Report Courtesy of Gennie Sheer, Cycling Australia
2003 JACOB'S CREEK TOUR DOWN UNDER
21 - 26 JANUARY 2003
21st January, 2003
Victorian Baden COOKE, 24, (FDJeux.com) will wear the Jacob’s Creek leader’s yellow jersey into stage two of the 2003 Jacob’s Creek Tour Down Under after a controversial finish to the opening stage of the event in Adelaide’s East End.
Sydney’s Graeme BROWN, 23, (Ceramiche Panaria – Fiordo) crossed the line in first place but Queensland’s Robbie McEWEN, 30, (Lotto-Domo) immediately lodged a protest with the race officials.
After viewing the video replay the Chief Commissaire ruled that BROWN had deviated from his lane in the final sprint endangering other riders. He was relegated to 94th (last) place, had 30 seconds added to his race time, was fined 200 Swiss Francs and will start tomorrow on minus eight (-8) points in the SA Lotteries Sprint Competition.
COOKE, who had crossed the line in second place in the frantic bunch sprint for opening honours, was awarded the win with McEWEN second and Italian Luca PAOLINI, 26, (Quick Step – Davitamon) third.
“Certainly I think Graeme (BROWN) has a track record for doing this sort of thing - (he) came round the corner and in the middle of the road looked right, looked left and then saw McEWEN coming along the left and took him straight to the barrier,” said COOKE after the stage. “It’s certainly irregular but it didn’t affect me.”
“I had a clear run but Robbie was certainly justified in making the complaint,” COOKE said.
McEWEN was visibly agitated immediately following the stage but later refused to comment on BROWN.
“The officials did their job as far as the sprint is concerned and it is now the correct result,” said McEWEN. “I would have liked to have won but I had my run impeded.”
“I feel I would have won,” he added.
Meantime BROWN was philosophical about the decision.
“I can beat him tomorrow and the next day and the next day so it doesn’t matter,” BROWN said. “I think he rode stupid because there was less than one metre on the left and more than twenty on the right.”
South Australian Premier Mike RANN fired the starting gun to launch the 94 world class cyclists on their 25 laps of the 2km circuit before an estimated 55,000 people.
“I was in Woodhead International Race Director's car and South Australian, interstate and international fans were jam packed around the course, cheering on riders in what was a very competitive stage,” said the Premier. “As we saw in the rush to the finish line, no one was giving an inch.”
The riders covered the 50 kilometres at an average 48 kilometres an hour. Italian Fabio SACCHI (Saeco) launched an attack five laps into the race and was joined by six other riders including multiple World Cup Race winner Andrea TAFI (ITA – Team CSC), Australians Matt WILSON (FDJeux.com) and Nick GATES (Lotto-Domo), reigning Irish champion, Mark SCANLON (AG2R Prevoyance) and Spaniards Igor ASTARLOA (Saeco) and Alvaro GONZALEZ DE GALDEANO (ONCE-Eroski). The lead group of seven set a cracking pace as they battled for the points in the SA Lotteries intermediate sprints after laps 10 and 20. But as the laps counted down the main field closed in. With each lap the leaders margin decreased and with one lap to go they held only a nine second advantage as the peloton stormed after them.
In the final lap they were reeled in setting up a spectacular and exciting mass sprint finish.
“It was aggression all the way to the line and a fantastic spectacle to launch the 5th anniversary Jacob’s Creek Tour Down Under,” he said. “I'm sure that SA crowds will be out in force again for Stage 2 and the rest of the Tour as they've fallen in love with this great race.”
Stage 2 begins at 11.00am Wednesday at the Jacob’s Creek Visitors Centre in the Barossa Valley, an hour north of Adelaide.
Jacob’s Creek General Classification – Baden COOKE (AUS – FDJeux.com)
SA Lotteries Sprint Classification - Matthew WILSON (AUS – FDJeux.com)
Laubman & Pank King of the Mountains – Cadel EVANS (AUS – Telekom)
Share the Road Best Young Rider – Dirk REICHL (GER – Telekom)
Century 21 Most Aggressive Rider – Andrea TAFI (ITA – Team CSC)
Monroe Leading Team - United Water