
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. I didn’t expect it,” said Kohler of his second stint in the leader’s jersey.
“I thought that the finale wasn’t that hard, but it turned out that Greipel got dropped. He won the first immediate sprint and I was already thinking, ‘Oh, now, he’s already 11 seconds in the lead.’ But in the end, it was several minutes that he lost.”
Grepeil now lies in 49th place on the general classification, effectively ending his attempt at a record third overall victory at the Tour Down Under.
Kohler leads by just two seconds from Australian sprinter, Michael Matthews (Rabobank), and Freire. Gerald Ciolek (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Simon Gerrans (GreenEDGE) round out the top five. Team Sky’s leader at the Tour Down Under, Edvald Boasson Hagen, is seventh, on the same time as Gerrans, eight seconds off the lead.
Tomorrow’s 151km fifth stage ends with two ascents of Old Willunga Hill.
Tour Down Under stage four
1) Oscar Freire (SPA) – Katusha – 3:08:34
2) Gerald Ciolek – (GER) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep
3) Daniele Bennati – (ITA) RadioShack-Nissan-Trek
4) Edvald Boasson Hagen – (NOR) – Team Sky
5) Michael Matthews – (AUS) – Rabobank
6) Jose Joaquin Rojas – (SPA) – Movistar
7) Luke Roberts – (AUS) – SaxoBank
8) Kristijan Koren – (SVK) – Liquigas-Cannondale
9) Sergey Lagutin – (UZB) – Vacansoleil-DCM
10) Heinrich Haussler – (AUS) – Garmin-Barracuda
1) Martin Kohler – (SUI) – BMC – 15:03:34
2) Michael Matthews – (AUS) – Rabobank +2”
3) Oscar Freire – (SPA) – Katusha
4) Gerald Ciolek – (GER) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep +6”
5) Simon Gerrans – (AUS) – GreenEDGE +8”
6) Daniele Bennati – (ITA) – RadioShack-Nissan-Trek
7) Edvald Boasson Hagen – (NOR) – Team Sky
8) Jan Bakelants – (BEL) – RadioShack-Nissan-Trek
9) Eduard Vorganov – (RUS) – Katusha
10) Rohan Dennis – (AUS) – UNI SA-Australia +9”