The final stage victory by two Team Sky cyclists solidified the Tour Down Under championship for Cameron Meyer, a 23-year-old Australian on the US-based Garmin-Cervelo cycling team.
Sky's Ben Swift and Greg Henderson took 1st and 2nd places for Stage 6 in Adelaide on Sunday (Australia time zone) in a mass sprint at the end of a 20-lap circuit.
While Meyer, admittedly not a sprinter, finished in the pack, Swift and Henderson locked up the time bonuses that HTC-Columbia's Matt Goss would have needed to win the Tour.
Interviewed immediately after the race by Paul Sherwen on the Versus.com streaming video, Meyer said:
“I'm completely shocked. … There's nothing I could do but just cross my fingers.”
Goss, a 24-year-old from Tazmania, had won Stage 1 and wore the overall leader's ochre-colored jersey for two stages. He trailed Meyer by 8 seconds at the beginning of the final stage and gained another 2 seconds by finishing 2nd in an intermediate sprint.
Track to road
But the duo from Sky, which had been unsuccessful in sprints all week, won the sprint, with Goss finishing a close 3rd. It meant Goss gained only a 4-second time bonus, which delivered the win to Meyer.
Goss finished 2nd overall, 2 seconds behind, and Swift finished in 3rd place, 8 seconds back. See all the results at the Tour Down Under website..
It might be one of the first times that a non-sprint specialist has won the Tour Down Under. Meyer has regularly won track championships going back to 2005 and is a two-time Australia national time trial champion.
Meyer earned the ochre jersey by winning Stage 4 as a member of a breakaway that survived for about 50 miles. That win propelled him from 46th place to 1st, with a 12-second lead over Goss.
The Tour Down Under marked the end of Lance Armstrong's international bicycle racing career. Two years ago, in 2009, Armstrong made this the first race of his return from retirement in 2005.
He'll race in the Tour of California and perhaps the Quizno's Challenge in Colorado as he turns his attention to triathlons.
Versus will broadcast highlights of the Tour Down Under at 5 p.m. (ET) / 2 p.m. (PT) on Sunday.