Jonathan Cantwell, Darren Lapthorne, Bernard Sulzberger and Travis Meyer remain attentive in the final selection during Stage 4. © Mark Gunter
Drapac Professional Cycling continues to make an impact in their first WorldTour event, the Santos Tour Down Under. Stage 4 saw the peloton take on windy conditions between Unley and Victor Harbour with sprinter Jonathan Cantwell finishing 12th in the fast finish.
Cantwell was one of five Drapac riders to finish in the front group, moving the squad up to fifth in the Team Classification, 3:42 behind leaders BMC Racing Team. Twenty-three-year-old Robbie Hucker now sits 24th on General Classification, 1:18 in arrears of Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team).
Will Clarke again featured in the early break, while Wes Sulzberger had a bit more time at the front of the race, with four other riders before the quintet dissolved, refusing to work with each other.
It was a tough run into the finish with the peloton splitting in two distinct groups with around 60km remaining. Five Drapac riders made the front bunch that was 45 strong and included the ochre jersey of Evans and Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge). Cantwell, Robbie Hucker, Travis Meyer, Bernard Sulzberger and Darren Lapthorne all ensuring that the new Professional Continental team’s presence at the event did not go unnoticed.
Directeur Sportif Henk Vogels said that there was plenty of fight left in the Drapac outfit with two days of the event remaining.
“I’m really, really happy,” he said. “We had someone in the break, that didn’t work out. Then to have five guys in the leading 45 is a really good result and shows how strong the team is. We’re in the race.
“[Adam] Hansen got some points today in the KOM so we’ll see what happens tomorrow,” Vogels continued. “Top three in the KOM would be nice. Will’s obviously very tired. He was in the first break of the day, he had a bike change and struggled early on.
“We’ll try again tomorrow for a stage win and again on Sunday and if we can move up in teams that would be good as well.
“Wes was obviously strong when he moved away today. He rolled into the finish easy today and I expect to see him have a go tomorrow as well as Darren [Lapthorne].”
Cantwell, while disappointed he couldn’t snag the team’s first WorldTour podium, was encouraged by the support from his teammates.
“As soon as the climb happened it was really hard, lots of cross-winds,” he explained. “Orica GreenEdge tried to do everything they could to get rid of a lot of people and they did a really good job. Credit to our boys – five Drapac guys that were in the front 45. We’re strong and we’re in a good position and we deserve to ride at the WorldTour level.
“Coming into the finish, I knew the finish and I knew it was going to be tough. I had a fantastic position the last 20km, just sitting on Greipel and I wasn’t letting anyone in. Unfortunately with about two-and-a-half kilometres to go it goes down a really fast decent into a set of roundabouts and we got jostled around and lost a couple of guys, as well as Greipel’s wheel. Luckily I had Travis Meyer and he took me back up there but it sort of put me into the red zone going into the last couple of corners. I was just glimpsing at my heart rate and it was already 182 and we hadn’t even started sprinting yet.
“It was still a good day,” Cantwell concluded. “I’m happy with how the boys rode – Bernie, Lappers Travis Meyer, Hucker’s just riding incredibly for his first major race. I’m disappointed I couldn’t get on the podium for the boys. Tomorrow’s another day and hopefully I can be good for Sunday.”
Drapac snapshot results –
1. Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol 3:33:07
12. Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling 0:00:00
39. Bernard Sulzberger (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling
45. Robbie Hucker (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling
49. Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling
56. Travis Meyer (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling 0:00:19
117. Wes Sulzberger (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling 0:13:55
129. Will Clarke (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling
General Classification after Stage 4:
1. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 14:19:46
24. Robbie Hucker (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling 0:01:18
27. Bernard Sulzberger (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling 0:01:52
28. Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling
46. Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling 06:52
60. Travis Meyer (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling 14:24
81. Wes Sulzberger (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling 20:35
128. Will Clarke (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling 0:39:59
1. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica GreenEdge 62
11. Will Clarke (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling 15
20. Travis Meyer (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling 8
King of the Mountains Classification:
1. Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol 24
3. Will Clarke (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling 20
1. BMC Racing Team 43:00:38
5. Drapac Professional Cycling 0:03:42