By Susan Westemeyer
Team Rabobank did everything it could to control the Classic Down Under Sunday evening in Glenelg, Australia, in order to set up a win for Australian sprinter Graeme Brown, only to see it all fall apart on the final corner. Brown ended up finishing 17th, while his lead-out man Mat Hayman was eighth. The victory went to Team High Road's André Greipel.
It failed "because of a miscalculation by the Rabo-tandem Brown-Hayman," according to the team's website. "I do not know who committed that mistake, but they let themselves get pushed to the side in the final corner, which then forced them to hit the brakes," said directeur sportif Erik Dekker.
But neither Dekker nor Brown was really disappointed with the race. "The guys did very well," Dekker said, pointing to first Bram de Groot's long attack and then the way the team dominated the race. "We basically rode a seven-man time trial. It is a very promising sign for next week." The Tour Down Under starts on Tuesday.
"Maybe it was a little bit too much (effort), but it was also a good hitout for the week," Brown told Australian newspaper The Age. "The guys weren't overly concerned about it, the result wasn't as good as we would expect, but it's better to make mistakes yesterday than tomorrow. We tried to take control of the race, it didn't work out, sprints are always a bit different."
It is Brown's first Tour Down Under since 2005, and he is happy to be back. "It's ProTour, so it means a lot, and it means a lot to me mainly because it's in Australia," he said. "I'd race this Tour Down Under just as hard if it was ProTour or not a ProTour race."
Brown had only one complaint, and one in which the European riders surely won't join him. "Now it's a bit 'cool' (27° Celsius), I'd like it 10° warmer," he noted. "That makes it really hard, especially for the Euros - for Willunga (on the second-last day) I hope it's 45°, it might slow them down a little bit."