The German sprinter led home the Omega Pharma QuickStep duo of Mark Renshaw and Andrew Fenn to take his 16th Tour Down Under stage win of his career.
"It was really good teamwork today. I actually didn't need to do anything until the last two hundred meters, the guys took care of the rest. It was pretty hard to stay together on the circuit. Adam Hansen had a puncture in the last lap so we had to wait as long as possible to move to the front. Marcel Sieberg took the responsibility then to set up the lead-out train with 1,2 kilometers to go, that was the right decision. We had a lot of horsepower in the final kilometre,” Greipel said at the finish.
“I'm really happy with this second victory, it gives confidence. Staying healthy is the main goal, the rest will come. I'm super happy with my teammates, everybody had his part in the victory. This was a successful Tour Down Under for us. We have Hansen in the top ten and he also took the mountain jersey, so it has been a nice week. It's a strength of this team that we all help each other, that's what counts."
Simon Gerrans safely finished in the peloton, winning his third Tour Down Under title. For full results, photos and the race report, click here.
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Lampre-Merida rider delighted with third place Down Under
On the start line of the final stage of the Santos Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Diego Ulissi revealed he wouldn’t battle for time bonus to challenge Simon Gerrans’ lead, even though he was only five seconds down on GC.
“I’ll ride in a quiet way”, he told Cyclingnews. “I’m happy where I stand. I’m racing to keep my third place overall.”
So it was mission accomplished at the finish with the Italian holding his place.
“It’s been a difficult stage for me with the heat, the tension of riding for GC, and some dangerous riders in the bunch… It’s normal because we were just a few seconds apart but I managed to remain close to the front with my team. Third in the Santos Tour Down Under is a better result than I expected before coming here. I’m delighted.”
Questioned before the race as to whether he was ready to resume racing in 2014 in the same way he concluded his 2013 season [a winner of Milan-Turin, Coppa Sabatini and Giro dell’Emilia in October], he looked very skeptical about it.
“I didn’t expect to race at the front so early this year”, Ulissi said. “But the Santos Tour Down Under is an important race as it allocates a lot of WorldTour points, which is good for me and for my team. This is a very important season for me. My physique is getting better, so it’s a confidence booster to start with a third place overall and moreover the great victory I claimed on stage 2 in a beautiful way.”
“I want to be on top form at Tirreno-Adriatico and keep the momentum for Milan-San Remo,” the 24-year-old continued. “My second goal will be the Ardennes classics. There, I’ll have to compete against the world’s best riders. That’s why it’s...
Koen De Kort went some way to spare Giant-Shimano’s blushes at the Tour Down Under, picking up fourth on the final stage after the team’s sprinter Marcel Kittel lost ground in the finale.
Kittel came into the Tour Down Under with his confidence high after winning his first race of the season in the People’s Choice Classic. The preamble to the Tour Down Under saw the Giant-Shimano sprinter hold off André Greipel for the win, but Kittel was found wanting in the two main bunch sprints during the first WorldTour race of the season. He vowed to return to wining ways in the near future.
"As a team we win and lose together, unfortunately today we lost. Next time we will do it better," Kittel said.
De Kort, who typically forms part of Kittel’s successful leadout train quickly spotted that his leader had been boxed in on Sunday’s final stage in Adelaide and reacted quickly by latching onto the leading riders. He was unable to compete with winner André Greipel and finished behind the German and the Omega Pharma QuickStep duo of Mark Renshaw and Andrew Fenn.
"The plan was to set Marcel up for the finish today but he got swamped towards the end and was unable to make up the ground. Koen did well to react and make the most of his good positioning to sprint to fourth place," said Giant-Shimano’s Addy Engels.
Simon Geschke was the highest placed Team Giant-Shimano rider overall, in 24th.
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Italian avoids serious injury, Appollonio and Teruel break bones
While the professional teams from Europe and North America are drawn to Argentina's Tour de San Luis as a perfect way to ease into the race season due to the warm weather and challenging parcours, they're not immune from the dangers of road racing and the risk riders take each time they pin on a number.
As the peloton was speeding towards the base of the decisive finishing climb to Mirador del Sol late in Saturday's sixth stage, a crash involving approximately 20-30 riders occurred, with Vincenzo Nibali among the most prominent riders to fall. The 29-year-old Italian, whose primary goal for the 2014 season is the Tour de France, escaped relatively unscathed after initial reports suggested he may have broken ribs. Nibali's teammate Michele Scarponi stated the crash was caused when "somebody got distracted".
The Astana team stated "Nibali confirms pain and soreness in his rib, it hurts when he laughs or breathes deeply" but confirmed he was otherwise fine and would start the final stage on Sunday. Nibali's teammates Mikel Landa and Fredrik Kessiakoff also crashed, with Landa requiring two new wheels and a 80km/hr motorpace back to the peloton, but all finished with nothing more than bruises and road rash.
AG2R La Mondiale's Davide Appollonio's start to the season, however, was marred in the crash by a broken bone. "Davide Appollonio suffers, according to preliminary examinations, a broken collarbone," read a statement from the team. A more extensive diagnosis will be made once he returns to Italy and the extent of his recovery time will then be determined by the team's medical staff.
