His win may not have been as dominant as it was 12 months earlier, but Andre Greipel's victory in the People's Choice Classic in Adelaide on Sunday evening showed that little has changed for the best lead-out train in the business.
If there had been any concerns that the Lotto Belisol train might wander down the path of complacency after piloting the German sprinter to 19 wins in 2012, the notion was firmly put to bed with Greipel assuredly taking first place across the line, ahead of Matt Goss (Orica GreenEdge) and teammate Greg Henderson.
"Lotto did it perfectly," said runner-up Goss, who sat on Greipel's wheel most of the final lap. "Hendy didn't hit the front until 250 metres to go or less. Greipel had a perfect sit."
"They're definitely one of the strongest teams," Goss continued. "They're well-drilled. They're patient. They move when they have to and they move as a team. And that's all you can ask for with a lead-out train."
Olivier Kaisen laid the foundation for the victory, sitting on the front of the peloton with the new face in the train, Tim Wellens, closely behind. Adam Hansen, the eyes and ears of the team, was no worse than fourth wheel the vast majority of the race.
"That's the plan," Hansen told Cyclingnews following the race. "For sure it's all about communication. We speak lots - you can't speak from fifth position all the way up so it's like Chinese whispers a bit in the bunch. We have a set plan but it never happens: some guys go a bit too early, some guys can go a bit longer. Communication brings it all together."
The result was a master class in the art of the lead out. Lotto Belisol had the numbers game won with a lap to go, having taken over from Argos-Shimano on lap 28 of 30. Sporting their new, intergalactic-look platinum helmets, it was a case of preparing Greipel to launch.
"We controlled the breakaway and Adam [Hansen] made the decision to start the lead out with one-and-a-half laps to go," explained Greipel. "I was happy to finish it off."
When it comes to stage wins, the team has just the one option, and it's Greipel – who has won more stages [ten] than any other rider at this Tour Down Under. He'll be in the hunt for a handful of the six later this week. A third overall victory has been ruled out on account of a harder course in 2013 but in terms of the sprint stages, the gauntlet has once again been laid down.
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As a sports journalist and producer since 1997, Jane has covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games, rugby league, motorsport, cricket, surfing, triathlon, rugby union, and golf for print, radio, television and online. However her enduring passion has been cycling.
Jane is a former Australian Editor of Cyclingnews from 2011 to 2013 and continues to freelance within the cycling industry.
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