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"At the end I have this 9th place, which is not a super result, but for me it’s my biggest in a ProTour race so far, and I am happy with it."

Photo: Trek Factory Racing






23.01.2015 @ 13:20 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Eugenio Alafaci sprinted to 9th place in a crash-marred finale of stage four.


The tables turned back to the sprinters for the 144.5-kilometer stage four of the Santos Tour Down Under, and the heat, wind and hills made for a taxing and stressful day.


Despite two different breakaways that established during the race, and the strong gale wreaking havoc at certain moments, it was a large bunch that roared into the final, hectic kilometers. The sprinters had their center stage.


The tailwind conditions in the closing kilometers resulted in wicked fast speeds and made it impossible for any team to take control for long.


Trek Factory Racing surged to the front with just over a kilometer remaining as Hayden Roulston and Marco Coledan led Eugenio Alafaci out of the swarming chaos. It was perfect. Maybe a little too perfect:


“Today I felt good all day, it was a nice day for me, so I was feeling it was a good day to try at the end,” Alafaci explained at race end. “In the last kilometer I met up with Marco and Hayden and they brought me out to the front. 


"But I was a little too much in the front with 400 meters to go, so I was thinking it was good to give the road to [Mark] Renshaw and [Gianni] Meersman."

Then a crash within the final 200 meters delayed all but the front few. The peloton skidded to a halt, with only 10 riders escaping the melee. From this small group Steele Von Hoff timed his jump perfectly to claim the win - another huge victory for the UniSA-Australia team in a World Tour event - while Eugenio Alafaci, fortunate to miss the pile up, lost his momentum and came across the line in 9th place.


“When I took the wheel of Meersman the crash happened, and I was lucky that I missed it, but I had to brake a bit and I lost some speed,” continued Alafaci. “When it’s a sprint as fast as today, if you hesitate one second, it’s too late. I tried to go again, but honestly I was a bit tired, and I could not recover. At the end I have this 9th place, which is not a super result, but for me it’s my biggest in a ProTour race so far, and I am happy with it.


"Of course, if Giacomo [Nizzolo] would be in his normal shape for sure today, and even the first day since we have a good team here to put him in good position, we could play better in these finales."


Calvin Watson went down in the crash, but was able to get up immediately. He will entertain the bumps, bruises and road rash, all marks of the trade, for the next days, but will live to race another day. The rest of the team, as most of the peloton, was impeded by the crash, but under UCI rules were given the same time as the winner.


Tomorrow the Tour Down Under enters the queen stage and the fight for the overall will be a heated affair with the top 10 separated by only 15 seconds. BMC continue to hold the top two spots with Rohan Dennis in the leader’s ochre jersey and Cadel Evans seven seconds behind.  


Dan McConnell maintained his 34th GC, one minute back.



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