Luca Paolini (Katusha) was the other WorldTour rider who was involved in the late-race crash and abandoned, but the Italian's DNF was not due to an injury. "Paolini was in the crash. He was injured (bruises) but could...
American bruised and battered, will start final stage
Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) was hit by a team car from Argentinian Continental team Buenos Aires Provincia while riding in the caravan during the penultimate sixth stage at the Tour de San Luis. The 29-year-old American, however, was able to finish the stage to the mountain finish of Mirador del Sol.
"Tyler has abrasions on his hip, arm, leg, and knuckles," Garmin-Sharp team director Chann McRae told Cyclingnews. "Additionally, he has some bruised ribs. He plans on racing today."
The Buenos Aires Provincia team director received a fine by the UCI commissaires regarding a breach of regulations regarding the movement of vehicles in a race.
The incident prompted comment from fellow WorldTour riders competing in the 2.1-rated event in Argentina, including compatriot Taylor Phinney (BMC).
"Team Buenos Aires Provincia: one rider punches Dehaes in sprint on St 3, and today their team car runs over Tyler Farrar in the convoy. #wtf," Phinney wrote on Twitter.
"Tyler w/a lot of road rash and maybe some broken ribs. Add this to local GC riders getting pushes from motos/cars on climbs... #BS #SanLuis." added Phinney.
Lotto Belisol's Kenny De Haes was punched and sustained a black eye after an incident on stage 3.
Other WorldTour riders, including Phil Gaimon (Garmin-Sharp), also mentioned an incident of riders receiving tows in climbs. "Reports of GC riders hanging onto motos on the last climb today. Worse than doping," said Gaimon via Twitter, who fought hard to defend his second place GC position behind race leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar) on the Mirador del Sol mountain finish.
The Tour de San Luis concludes today with a 148.1km stage starting in San Luis and finishing at Terrazas del Portezuelo.
The 26-year-old moved from Garmin-Sharp to BMC into the winter, leaving behind the roots and ties to a team he had been part of since 2006 and the TIAA-CREF formation.
At the start of the final stage in San Luis, a relative certainty to end in a bunch sprint, Stetina took time out to talk with Cyclingnews’ Peter Hymas about the race and his goals for the season.
After San Luis, Stetina will return to his base in Europe and race alongside team captain Tejay van Garderen in Paris-Nice and the Volta a Cataluyna. The specialist climber will then return to the US where he will lead BMC’s charge into the Amgen Tour of California. It’s a role that Stetina is ready to grasp with both hands, having had to work at the services of others so often.
Whatever the result come May Stetina’s season will then turn towards his major objective as he aims to make BMC’s team for the Tour de France. The team are set to fall behind van Garderen, with Cadel Evans competing at the Giro d’Italia. In this exclusive video Stetina talks about his race in San Luis, the months ahead and his aspirations for the Tour de France in July.
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Advocates for clean cycling, Bike Pure, have presented their UK women’s development team for the 2014 season. Known as Bike Pure - LeMond - Aspire Velotech, with Greg LeMond adding his support to the team, the squad will race within the British Cycling calendar, with Karl Nielsen the European Lead for Bike Pure, their manager.
The team will be racing in the National Road Race calendar, the Team Series and National Track events, as well as cyclo-cross during the winter.
“This is an exciting project not only for the girls but for myself too. Bike Pure is passionate about rider development and women’s cycling, and this is a great opportunity to try new methods of development.
“Development of riders needs to be both on and off the bike. Our junior women have to juggle their educational aspirations as well as their cycling ones, and add to the mix a quality family and social life, these next two years are busy and fundamental to their futures,” Nielsen said.
Bike Pure aim to promote sporting ethics and clean cycling.
Co-Founder of Bike Pure, Andy Layhe said, "We are about to embark on an historic journey with our first venture into team cycling. With the valued support of our main sponsors LeMond Revolution and Aspire Velotech along with Bike Science UK, The Sufferfest, Sukkie Hydration, DeFeet and Lazer Helmets we hope to bring something new and exciting to the UK race scene."
"We feel it's very important we support grass roots cycling, notably women’s cycling and development whilst at the same time promoting sporting integrity at events up and down the UK. Our talented young riders will act as role models for Bike Pure and cycling fans up and down the country. Cycling has become very popular in the UK and this gives us a great opportunity to bring Bike Pure's message closer to the masses."
Tim de Waele images from the Australian WorldTour race
The WorldTour kicked off last week with the 2014 Santos Tour Down Under in Australia, and saw Simon Gerrans clinch a record setting third title.
It was one of the most exciting editions of the race in recent years with Gerrans going toe-to-toe with Cadel Evans (BMC), Richie Porte (Team Sky) and Diego Ulissi (Lampre Merida) in race that would come down to a mere few seconds.
All four of the top GC riders won individual stages along with Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) winning twice and throughout the event Tim de Waele was on hand to take photos from every action point in the race. For his complete race highlights gallery, click here.