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Welcome to Cyclingnews live coverage of the first stage of the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under. After an excitement filled Down Under Classic on Sunday night that saw Andre Greipel gain a confidence boosting victory of Edvald Boasson Hagen we hit the road today for a 149 kilometre run from Prospect to Clare. It will be Prospect's first time hosting a stage start so we expect a healthy crowd at that stage start.
We're just about to get underway from Prospect. Stage start has been slightly delayed.
We're underway. It's an extremely hot day in South Australia today. Lucky for me, I'm in the aic conditioned confines of the media centre. No help for the riders though.
We're still in the neutral zone, before the official racing gets underway. Still about a kilometre of neutral racing to go.
Jane Aubrey was on hand at the stage start earlier this morning. She spoke to Matthew Goss (GreenEdge).
Goss - "I think the heat today will really favour the Aussies. This is our own home advantage."
Out of the neutral zone and racing!
Tour Down Under Classic winner Andre Greipel also had some interesting thoughts.
"The conditions are the same for everyone. The criterium for us means nothing, from today it all count."
UniSA rider Steele Von Hoff hopes that things will be pretty selective with the heat and cross winds.
"I misjudged it on Sunday, I just didn't have the legs in the end but there a bit better today. Hopefully we can work a bit more as a team in our second race.
Von Hoff was 5th on Sunday, someone to look out for.
3 riders off the front 183, 154, 5.
So that's Goss, Dennis and Pavarin. Still need confirmation whether it's definetely Goss.
The break has 30 seconds on the bunch. Peloton is strung out, doesn't seem they're totally happy with the Goss in the break.
It's not Goss, we've been misled.
The break is:
Rohan Dennis (Team UniSA-Australia)
Marcello Pavarin (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)
Martin Kohler (BMC Racing Team)
Eduard Vorganov (Katusha Team)
"I’ve been told that the finish in Clare is quite similar to the one at Malaga where I beat Cavendish in stage 2 of the Vuelta in 2010, so I’ll give it a go if I can. I arrived in Adelaide a bit late and I had a stomach bug the first night but I’m fine now. I’ve had a very good night of sleep before starting today."
Rohan Dennis in the break is a rider with a big future ahead of him. He won both national titles, road and time trial, in the under 23 category a week ago in Ballarat.
Frederic Guesdon (FDJ-BigMat) said he was surprised at just how windy things are today.
"I don't think it'll make it any worse than Qatar though," he joked.
The break of 4 riders meanwhile are out to more than 2 minutes. This looks like it may be the break of the day.
A lot of people have been talking about how the first day of the Tour can be a funny one. Many riders will be unsure of their form, then there is the heat and win.
It will be interesting to see whether any one team takes control. A sure sign of their confidence in their sprinter.
2011 winner Cameron Meyer previewed today's stage for us, and seemed certain we'd see a bunch kick today:
My pick for this one is that it will definitely be a sprint finish. I don't think there'll be much to do for the climbers who think they can win the Tour, I think they'll stay quiet.
The break has moved out to more than 6 minutes now. Peloton is happy riding steadily behind. Lotto-Belisol are setting false tempo for de facto leader Andre Greipel at the front.
Steegmans (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) punctured. Getting a spare wheel.
Time gap according to the race commisaires is now 10:20. Lots of leeway.
Let's go through the guys in the break.
Marcello Pavarin is a rider without a single win to his name. This is his second season with Vacansoleil. He's 25 years old and is a reasonably good climber. We'll see if he has his eye on the day's only KOM.
Contrast that with Eduard Vorganov. He's riding his 10th year in the professional peloton. This is his third time riding the Tour Down Under, and came seventh in the points classification in 2010.
Big news: The peloton has split in the cross winds. Some 30 riders now ahead of the main bunch. Around a 100 metre gap.
Meyer is caught behind in the second group.
Romain Feillu has crashed, just as the peloton re-groups.
Gap has come back a little bit after this split.
Feillu back up and riding. Liquigas riding at the front now. Looking to split things up again?
Robbie McEwen is riding a cool 270 Watts in the main bunch. Maybe we'll see that spike up to over a thousand at the finish.
Just to address some of the twitter feed. The time bonuses on offer are 3, 2, 1 at both sprints, and 10, 6, 4 at the finish.
Considering how close the GC almost always ends up the value of these bonifications cannot be underestimated.
Jens Voigt spoke to us at the stage finish, and like Cameron Meyer said that there was no chance of a break staying away:
“There’s 0 chance for a breakaway to succeed today. It’s windy but after the crosswind, there’ll be head wind, breakaway riders will die there. The peloton is smart enough to not let a group of 20 go up the road, because it’s a World Tour race, it’s going to be a bunch sprint today, 100 per cent.”
