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Gerrans set to win fourth Tour Down Under

  • Gerrans set to win fourth Tour Down Under

Simon Gerrans has just about consigned last year's horrors to the dustbin of cycling history.

The Australian star has a 14-second lead over compatriot Jay McCarthy heading into Saturday's Queen stage of the Tour Down Under at Willunga.

Defending champion Rohan Dennis is third overall at 26 seconds and, in the context of Tour tactics, Gerrans' position is just about impregnable.

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It would take the biggest turnaround in the Santos Tour's 18-year history for anyone to deny Gerrans a record fourth title.

Provided Gerrans has retains the overall lead at the Willunga summit finish, he should then have no trouble through Sunday's final stage in Adelaide.

Gerrans set up his overall lead by winning the third and fourth stages - the first back-to-back stage wins at the Tour since Andre Greipel's in 2010.

It was just the turnaround he needed after last year's campaign, including the Tour Down Under, which was cruelled by a series of crashes.

He also crashed at the end of stage two, but had gained time from the intermediate sprints earlier in the day and there was a sense his fortunes might be changing.

Thursday and Friday proved that emphatically.

Dennis and fellow BMC star Richie Porte admit it will be tough to dislodge Gerrans.

Porte has won the last two Willunga stages and probably the team's best hope on Saturday is that one of them at least stops Gerrans from going three in a row.

But they have not given up hope.

One of them has to gain a time bonus by finishing the stage among the leaders and also gap Gerrans.

A massive advantage for Gerrans is that the biggest time bonus on offer is 10 seconds.

"Richie is still within reach as well if he gets the 10 seconds and really opens up on the climb," Dennis said.

"It's team effort or we just go in and we lose it, so whoever is best on the day, doesn't matter if it's me being a leader coming in, it's whoever is best on the day."

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