Australian Simon Gerrans (AG2R - Prevoyance) won the opening road stage of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under yesterday afternoon after he and three of the races strongest riders escaped from the already-split peloton with 50km to go. Gerrans, defending champion Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Liberty Seguros - Wurth), Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) and William Walker (United Water - Australia U23) broke away from a 29-rider lead group that already had 15 minutes' advantage over the rest of the field.
The quartet joined forces and as the finish approached they had built up a margin of two to 12 minutes over the splintered chasers. Knowing he probably couldn't take McEwen in a head-to-head sprint finish, Gerrans cannily attacked with five kilometres to go and stayed away till the line.
Surviving what he called "the longest five k's I've ever ridden" brought compensation for Gerrans after a crash in last Saturday's Australian Open Road Championships.
"I was disappointed with how I went at the nationals, so to come up and win today, I was just over the moon," Gerrans said. "It's going to be tough to defend the overall lead for the rest of the week, but I've got a really strong team here. They're a great bunch of guys and I'm sure they'll support me all the way."