Greipel too strong in sprint
Andre Greipel continued his sprint dominance at the Tour Down Under with a win on stage four, while Geraint Thomas maintained the overall lead.
- Related Content
The powerful German (Lotto-Belisol) again made it look all too easy as he powered into Tanunda to take his second stage of the race at the headwind finish.
Roberto Ferrari (Lampre) and Jonathan Cantwell (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) rounded out the podium but were unable to live with the speed of Greipel in a crash-filled finale.
Thomas (Team Sky) stayed safe on the run-in with the help of his team-mates and retains a five-second overall lead heading into Saturday's showdown on Old Willunga Hill.
At the finish Thomas said: "It was a stressful day as there was a bit of wind and I think everyone was thinking about the potential cross-wind sections. The boys were great. We stayed near the front with about 10 kilometres to go and they kept me out of trouble."
The Welshman holds a slender advantage over Tom Jelte Slagter (Blanco) but with a 10-second time bonus at the finish and so many riders in close proximity the penultimate stage promises to be a spectacle.
After a tough stage on Wednesday the peloton were happy to be greeted with slightly cooler conditions as the race headed out of Modbury.
As the stage kicked off few people expected world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) to go on the attack, the Belgian powering clear alongside Damien Howson (Uni-SA).
With the duo given the peloton's blessing the gap spun out to the three minute mark as Team Sky kept a watching brief, no doubt relieved to receive help in the pace-setting from sprinters' teams Lotto-Belisol and Argos-Shimano.
With the two men clear Blanco deployed sprinter Graeme Brown to prevent Thomas from claiming all important time bonuses with two sprint duels in quick succession.
On the missed seconds Thomas admitted: "[Brown's] team-mate is lying second overall so he was sent up to try and stop me getting those seconds which he did. We thought we may as well have a go and it wasn't a full-on sprint. It only started from about a k out so it didn't take too much out of me. We tried but it's all going to be down to Willunga tomorrow."
A late threat of cross-winds saw teams mass on the front heading into the final 10km, the break caught shortly after before a sketchy finish.
A nervous peloton and some parked cars contributed to two separate crashes on the run-in but there was no stopping Greipel who was oblivious to the drama as he romped home.