Tour Down Under: Davis Strengthens Lead on Stage Four

James ThompsonCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2009

Current race leader Allan Davis (QuickStep) strengthened his overall lead today with his second stage win of the year. 

On a day with some mountainous terrain, many thought that a breakaway would succeed to the finish line.  Alexander Efimkin (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Andoni Lafuente (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Travis Meyer (UniSA-Australia) thought just that and quickly left the peloton behind, building up a lead of over nine minutes at their maximum. 

However, Robbie McEwen, who must have been feeling better after his stage one run in with a spectator's camera, and his Team Katusha, moved to the front of the field and set the pace to reel back the breakaway half way through the stage. 

Slowly, the lead melted away, and teams QuickStep and Rabobank, housing Allan Davis and Graeme Brown, respectively, who have animated the race, took over the pacing to set it up for a sprint finish.   

In the sprint, race leader Davis came around Brown to take his second stage of the Tour and strengthen his overall lead.  In second place came Brown while Jose Joaquin Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne) came in third and Stuart O'Grady (Saxobank) fourth.

Stage Five tomorrow may very likely shake up the overall classification.  With two laps  up Willunga Mountain (a 3 km climb at 7.5 percent) late in the race, it will be a true test of the riders' early season fitness, and it will be a battle for the sprinters to keep pace. 

Look for select group of riders to make it to the finish line and reorder the race leaderboard.