Marcel Kittel opens account with win over Greipel

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Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) took a narrow win over Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) to record his first People's Choice Classic win and first victory for the new Giant-Shimano team. Despite taking control of the race, Lotto had only one rider left for Greipel who has forced to start his sprint early and couldn't quite match the speed of Kittel. Greipel's team had come to the front in the final laps after Team Sky had tried to set the win up for CJ Sutton but ran out of gas letting Lotto and Giant-Shimano take over on the front and set up their German powerhouse sprinters.

The race was 10m too long by Greipel's estimation as Kittel proved the faster finisher with Caleb Ewan was a length back after being boxed in against the inside right rail 150m from the line.

"I'm really impressed by the boys today, they did a great job, a big thank you goes to the team," Kittel said after the race enjoying the taste of victory again. "I am a sprinter, I am always motivated. It doesn’t matter if it is January or October. Today I had good legs and the team was awesome so it was great to get the win."

"The first sprint of the season is always complicated so it's always a bit of a waiting game and you need a bit of luck to be in the perfect position and I was in the perfect position to start my sprint.

"It's always a relief to get the first win, now we can take it a little easy. I always love starting my season in Australia. In a race of 50km everyone is fresh at the end so I had to time my sprint just perfectly," Kittel said.

"It was a bit hectic in the two last corners before the finish line and my team did a great job and brought me in a really good position and from there I was able to go my own way and start the sprint after the last corner and then it was quite close to the finish line but I am happy I managed to win.

I think we (Greipel) started at the same time, because after the last corner you have start quite early because it is only 200m from there and I was on the outside."

The race begun with a flurry of attacks as riders tried their best to show off new team kit and let the peloton know how they were feeling. Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp), Travis Meyer (Drapac), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Robert Gesink (Belkin) and Jack Haig (UniSA) all formed a small group but it has brought back before it got too dangerous.

Hass than attacked as the group was being caught and was joined by Axel Domont (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Luca Wackermann (Lampre-Merida). Haas took the first sprint point on offer, a cash prize, while behind him a touch of wheels saw the peloton come down.

Giovanni Visconti suffered a compound fracture of the leg while Sutton scraped his elbow and was forced to change bikes. Graeme Brown (Belkin) was another rider to go down and sat out a lap before rejoining the peloton.

Up ahead, Anthony Roux (FDJ) made his way to the leading three and the tete de la course built a lead of 30 seconds which remained steady as the peloton was organising the chase.

Haas took the second cash prize having remained cool while Wackermann launched an early attempt for the prize. Haas went early and secured his third cash prize as the lead was slowly being cut down to 17 seconds with the leaders in sight of the main group. Wackermann and Domont tried to solo away but with 7 laps left to race it was all back together.

Sky came to the front and Geraint Thomas was bossing the peloton with Ian Stannard and Bernie Eisel lending a hand. Lotto and Giant-Shimano were letting Sky do all the work waiting patiently for the final laps to position their fast men. Sky team director Kurt-Asle Arvesen explained after the race that Sutton was feeling the impact of the crash.

"There are some really good sprinters out there and it's not easy to get around those guys. CJ hurt his knee and his wrist in the crash but it was good to see him get back on the bike and finish up there with the big sprinters," Arvesan said.

Matt Hayman than tried to get away but it came back in time for Philip Deignan to claim the final cash prize. Lotto came into the final corner and had run out of riders leaving Greipel to fend for himself but couldn’t hold off Kittel.

In an impressive first showing at WorldTour level, Caleb Ewan sprinted to third place living up to the hype. With his performance should come confidence and a stage victory by this time next week could be a reality. 

Kittel's teammate and key cog in the sprint train, Koen de Kort said after the race it was a perfect start for the team with its new sponsor. "You cannot ask for more than this. We were excited to race for our new sponsor and we're happy to win the first race of the season. I had a good feeling about it all day. The team stayed together and kept Marcel in good position. It can be complicated on these tight circuits. We knew it would be really close," de Kort said.

It was de Kort who had alerted his teammate to the speed of Ewan as Kittel explained, "I heard about Caleb Ewan from my team-mate Koen de Kort who lives in Australia during the winter so I was not surprised to see him sprinting and coming third. This might only be a criterium but it gives me confidence for winning stages of the Santos Tour Down Under as well," Kittel said.

The winner of three sprints in the race, Nathan Hass, is still recovering from injury and used the criterium to test his condition, explaining "I had a big crash at the Tour of Britain in September and I didn't ride the National's because I was still dealing with the injury, so today's race was a test for my body and it was fun too.

"The biggest thing is that the time off the bike has made me really hungry. I'm anywhere near my best form but having won the intermediate sprints here tonight takes me to the start of the season with confidence."

With Stage 1 uncertain as to whether it will go ahead, Kittel empathised with local residents. "It is horrible for the people living there and it is most important that the people are safe and the sport comes in the second position. We would like to race but if it is not possible it is not possible," he said.

If the stage doesn't go ahead, Kittel will have many more opportunities to test the speed of his compatriot. "It was the first sprint against each other and it was nice that I could get the win. But there will be more sprints in the future and I am looking forward to that now," he said.

