By Paul Verkuylen in Adelaide
Frenchman Dimitri Champion started his season in Adelaide last year before going on to finish second in the time trial at the French championships. This year he is following the same formula, and spent most of the first day in a three-man breakaway.
"It's my second time at the Tour Down Under and I can see my form is quite ok again," he said. "I didn't exactly plan to go away today but I followed the move initiated by the Australian rider (Richie Porte). As we were gone, I wouldn't stop and wait for the bunch but I never believed in our possibilities to go for the stage win."
Champion, now in his second year with Bouygues Telecom, also spent some time ahead of the field last year, although this year's experience was likely more enjoyable as last year he was away with a group of 19 during stage three in torrential rain.
"Today was typical for a ProTour race with many teams chasing for their sprinters. We had no chance to make it but I still wanted to get the jersey for the hotspot sprint, unfortunately Mickaël Buffaz went faster than me on both occasions. Never mind, I'm happy racing here in the sun."