Poised on the same time as the Spaniard heading into Sunday's stage, a 90 kilometre criterium in the heart of Adelaide, Simon Gerrans needed only to finish ahead of his challenger in a bunch sprint and nullify any raids on sprint bonuses to secure victory. The pair again finished the day equal on time.
Gerrans standing in ochre was another box ticked, with the WorldTour neophytes’ two biggest season goals coming in their first month of racing – the 31-year-old had claimed the national road title before heading to Adelaide.
Gerrans, a stage winner in all three Grand Tours, said that he had planned his assault on the Australian summer upon signing with GreenEdge for their inaugural season.
"I knew it was going to be so important for the team to start out in good shape and get some results on the board really early," he explained. "So I made it a target of mine to win the Australian Championships and the Tour Down Under. I've ticked those boxes so it really is a dream start to the season."
The day started with criticism from Sky's directeur sportif Sean Yates, who labelled the GreenEdge team's performance at the Tour Down Under as below par, and questioned the seriousness of the outfit's preparation for the event, while admitting that Gerrans was an exception.
Gerrans later admitted that he hadn't read the piece published by Fairfax. Meanwhile, the team's veteran sprinter Robbie McEwen was rallying the troops for their day in the sun.
"I just told them how grateful I was to be a part of it with them and how much I was looking...
With so many of the world’s top sprinters on show in Australia, including Alessandro Petacchi, Mark Renshaw, Matt Goss and Oscar Freire, it was always going to be tough for a plucky escapee like Cameron Meyer to stay clear of the baying peloton.
Adding to the intrigue of the final day was the tense battle for the ochre jersey of race winner, with Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge) entering the stage in the lead but locked on the same time as the threatening Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
In the event, Gerrans and GreenEdge successfully marked the controversial Spaniard to seal overall victory, while André Greipel roared to the stage win. In doing so, the German showed once again that he is a step ahead of the rest of the sprinting fraternity at this early juncture in the season.
Mark Gunter was on hand to record an eventful day’s racing for posterity and you can see his fine gallery of pictures here.
With Alejandro Valverde level on time with Gerrans entering the stage, Anderson admitted that he was surprised that Movistar made no discernible effort to challenge for the overall victory. “I can’t believe they just sort of rolled over like that,” he said.
While Anderson hailed Gerrans’ victory, he pointed out that the nascent GreenEdge team still has lessons to learn. “Seeing Simon isolated on that circuit at the end [of stage 5] was a very dangerous situation and if that was my team, I would have been pretty upset about that,” he said, but acknowledged that GreenEdge had achieved its goal: “It’s what they came here for and what all of Australia wanted.”
In this video, Anderson also discusses André Greipel’s third stage victory of the week and casts an eye over the two Australian fast men at Rabobank, Mark Renshaw and Michael Matthews. “It would be good to see Mark Renshaw given a good solid lead-out team,” he noted. “He’s someone who’s earned his dues.”
Experience the world’s most iconic cycling events riding alongside one of cycling’s true legends, Phil Anderson. Phil and his team lead a suite of cycling tours to the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, la Vuelta, and more. To find out more visit
Spaniard arrives in Argentina for Tour de San Luis
Currently in Argentina ahead of the Tour de San Luis, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) has hailed Alejandro Valverde’s winning return to the peloton after suspension for his implication in Operacion Puerto.
“I’m really glad for him,” Contador told Marca. “He’s a star and that’s the first of many wins he’ll get this year.”
The previous day, Oscar Freire (Katusha) had taken stage victory at the Tour Down Under, marking a strong start to the season from Spanish riders. “They both have incredible quality,” Contador said.
For his part, Contador is still awaiting a final verdict from the Court of Arbitration of Sport on his positive test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France. Although controversially cleared to race by the Spanish Federation in February of last year, the UCI and WADA appealed the matter to CAS.
After a series of postponements, the hearing finally took place in late November, but the verdict – which was initially anticipated in early January – is now expected at the end of the month.
In the meantime, Contador is free to race at the Tour...
