by Andrew Dent
ADELAIDE, Australia, Jan 22, 2013 (AFP) – Two-time champion Andre Greipel
launched a devastating sprint with 300 metres to go to easily win the opening
stage of the WorldTour season-opening Tour Down Under on Tuesday.
Greipel powered home by a bike length from Frenchman Arnaud Demare and Mark
Renshaw of Australia and claim a record-equalling 12th stage win at the Tour
The big German won the 135km stage from Prospect to the Adelaide Hills town
of Lobethal in 3hr 35min 24sec to move equal with Australia’s Robbie McEwen
for the most stage wins.
As in the prologue on Sunday, Greipel’s win was set up by the dominant
performance of his Lotto Berisol team, which took control a kilometre from the
finish to give their team leader the perfect launch pad.
“The guys made it look easy for me,” Greipel said. “They kept me out of the
wind. It was really hard for them, I know, but I trust these guys — I know
they are really strong and we did it again.
“It’s a good thing to do, to win the first WorldTour race.”
Greipel said he had been feeling strong as the race reached its final
“I just had some power left. I looked to the back and saw the guys had done
a really fast lead out and the bunch was strung out,” he said.
“I looked over my shoulder and I thought they were going to start the
sprint any time now, so I just kicked.”
The race began in near-perfect conditions in Adelaide’s northern suburbs,
with local team UniSA’s Jordan Kerby breaking away immediately in a group of
three, which was quickly gathered in by the peloton.
But Kerby, 20, attacked again and pulled away, opening a gap of seven
minutes after 16 kilometres.
“It could have been a bit of nerves, I was a bit excited getting into my
first WorldTour race,” Kerby said.
“UniSA always try and be a bit aggressive and I thought ‘Why not?'”
The peloton were never concerned by a lone rider out front and slowly began
to reel him in, but not before Kerby had claimed the King of the Mountains
points and two of the first three sprints.
With 36 kilometres to go, Frenchman Jerome Pineau from Omega
Pharma-Quick-Step broke away from the peloton and went straight past Kerby,
who dropped back to the main group.
They were all back together with 15 kilometres to go, with the race set up
perfectly for the sprinters.
Movistar’s Jose Rojas Gil tried to break up the field when he launched an
attack on the last climb with eight kilometres to go, but his move was
countered by Lotto Berisol and Sky Procycling.
Sky Procycling pushed to the front to try and set the race up for their
sprinter, Edvald Boasson Hagen. But with just over a kilometre to go Lotto
Berisol made their move, sweeping to the lead with a decisive attack.
Demare finished strongly, but conceded he was never going to catch Greipel.
“I should have gone earlier, but even if I had I think I was only going to
finish on his wheel,” he said.
Wednesday’s second stage is a 116.5km journey from Mt Barker to Rostrevor
and takes in the tour’s newest climb, the Corkscrew.
Tour Down Under Stage 1 results
ADELAIDE, Australia, Jan 22, 2013 (AFP) – Results from the 135km first
stage of the UCI WorldTour Tour Down Under from Prospect to Adelaide on
1. Andre Greipel (GER/LTB) 3hr 35min 24 sec, 2. Arnaud Demare (FRA/FDJ)
same time, 3. Mark Renshaw (AUS/BLA) s.t., 4. Simone Ponzi (ITA/AST) s.t., 5.
Steele Von Hoff (AUS/GRS) s.t., 6. Roberto Ferrari (ITA/LAM) s.t., 7. Daniele
Pietropolli (ITA/LAM) s.t., 8. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR/SKY), s.t., 9. Jose
Joaquin Rojas Gil (ESP/MOV) s.t., 10. Zak Dempster (AUS/UNI) s.t.
33. Simon Gerrans (AUS/OGE) s.t., 45. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/BMC) s.t., 105.
Andy Schleck (LUX/RLT) at 1min 19sec
1. Andre Greipel (GER/LTB) 3hr 35min 24 sec, 2. Arnaud Demare (FRA/FDJ) at
04 seconds, 3. Mark Renshaw (AUS/BLA) 6, 4. Simon Gerrans (AUS/OGE) 7, 5.
Philippe Gilbert (BEL/BMC) s.t., 6. Jerome Pineau (FRA/OPQ) 8, 7. Thomas De
Gendt (BEL/VCD) s.t., 8. Simone Ponzi (ITA/AST) 9, 9. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil
(ESP/MOV) s.t., 10. Steele Von Hoff (AUS/GRS) 10
105. Andy Schleck (LUX/RLT) at 1min 29 sec