The fifth and sixth stages of the Tour Down Under were run yesterday and today respectively, with Australian rider Allan Davis finishing on top in a field full of great riders, that kicks off an interesting year on the pro cycling circuit, to say the least.
Today’s stage win went to Francesco Chicchi of Italy, who edged out Australians Robbie McEwen and Graeme Brown, the second and third place finishers for the final leg. American Lance Armstrong finished 71st today, well back in the pack, but happy with his showing none the less.
For Davis, this was his first TDU win despite being competitive in all the previous events. He also won 3 of the stages, and had built up a 25 second lead over second place finisher Stuart O’Grady, also of Australia.
As for Armstrong, this was meant to be a shake down cruise to test his 37 year old legs. He hadn’t raced competitively in more than three years, but returned to the sport with an eye on winning an eighth Tour de France this summer. Lance ended up finishing well off the lead for the race, in the process he learned that he can still ride with the top cyclists in the world, and that his training is coming along nicely. In fact, he told VeloNews that he may even be a bit ahead of schedule when it comes to his preparation.
All in all, in sounds like Lance greatly enjoyed his time Down Under and had a blast being back in the action. It also sounds like fans were happy to see him back out on the course as well. We’ll get to seem again in a few weeks as he and Team Astana head to the Tour of California, which will also mark the return of Floyd Landis to the sport. Like I said, 2009 should be interesting.