Freire wins as Kohler reclaims lead
Fri, 20 Jan 05:41:00 2012
Three-times road race world champion Oscar Freire claimed his first victory in almost a year when he prevailed in a sprint finish on the fourth stage of the Tour Down Under in South Australia.
The 35-year-old Spaniard of the Katusha team led a breakaway group of around 50 riders across the line in three hours, eight minutes and 34 seconds at Tanunda in the wine region of Barossa after the 130 kilometre trek from Norwood.
"I was feeling very well, especially during the climbs. At the same time, my team mates were always close to me, helping me a lot," said Freire, who had not crossed the line in front since taking two stages in the Ruta del Sol last January.
"They did their best for today's victory, which is not only mine but my team mates' too."
Freire, 35, joined Russian-back Katusha from Rabobank this season after nine years with the Dutch outfit.
Overnight leader Andre Greipel of Lotto-Belisol finished eight minutes adrift, allowing Switzerland's Martin Kohler, who was in the lead group, to regain the Ochre jersey he had held after the second stage.
BMC rider Kohler holds a two-second advantage over Australian Michael Matthews, who is riding for Rabobank, and Freire, who is in his first race for Russian team Katusha, with the race likely to be decided in Saturday's fifth stage.
"I didn't expect to be back in the lead but we dropped Andre Greipel on the climb and then we were riding hard to make the gap bigger," Kohler said.
"Tomorrow, there will be 10 or 15 riders contesting the win at the top of Willunga Hill. It's going to be very hard and I don't know if I can keep this lead or not but I'm already happy with what I'm doing here."
The fifth stage is a 151.5km ride from McLaren Vale to Old Willunga Hill before the race finishes in Adelaide on Sunday.
Down Under Tour - Stage 4
1. Oscar Freire (Spain/Katusha) 3 hrs 8 mins 34 secs
2. Gerald Ciolek (Germany/Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) same time
3. Daniele Bennati (Italy/RadioShack)
4. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway/Team Sky)
5. Michael Matthews (Australia/Rabobank)
6. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spain/Movistar)
7. Luke Roberts (Australia/Saxo Bank)
8. Kristjan Koren (Slovenia/Liquigas)
9. Sergey Lagutin (Uzbekistan/Vacansoleil)
10. Heinrich Haussler (Australia/Garmin)
1. Martin Kohler (Switzerland/BMC Racing) 15hrs 3 mins 34 secs
2. Michael Matthews (Australia/Rabobank) +2 secs
3. Oscar Freire (Spain/Katusha)
4. Gerald Ciolek (Germany/Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) +6"
5. Simon Gerrans (Australia/GreenEdge) +8"
6. Daniele Bennati (Italy/RadioShack)
7. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway/Team Sky)
8. Jan Bakelants (Belgium/RadioShack)
9. Eduard Vorganov (Russia/Katusha)
10. Rohan Dennis (Australia/Australia) +9"Reuters