VICTOR HARBOUR, Australia (CT) – Italian Giacomo Nizzolo (Team NTT) has made the most of a technical finish to take out stage five of the 2020 Santos Tour Down Under
The win is the first for the recently renamed squad of NTT (formerly Dimension Data). Nizzolo was paced back to the main peloton after being distanced on the final climb of the day with just 23km to run. The whole squad then worked to close down an extremely dangerous break containing new race leader Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott), Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), and Rohan Dennis (Team Ineos) amongst others. Nizzolo then jumped on the wheel of Lotto-Soudal lead-out man Roger Kluge before launching his sprint. Simone Consonni (Cofidis) attempted to close the his fellow countryman down, but Nizzolo proved too strong, further back, a fast-finishing Sam Bennett (Deceunink-Quickstep) rounded out the podium.
How It Unfolded
The 149.1km fifth stage of the 2020 Santos Tour Down Under got rolling a little earlier than usual. The peloton rolled away from Glenelg at 10.40am and, after brief neutral zone, racing commenced at 11.00am. There were two abandons overnight: Laurens De Vreese (Astana) and Szmon Sajnok (Israel Start-Up Nation); added to the withdrawals during southaustralia.com Stage 4 – both Tyler Lindorff and Kelland O’Brien (UniSA-Australia), victims of crashes on Friday, there are now 133 riders still competing.
It took 2.5km before Axel Domont (AG2R La Mondiale) became the first breakaway rider of the stage to Victor Harbor but the Frenchman only enjoyed a maximum advantage of 50 seconds. Why didn’t he get further? Well, it’s obvious: Daryl Impey and his Mitchelton-SCOTT team wanted the chance to sprint for time bonuses. And if Daryl wants to sprint, then escapees don’t get an early opportunity. That’s how it’s been for a couple of years at the TDU and the script is being repeated in 2020.
Domont’s move was over 5km before the Ziptrak Sprint at McLaren Flat (33.9km) and guess what… yep, got it in one: Mitchelton-SCOTT dominated the head of the bunch and then kept the pace high on the approach to the site where points and time bonuses are on offer.
In a hotly contested sprint, we saw the world champion Mads Pedersen (from Richie Porte’s Trek-Segafredo team) take 5pts and the three-second bonus. Impey was second in the sprint: 3pts for the South African champion and, crucially, two-seconds off his cumulative time. This shifted him even closer to Porte’s GC lead; only one-second separated last year’s champion from the leader in 2020 (and winner of the TDU in 2017).
The effort by Mitchelton-SCOTT to isolate the sprinters going over Kerby Hill on the approach to Victor Harbor did split the peloton. It did lure a mix of strong riders to the fore. It did give Daryl a rush of adrenaline and the belief that he might earn some more bonuses in the sprint.
But it wasn’t enough to eliminate Porte.
Yes, the race leader is climbing well. No, not even the stunning work by Lucas Hamilton and his Mitchelton-SCOTT cohort could drop the race leader.
Richie Porte is the best climber in the race. But, for a moment, he looked as though he too was prepared to have a crack in the sprint… should it have come to that. But it didn’t.
Instead, what happened was that the surge over the climb sapped some of Impey’s strength and, once his group was caught, he didn’t have time to recover enough to take on the pure sprint specialists.
What’s that all translate to? Another battle of the lead-out men in advance of the rush to the line. And, this time, there was a chance for another team to celebrate.
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