Rohan Dennis (UniSA Australia) putting out 330 Watts on average in the break. They're on a gradual uphill now. The key difficulty on these roads though is the quality of the bitumen. On a hot day it can become really sticky, and don't be surprised to see a few crashes as a result.
Break has gone back out to 11:10.
Back to the break, the final rider is Martin Kohler from the American BMC team. Martin is the reigning Swiss time trial champion after picking up the win Pfauffnau in June of last year. He'll be taking the pressure off Greg Van Avermaet and the team back in the main field.
Seems that Lachlan Norris (UniSA-Australia) might be struggling. He's gone back to the team car.
38 kilometres gone and we're starting the gentle climbing now. From Roseworthy (km 45) onward the course becomes really up and down. It'll test the legs of some of the Euros who aren't quite in shape.
Rojas has gone back to the team car for an early feed and a talk with the team boss.
Norris normally rides for the Drapac cycling team. Jonathan Breekveldt told me at nationals that the young mountain biker wasn't riding there due to a leg injury to make himself in the best possible shape for TDU. Perhaps still not recovered?
A great question.
Why doesn't the Hahn Superdry car hand out beer? #tdu #parade
@bethanykeats Tue, 17th Jan 2012 02:10:54
Really not too much happening at the moment. The gap has once again stabilised around the 11 minute mark. Dennis and Kohler doing plenty of work on the front. Still around 30 kilometres till the first intermediate sprint.
So guys at this point might be a good time to ask who you believe will take today's stage?
Andre Greipel is clearly in form, but the names at this year's race reads like a Tour de France.
Petacchi, Freire, Boasson Hagen, Bennati, Goss. No shortage of fast men in Adelaide this year.
I have a feeling that Greipel gets it done today #cyclingnewstdu
@jobilli85 Tue, 17th Jan 2012 02:22:36
Bunch sprint ? Robbie McEwen or Matt Goss I hope #cyclingnewstdu
@Gazman_57 Tue, 17th Jan 2012 02:24:14
Personally I'm on Rabobank rider Mark Renshaw. I saw him at nationals - he's looking fierce. Just a bit of bad luck on Sunday.
Surprises do happen. The chase won't be as easy as they think with the cross wind and if they go too fast there will be echelons. They really can't afford the break to go much beyond 11-12 minutes on a day like today.
#cyclingnewstdu is there any feeling the break could stay away with their 11 minute lead and 40 degree heat?
@jxpphotography Tue, 17th Jan 2012 02:30:15
That's a factor of the wind more than anything else. It's a strong Northerly with a little bit of West in it from the Ocean. It's tough going out there. 42 degrees celsius, ouch!
Slowest stage ever in the #TDU.. running 45mins behind schedule already..
@edbud68 Tue, 17th Jan 2012 02:30:18
Just another race update. The break of four remains out in front at over 11 minutes.
The domestiques are going back to team cars on very regular basis. One of the Vacansoleil riders has gone back to get bottles three times in the last 15 minutes.
Not surprising - no bias there! For those that don't know Steele made his name with Genesys last year on the NRS.
We are all betting on Steele Von Hoff. If Uni Sa can support him he's in with a chance #cyclingnewstdu
@GenesysCycling Tue, 17th Jan 2012 02:35:49
Less than 20 kilometres to go now till the opening sprint at Kapunda. Riders are going flat out but are going no faster than 42-43 km/h.
Greipel has flatted, teammates immediately going back to help him.
Matthews is 100 per cent for Renshaw at the Tour Down Under. The team and both riders have said so - unless something happens to Renshaw I expect Matthews will be leading him out.
#cyclingnewstdu do you think renshaw or matthews is rabobank's best bet for today?
@dpase Tue, 17th Jan 2012 02:45:04
Greipel rejoins the peloton. Well looked after by Adam Hansen. The two are good friends off the bike - Greipel insisted on having Hansen with the team last year.
Movistar and BMC back at the team cars for feeding. The official feed zone is at Kapunda, but with the heat I think race officials are allowing a little leeway.
Gatis Smukulis (Katusha) is at the medical car. Heat stroke?
This is the importance of drinking as much as the riders will need to be doing today.
Martin Kohler (BMC) takes the opening sprint. The kilometre count the race organisation is giving is wrong. Sorry about that!
Still waiting on the names of the other two places.
KOM also coming up.
The break's gap has gone down to 9 minutes.
Simply no information yet on the final two places.
KOM is 2 kilometres away.
Official results for sprint
Pavarin makes a little dig and gets the KOM points. He's got a 150m gap.
The other three riders led by Kohler with Vorganov third.
So just a recap there -
1. Marcello Pavarin (Vacansoliel-DCM)
2. Martin Kohler (BMC)
3. Eduard Vorganov (Katusha)
No time bonuses for the KOM.
The group of four has now reformed.
Pavarin saw the better part of valor.
Break goes over the rail crossing at Main North Rd. No sign of any trains luckily!
