Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) began his 2016 season with a strong showing the in Down Under Classic on Sunday. The Welshman hit the front in the closing stages of the 51-kilometre race to help set up teammate Ben Swift for the win. Swift crossed the line in fourth place, with Orica-GreenEdge’s man-of-the-moment, Caleb Ewan, taking another impressive victory.
"I was at the front to help Swifty [Ben Swift] and to be safe. We hit the front early, and we knew we were never going to make it from that far out, but Swifty got an easy ride. That first lap was a bit of a shock to the system, but it was a great way to start the season.”
Team Sky have arrived in Australia with a strong team and will be looking to win stages and compete in the overall at the Tour Down Under, which starts officially in on Tuesday.
“The Corkscrew will be the first big test. We'll try to win a stage, get someone up there on GC, and just enjoy some bike racing."
Dimension Data pick up top-10
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg picked up a top-ten place for Dimension Data’s in the Down Under Classic on Sunday. The South African finished sixth in the bunch sprint to the line, while Australia’s Caleb Ewan (Orica GreenEdge) sealed the win.
“We were really having some fun out there today. I managed to win the first prime and then 6th to end off the day. It's good to get the season started and it was great that we could do so with such an enjoyable Criterium,” van Rensburg said of his effort.
The team were active throughout the 51-kilometre race with Jaco Venter and Songezo Jim both covering moves off the front of the peloton. Dimension Data will make their WorldTour debut proper in the Tour Down Under, which starts on Tuesday.
Matt White talk momentum
Orica-GreenEdge picked up an important win with Caleb Ewan adding to his already impressive 2016 tally on Sunday in the Down Under Classic.
The Australian WorldTour team headed into this week’s racing with pressure and expectancy on their shoulders but Matt White, the team’s director, praised Ewan and highlighted the significance of the win in the context of this coming week.
“He's had a few wins already this year, but it's to win against a field like this. It's the same guys he's going race against the rest of the week, so that's great for his confidence. We've got multiple goals for this week, but when you look at the parcours, Caleb will have his options to win, and he's picked one box tonight."
Giant Alpecin move on after Kittel
Last year Giant-Alpecin walked away with the win in the Tour Down Under Classic courtesy of Marcel Kittel. With the German sprinter now at Etixx-QuickStep and John Degenkolb starting his season later this year, the team were reliant on other options for the Adelaide Criterium.
Step forward Koen de Kort, one of the team’s longest-serving riders. The Dutchman is typically a leadout man but has a decent turn of speed. He managed 12th in today’s race, saying that he mistimed his dash for the line.
“I was happy with the chance to be the sprinter today,” he said. “It’s valuable to experience the sprint preparation through the eyes of the last man, the sprinter, in order to develop my role in this process, too.
“I hesitated a little too long during the sprint, but I will take this experience with me towards the next sprint chances.”