Fabio Felline found a home at Androni-Venezuela for 2012 following the collapse of the Geox-TMC squad at the end of last season, and the youngster is targeting Giro d’Italia stage success at his new team.
“A lot of teams offered me interesting possibilities, and I opted for the solution best adapted to me. I can really break through at Androni,” Felline told Tuttosport.
A promising all-rounder with a rapid finish, Felline had eyes on making an impact at Milan-San Remo, but was left disappointed when Androni-Venezuela failed to secure an invitation for La Classicissima.
“It’s a real pity, because it’s still the Classic of my dreams even if in the past couple of seasons, I’ve never had important results early on,” he said. “But it means that I’ll save energy to ride a great Giro d’Italia.”
Still only 21 years of age, Felline made his grand tour debut at the 2010 Tour de France, and is now set to take his Giro bow in May after Gianni Savio’s squad secured a wildcard berth. The precocious Felline is certainly not lacking in confidence.
“I want to win at least one stage,” he said. “There are lots of stages suited to me in the Giro, I’m a complete rider.”
Felline has also set himself the target of forcing his way into Paolo Bettini’s plans for the 2012 Olympics road race, even if he acknowledged that competition will be fierce for the five places on the Italian team.
“Getting a place is going to be really hard, but not impossible. The road race will take place on...
Two of Japan's most talented professional riders based themselves in Thoeng, Chiang Rai, Thailand, at the tail-end of 2011 as they prepared for the season. Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar) and Saxo Bank's newest recruit Takashi Miyazawa used the warm weather to build up their training miles, with Takashi Miyazawa using them to good effect at the recent Tour Down Under.
Here, Japanese photographer Sonoko Tanaka showcases her images from the camp - from local cuisine, sprint training and life of an international pro rider on the road.
Former World Cup champion Emma Johansson (Hitec Products - Mistral Home Cycling Team) is recovering from a double surgery to repair two broken collarbones she sustained in a collision with a car earlier this month.
The Swedish champion was training on Gran Canaria on January 14 when an oncoming car attempting to pass traffic pulled into her path.
Following the incident, Johansson traveled to Herentals in Belgium to consult with a specialist, who decided to perform the surgery on January 19.
Because her training was impacted, the 28-year-old may not be able to repeat her victory in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on February 25.
"It was a scary crash and I was close to a frontal collision with the car. Two broken collarbones was not the worst thing that could happen, and I'm happy to still be alive," Johansson said in a press release. "The operation was the best thing I could have done. My progression after I came out of the hospital has been very quick. Now I do almost everything myself and I look forward to get back on my bike again. I will start roller training tomorrow or Tuesday."
While her first race was scheduled to be the Het Nieuwsblad, Johansson is not not sure when she will return to competition. "I need to get my training done so I have the base and ground of training who can keep me going the whole year. What I'm sure of is that I will be in shape for Ronde van Vlaanderen."
Last year, Johansson was one step off the podium in fourth at the Tour of Flanders. After claiming victory in the Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen and podiums at the Iurreta-Emakumeen Bira, Giro del Trentino Alto Adige - Südtirol and Profile Ladies Tour, Johansson was the UCI's second-ranked rider behind Marianne Vos in the 2011 season. She was third overall in the 2011 World Cup.
Gerrans leads runner-up Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) by 19 points, with fellow podium finisher Tiago Machado (RadioShack-Nissan) in third, 15 further points back.
Thanks to the presence of both Machado and Jan Bakelants in the top five on general classification, the RadioShack-Nissan team kicked off the season at the top of the team rankings.
The Luxembourg squad leads Movistar by 7 points, with GreenEdge one point behind.
Strong performances by the home riders, who placed five riders in the points - Gerrans, Sky's Michael Rogers, Rabobank's Michael Matthews and Mark Renshaw and GreenEdge's Robbie McEwen - put Australia atop the nations rankings ahead of Spain and Portugal.
The WorldTour now takes a six-week hiatus before resuming at Paris-Nice on March 4.