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano1:04:34 
2Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol  
3Caleb Ewan (Aus) UniSA  
4Christopher Sutton (Aus) Team Sky  
5Jose Joaquin Rojas (Esp) FDJ  
6Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
7Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
8Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Drapac  
9Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale  
10Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto-Belisol  
11Steele von Hoff (Aus) Garmin-Sharp  
12Neil Van Der Ploeg (Aus) UniSA0:00:04 
13Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale  
14Guillaume Boivin (Can) Cannondale  
15Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha  
16Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) FDJ  
17Anthony Giacoppo (Aus) UniSA  
18Michael Kolar (Slo) Tinkoff-Saxobank  
19Boy Van Poppel (NED) Trek Factory0:00:09 
20Nicki Sorensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxobank  
21Jack Haig (Aus) UniSA  
22Bjorn Hurau (Ger) Europcar  
23Bram Tankink (Ned) Belkin  
24Guillaume Bonnafond (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale  
25Cameron Wurf (Aus) Cannondale  
26Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Astana  
27Rafael Valls (Esp) Lampre-Merida  
28Aleksandr Porsev (Rus) Katusha  
29Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Astana  
30José Juan Lobato (Esp) Movistar  
31Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
32Julien Berard (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale  
33Michael Andersen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxobank  
34Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana0:00:16 
35Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Katusha  
36Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC0:00:19 
37Maxime Bouet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale  
38Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha  
39Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto-Belisol  
40Jay McCarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxobank  
41William Bonnet (Fra) FDJ  
42Koen De Kort (Ned) Giant-Shimano  
43Ivan Jose Gutierrez (Esp) Movistar0:00:22 
44Matejv Mohoric (Slo) Cannondale  
45Bradley Linfield (Aus) UniSA  
46Danilo Wyss (Sui) BMC  
47Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) FDJ  
48Matthias Krizek (Aut) Cannondale  
49Rick Flens (Ned) Belkin  
50Kevin Reza (Fra) Europcar0:00:26 
51Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
52Andrew Fenn (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step0:00:36 
53Alberto Bettiol (Ita) Cannondale  
54Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida0:00:43 
55Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
56Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana  
57Frank Schleck (Lux) Trek Factory Racing  
58Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing  
59Bernard Sulzberger (Aus) Drapac  
60Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin  
61David Tanner (Aus) Belkin  
62Stef Clement (Ned) Belkin  
63Steve Morabito (Sui) BMC  
64Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC  
65Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC  
66Imanol Erviti (Esp) Movistar  
67Nicolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxobank0:00:48 
68Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
69Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana  
70Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
71Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana0:01:30 
72Rick Zabel (Ger) BMC0:01:33 
73Amael Moinard (Fra) BMC  
74Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana  
75Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha  
76Carlos Verona (Esp) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
77Kenny Elissonde (Fra) FDJ  
78Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp0:01:35 
79Perrig Quemeneur (Fra) Europcar  
80Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin-Sharp  
81Angelo Tulik (Fra) Europcar  
82Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky0:01:40 
83Luke Rowe (Gbr) Team Sky  
84Bernard Eisel (Aut) Team Sky  
85Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto-Belisol  
86Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
87Thierry Hupond (Fra) Giant-Shimano  
88Nikias Arndt (Ger) Giant-Shimano  
89Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Giant-Shimano  
90Thomas Peterson (USA) Giant-Shimano  
91Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky0:01:46 
92Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
93Egor Silin (Rus) Katusha  
94Laurent Didier (Lux) Trek Factory Racing  
95Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier (Fra) FDJ0:01:49 
96Arnaud Courteille (Fra) FDJ  
97Graeme Brown (Aus) Belkin  
98Jack Bobridge (Aus) Belkin  
99Axel Domont (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale  
100Mikhail Ignatyev (Rus) Katusha  
101Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
102Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
103Olivier Kaisen (Bel) Lotto-Belisol  
104Javier Moreno (Esp) Movistar  
105Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Drapac  
106William Clarke (Aus) Drapac  
107Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
108Daryl Impey (Rsa) Orica-GreenEdge  
109Matthew Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
110Rory Sutherland (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxobank  
111Philip Deignan (Irl) Team Sky  
112Mark O'Brien (Aus) UniSA  
113Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
114Luca Wackermann (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
115Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Drapac  
116Calvin Watson (Aus) Trek Factory Racing0:01:55 
117Jan Bakelants (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
118Campbell Flakemore (Aus) UniSA  
119Christpher Juul Jensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxobank  
120Damien Gaudin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale  
121Simon Geschke (Ger) Giant-Shimano  
122Jérome Cousin (Fra) Europcar  
123Evan Huffman (USA) Astana  
124Caleb Fairly (USA) Garmin-Sharp  
125Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp  
126Robbie Hucker (Aus) Drapac  
127Jens Voigt (Ger) Trek Factory Racing  
128Stig Broeckx (Bel) Lotto-Belisol0:02:04 
129Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto-Belisol0:02:10 
130Ruben Plaza (Esp) Movistar  
131Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ0:02:20 
132Thomas Dekker (Ned) Garmin-Sharp0:02:43 
133Lachlan Morton (Aus) Garmin-Sharp  
134George Bennett (NZl) Cannondale  
135Maxime Daniel (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale0:03:20 
DNFDanny Van Poppel (NED) Trek Factory  
DNFRichie Porte (Aus) Team Sky  
DNFGiovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar  
DNFTravis Meyer (Aus) Drapac  
Sprint one
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp  
2Luca Wackermann (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
3Axel Domont (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale  
Sprint two
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp  
2Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ  
3Axel Domont (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale  
Sprint three
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp  
2Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ  
3Luca Wackermann (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
Sprint four
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Philip Deignan (Irl) Team Sky  
2Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky  
3Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky  



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