By Jean-François Quénet in Adelaide
We might hear more this year from the first attacker of the Tour Down Under as Silence-Lotto has plans to promote Olivier Kaisen as one of the team's high-profiled domestiques following the retirement of Wim Vansevenant at the end of last year.
The rider from the Wallonia region of Belgium spent most of stage one with Andoni Lafuente of Team Euskaltel-Euskadi.
"At the start I spoke with my experienced teammate Glenn D'Hollander who said the first guy to attack would go far," Kaisen said. "I thought, 'Why not myself?' as I felt it's not bad at all to get a leader's jersey at a ProTour race.
"I made an agreement with the Spaniard: he went for the KOM [mountain points - ed.], I went for the [sprint] points. He did made some mistakes like riding too strongly at the beginning of our breakaway. We slowed down later in the climb of Checker Hill – it was so hot!"
For the second year in a row, Kaisen chose to start his season in Australia. He said it's been an "ideal preparation" for his year and that his teammates at the Portugal training camp faced rain every day.
It will be an interesting season for Kaisen as his Belgian team has a Walloon captain for the first time. "It's a really good thing that Philippe Gilbert has joined us for this year. He's got a good mentality and it's a pleasure to work for somebody who says 'thank you' at the end of the race. We'll speak a bit more French in the team, as well."
Kaisen is ready to give his all to help Gilbert when they'll race together. For now, his race programme remains uncertain and his scheduled races will depend on his form.
"I saw at the December training camp that Olivier was already in good shape," directeur sportif Hendrik Redant. "So, today, I suggested to him to try and go for something. For the rest of the season, we expect him to ride as well as he did at the Vuelta [a España] last year.
"He's got a good character. He's a hard worker with time trial skills. He's tall, so he can protect his captains from the wind, and he's an efficient lead-out man, as well. He can become a very good gregario at the same level as Vansevenant. I'm not talking of him being just one more domestique, but a high-profiled domestique."
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