German Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) has given his Tour Down Under rivals an early warning sign that he means business in 2012, looking almost untouchable in the final sprint to take out the Down Under Classic in Adelaide.
Sky rider Edvald Boasson Hagen opened the sprint after Lotto-Belisol's last lead-out man Greg Henderson swung off but when Greipel put the foot down he seemed to effortlessly sail past the Norwegian - harking back to the way he dominated the 2008, and 2010 tours. Heinrich Haussler completed the top three.
Asked what today’s result was an indication of heading into the first WordTour event of the year, Greipel was frank.
"That we didn’t sleep in the winter," he grinned. "I tried to get a lead out train for this season and we got Greg Henderson in the team.
"I worked with him pretty good in previous seasons so he is a main part in the success of the team for me. But I can't forget Jurgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg and Adam Hansen – they are all really important to keep the train going. I think we’ve shown a pretty good effort today."
"I think the guys were awesome. I just needed to stay on the wheels. I saw Rabobank and Sky - they couldn’t pass so I think that meant we have a lot of horsepower in our team.
"Today takes a bit of pressure off. Especially for the young riders who are in Mallorca at the moment. Hopefully it will give them a bit of extra motivation to train well and to keep the Lotto streak running."
Greg Henderson, who was instrumental in positioning Greipel for the sprint was full of emotion at the stage finish, enraptured by his German team mate's performance.
"You know how much power he’s got. I’m leading out at 70km/h and he just comes past me," said Henderson. "I just don’t understand how anyone can go so fast. You’ve seen it. He’s right up there with the likes of Cavendish. The two are going to have a great rivalry this year."
Boasson Hagen who many have tipped as a pre-race favourite on the hillier parcours of this year's race explained that he isn't quite up to top competition form - yet.
"We lost Chris Sutton in the lead up to the final turn, I'm not sure what happened but that's cycling."
"Everyone in the team did a great job, so at least we can be satisfied with that."
The finale of the race was dominated by three teams, with Lampre-ISD, Rabobank and Lotto-Belisol all taking turns stringing the field out. On the penultimate lap Sky also arrived to make it a crowded run to the line. Renshaw punctured on the final lap and that left Lampre-ISD, Lotto-Belisol and Sky to fight it out.
Lotto-Belisol would not be thrown off and with less than a kilometre to go they had their man firmly placed near the front. In the final duel, two riders; Greipel and Boasson Hagen went head-to-head. Greipel however was clearly a level above and sporting a skin suit, he made the well-credentialled Boasson Hagen look almost amateurish in an ominous sign for the week ahead.
Earlier in the day, neo-pro Nathan Haas (Garmin-Barracuda) showed some class to take three of the four intermediate sprints, with Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Movistar) taking out the fourth.
Haas was part of nine-man break that featured throughout the mid-stages of the race. The break never held more than 25 seconds over the chasing bunch, with Lotto-Belisol, Rabobank and GreenEdge keeping a watchful eye at the front of the peloton.
On each and every sprint prime Haas jumped away easily from his fellow breakaway riders. Impressively he made a reasonably renowned fast-man in William Bonnet (FDJ-BigMat) look slow.
When the break was caught with around seven laps to go, the sprint teams began to ramp up for what was a thrilling finale.