GreenEdge looking prevalent at the front of the bunch as the peloton crest the KOM.
No one team seems to be chasing yet though. Happy to let the break remain out in front.
Ok let's get on to today's Cyclingnews trivia question!
Last I heard it was 9:30.
#CyclingnewsTDU any word on the gap time at the moment?
@opqscyclingteam Tue, 17th Jan 2012 03:26:58
Ok so today's question -
"Who won the first young rider classification at the inaugural Tour Down Under?"
Answer with the hashtag #cyclingnewstdu. Winner be selected at random and awarded some brand spanking new Bont shoes.
Coming up to the third KOM. Break still looking really good at the front.
Matt White speaking from the team car to ABC national radio. Says it's the toughest opening stage he's seen in a long time.
White adds that Durbridge was okay for the start today, they have him on the front working for the team. Not getting a lot of help though.
Keep the answers coming guys - a lot of you are on the money, winner will be selected at random.
An easy one to start us off!
The gap is coming down. Chase is starting to get organised from a few teams. Lots of teams still happy to let GreenEdge do the work.
Interestingly Cameron Meyer is the man directly behind Durbridge. Keeping out of trouble or is he being put to work? A sign that Gerrans is their man?
Will be taking answers until the stage finish. Winner will be contacted afterwards. But don't worry, one pair to give away everyday!
Pat Jonker at the finish line says he thinks the break may well stay away to the finish. He says the gap could be too big to totally bring back in the final 45 kilometres. Jonker won the race in 2004 in a very similar situation. Be interesting to see how this plays out.
Back then it was Dave McPartland, now GreenEdge-AIS women's team manager who won the stage.
Closing on this final sprint point for the day. (I think I said it was a KOM before - it's not)
Time bonuses again on offer. Even if the break gets caught these will be important.
Clouds coming over at the stage finish. Seems like a cool change could be expected later in the day.
Temperature dropping to a much more cooling "34".
Reports the gap is down further to just over 6 minutes.
Fatigue setting in in the break. Gap down to less than 5 minutes.
We've gone through the final intermediate sprint but no word on the places.
Sky reported to be ramping up the pace in the main field.
Official race radio - 4 minute gap.
So with a sprint now seemingly looming perhaps it's worth hearing Petacchi's thoughts.
The Lampre-ISD riders said:
“I’m used to win my first race of the year but it’s different here than in Europe. There are many strong teams and many sprinters in contention. Sunday’s criterium was a special one. Technically it was difficult. We have young riders in the team. We’ve spoken about the lead out and we hope for an improvement today. I’ll always try and win.”
Gap still falling. The peloton can see the break ahead of them now.
Henderson crashed. However has got back up and rejoined.
Bad news for Greipel.
Really fast clip at the moment from the peloton.
Should be refreshing automatically. Just sketchy reception from race radio at the moment.
If we all press the refresh button at #cyclingnewstdu at the same time - do you think it will work?
@TeamUniSA Tue, 17th Jan 2012 04:32:51
The break's once 11:40 lead is now within in two minutes.
This is defintely going to be a sprint. Break looks shattered.
Might be worth saving the legs - if they have any energy left - to see if they can hang on to the main field when they get caught.
For those wanting to know how the final 10 kilometres look. It's a fairly straight forward lead into town, mostly downhill.
Rohan Dennis has left the breakaway. He's flying. More than a minute of his companions we're hearing!
Seems GreenEdge are leading the peloton. No love lost between an Australian team and an Australian rider out front it seems.
Leaders have gone through watervale less than 15 k to go. Break still ahead of main bunch. Dennis still solo. Remember he can time trial.
Dennis just needs to keep concentrating. He's right on the rivet. It's a downhill run as I already mentioned but I'm sure he'd like less of a block headwind.
Recap - Kohler won both sprints of the day. That gives him a useful six seconds.
Dennis has less than 30 seconds, the rest of the break has been swallowed up.
Can he hang on? It'll be tight.
Dennis may just have been caught. Will confirm shortly.
Dennis' day is over, he's in the bunch.
There is one final little rise to come for someone to go for a solo bid for the stage, but I expect it's now going to be a sprint.
Sky, Lotto-Belisol don't want to commit to setting up their trains just yet. Are both represent at the front.
Not long now, bunch strung out. As with Sunday Rabobank, Sky, Lotto-Belisol, Lampre-ISD fighting for control.
Will Clarke (UniSA) is having a go on the rise I mentioned.
Will is in some career best form. Had a great national championships.
15 second gap immediately.
Clarke gets re-absorbed.
This is it. We can hear the sirens at the race finish as the convoy leads their way through.
Greipel it is!
Petacchi second, Sabatini third..
Could be Petacchi or Greipel. We'll have to wait.
It is Greipel. Official.
Thanks for joining us today. See you tomorrow for stage 2.