An honourable mention goes out to UniSA-Australia rider Steele Von Hoff who finished in front of some big names including Alessandro Petacchi in his first WorldTour outing.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol||1:03:17|
|2||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling|
|3||Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin-Barracuda|
|4||Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar|
|5||Steele Von Hoff (Aus) UNI SA-Australia|
|6||Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Team Saxo Bank|
|7||Chris Sutton (Aus) Sky Procycling|
|8||José Ivan Gutierrez (Spa) Movistar|
|9||Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto-Belisol|
|10||Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-ISD|
|11||Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre-ISD|
|12||Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickStep|
|13||Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM|
|14||Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ-BigMat||0:00:02|
|15||Robbie Mcewen (Aus) GreenEDGE|
|16||Gert Steegmans (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep||0:00:05|
|17||Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto-Belisol||0:00:07|
|18||Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana|
|19||Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale|
|20||Angel Madrazo (Spa) Movistar|
|21||Takashi Miyazawa (Jpn) Team Saxo Bank|
|22||Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Procycling||0:00:11|
|23||Manuel Belletti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale||0:00:13|
|24||Ricardo Garcia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi||0:00:17|
|25||Adrián Saez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi|
|26||Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar|
|27||Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar|
|28||William Bonnet (Fra) FDJ-BigMat|
|29||Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi|
|30||Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha|
|31||Davide Vigano (Ita) Lampre-ISD|
|32||Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha|
|33||Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM|
|34||Tom Palmer (Aus) UNI SA-Australia|
|35||Jaroslaw Marycz (Pol) Team Saxo Bank|
|36||Will Clarke (Aus) UNI SA-Australia|
|37||Jay Mccarthy (Aus) UNI SA-Australia|
|38||Wouter Mol (Ned) Vacansoleil -DCM|
|39||Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin-Barracuda|
|40||Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto-Belisol|
|41||Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC|
|42||Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Rabobank|
|43||Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana|
|44||Robbie Hunter (RSA) Garmin-Barracuda|
|45||Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling|
|46||Kristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale|
|47||Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|48||Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) FDJ-BigMat|
|49||Federico Canuti (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale|
|50||Arnaud Courteille (Fra) FDJ-BigMat|
|51||Julien Vermote (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep|
|52||Pablo Urtasun (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi|
|53||Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep|
|54||Michael Rogers (Aus) Sky Procycling|
|55||Victor Cabedo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi|
|56||Martin Elmiger (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale|
|57||Rohan Dennis (Aus) UNI SA-Australia|
|58||Xavier Florencio Cabrè (Spa) Katusha|
|59||Matt Goss (Aus) GreenEDGE|
|60||Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC|
|61||Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC|
|62||Hayden Roulston (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan|
|63||Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank||0:00:27|
|64||Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) FDJ-BigMat||0:00:33|
|65||Frédéric BallanAlessandro (Ita) BMC|
|66||Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto-Belisol|
|67||David Lopez (Spa) Movistar||0:00:35|
|68||Daniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan|
|69||Vincente Reynes (Spa) Lotto-Belisol|
|70||Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-ISD|
|71||Gatis Smukulis (Lat) Katusha||0:00:37|
|72||Jonas Jörgensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank|
|73||Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha|
|74||Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM|
|75||Alan Marangoni (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale|
|76||Oscar Freire (Spa) Katusha|
|77||Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Barracuda|
|78||Ruben Perez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi|
|79||Sérgio Paulinho (Por) Team Saxo Bank|
|80||Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEDGE|
|81||Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo Bank|
|82||Romain Lemarchand (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|83||Romain Sicard (Fra) Euskaltel-Euskadi|
|84||Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM|
|85||Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana|
|86||Valentin Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana|
|87||Valentin KaisenOlivier (Bel) Lotto-Belisol|
|88||Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJ-BigMat|
|89||Marcello Pavarin (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM|
|90||Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan|
|91||Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre-ISD|
|92||Stefano Agostini (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale|
|93||Daniele Ratto (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale|
|94||Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack-Nissan|
|95||Linus Gerdemann (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan|
|96||Matthew Brammeier (Irl) Omega Pharma-QuickStep|
|97||Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Barracuda|
|98||Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC|
|99||Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan|
|100||Andreas Klier (Ger) Garmin-Barracuda|
|101||Andreas ShpilevskyBoris (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale|
|102||Lachlan Norris (Aus) UNI SA-Australia|
|103||Javier Moreno (Spa) Movistar|
|104||Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha|
|105||Mattéo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale|
|106||Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Cannondale|
|107||Massimo Graziato (Ita) Lampre-ISD|
|108||Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Saxo Bank|
|109||Bernard Sulzberger (Aus) UNI SA-Australia|
|110||Stuart O'grady (Aus) GreenEDGE|
|111||Francesco Masciarelli (Ita) Astana|
|112||Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank|
|113||Adam Blythe (GBr) BMC|
|114||Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-QuickStep|
|115||Dmitri Muravyev (Kaz) Astana|
|116||Matthew Lloyd (Aus) Lampre-ISD|
|117||Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin-Barracuda|
|118||Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC|
|119||Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank|
|120||Mark Renshaw (Aus) Rabobank|
|121||Jos Van Emden (Ned) Rabobank||0:00:52|
|122||Andrew Fenn (GBr) Omega Pharma-QuickStep||0:01:00|
|123||Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ-BigMat||0:01:02|
|124||Leigh Howard (Aus) GreenEDGE||0:01:05|
|125||Tom Leezer (Ned) Rabobank||0:01:29|
|126||Alex Dowsett (GBr) Sky Procycling|
|127||Mauro Da Dalto (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale||0:01:34|
|128||Jesse Sergent (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan||0:03:06|