The Cancer Council Helpline Classic is a pre-cursor to the ProTour-opening Tour Down Under in Adelaide, South Australia. Held in Rymill Park, the criterium doesn’t contribute to the race’s overall classification but allows riders to ease into a week of racing.
Coverage of the Cancer Council Helpline Classic will commence at 4:10 local time on Sunday, January 17.
Welcome back to Adealide, Australia for the 2010 ProTour curtain raiser: Santos Tour Down Under. This year’s race features an impressive lineup: three Grand Tour winners in Lance Armstrong, Oscar Pereiro and Alejandro Valverde.
Beside that well credentialed bunch we’ve got a International Cycling Union World Road Champion in this year’s field. Even better, he’s an Australian: Cadel Evans won the title with a brilliant ride in Switzerland last year.
Mike Rann has fired the gun and the field is away for this year's criterium.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology the riders will face relatively cool conditions for today’s criterium, with the temperature 20.9 degrees Celsius while it’s blowing a little outside at the moment, with a South-South West wind blowing at around 28 km/h.
The field is staying together so far, with Cadel Evans leading the peloton while riders who are likely to feature in the Tour Down Under's general classification like defending champion Allan Davis (Astana) are riding near the rear.
Our first attack has come from Rohan Dennis (UniSA), who won the Under 23 Australian Time Trial Championship just over one week ago.
The peloton hasn't let Dennis get away, but there's another UniSA rider sitting near the front.
Robert Hunter (Garmin-Transitions) was feeling confident about the week of racing ahead at the team’s press conference yesterday. Hunter has been in Australia for nearly two weeks getting aclimatised to the South Australian heat. “Obviously it’s early in the season but I’ve come off a good winter break, I’ve been training through November and December,” he said. “The training we’ve been doing over the past week has been good and it seems I’m not doing too bad.
“I think most of the Garmin guys are riding pretty well, I’d like to think I’ve got a good chance of tying up a victory this week, but a lot of things can happen in the race. If all things go well I think we’ve got a pretty good chance of going well this week and that’s obviously our priority,” added Hunter.
David Kemp (UniSA) is trying to force a gap, with four riders following. The group includes a Matthew Wilson (Garmin Transitions), HTC Columbia and Matthew Hayman (Team Sky).
That group has been caught, but another group is trying to go clear.
Rabobank's Pieter Weening has followed a move by Michael Matthews (UniSA).
The duo has a good lead over the peloton, but there's another rider trying to cross to them.
Jack Bobridge (Garmin-Transitions) has managed to cross to the group, taking it to three. Bobridge's arrival could see the peloton chase down the move, with the rider considered threatening by most in the peloton.
The peloton has just been giving the bell, meaning this three will likely decide the day's first sprint.
The leaders have been, but Bobridge has launched a counter attack.
In fact it's Cameron Meyer, Bobridge's team-mate, whose made the move which has been followed by David Vitoria.
David Vitoria is from Footon-Servetto-Fuji who released their, erm, interesting team kit last week.
Vitoria took the first sprint points from Meyer, while third went to a rider in the peloton.
Sean Yates was feeling confident about his team’s chances today: Henderson will be our man today, because he’s very fast. He’s our best chance judging on the way he’s been racing to date. If it comes to a sprint we’ll try to put our train into practice.
Vitoria and Meyer have a 15 second lead at the moment. Meyer's brother Travis, who isn't contesting today's race, won the Australian Open Road Championship title last weekend in Ballarat, Victoria.
Last year’s winner, Robbie McEwen, isn’t expected to feature in today’s sprint, according to journalists on the race. I guess it will be a test of what journalists really know, but McEwen was forced to pull out of the Australian Criterium Championship race last week as well as the road race after hurting his knee while doing laundry.
11km remaining from 51km
The gap has grown to 20 seconds, but a lone rider in Anthony Roux (Francaise Des Jeux) is sitting exactly in between at 10 seconds.
The leaders have just been given the bell for the next sprint lap, but the peloton looks like it's hard at work chasing down the group.
Team Milram’s Luke Roberts is expecting his team-mate to be on the podium again after today’s stage. “Wim Stroetinga is the guy we’ll look to today. He took second here last year and he’s pretty keen to be up there again.”
Vitoria has stopped pulling in the lead group, leaving just Meyer to work and he doesn't stand a chance.
Ivan Gutierrez has attacked as Meyer's group was caught. Cyclingnews diarist Daryl Impey (RadioShack) has followed.
Gutierrez claimed the sprint at the end of lap 10 over Impey.
A group of four riders has formed off the front, again including riders from UniSA and Garmin Transitions. Gorka Izaguirre is waving to the other three riders to get them working trying to get this move working.
Interestingly RadioShack has its entire team sitting near the front of the peloton, behind the entire HTC-Columbia train. It's a big change from last year, where Armstrong was sheltered by the entire Astana squad near the rear, in his come-back race.
Former Australian champion Matthew Wilson has made a solo attack as his three break-away mates were caught by the peloton.
Olivier Kaisen (Omega Pharma Lotto) has bridged across to Wilson, giving us two riders in the lead.
Romain Sicard (Euskaltel – Euskadi) is attempting to cross to Wilson and Kaisen.
It looks like Sicard has accepted he won't be able to make it across and has sat up.
The peloton is back together after 14 laps with Oscar Pereiro driving the pace.
Baden Cooke has been favoured for this week, but Bradley McGee says they won’t be playing that card today. “We’re not looking to Cooke today. His job is later in the week for the overall. We’re going with JJ Haedo for today as he’s feeling fast.”
Bobridge has made an attempt for the next sprint points, but Andriy Grivko (Astana) got over the top of him.
Lance Armstrong believes Team Sky will push the technical boundaries and cycling's globalisation is beneficial for the sport, even if it means teams with budgets of $20million. What do you think? Discuss in Cyclingnews.com’s forum.
Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) and Oscar Pereiro (Astana) have attacked with three other riders.
The five riders have a 11 second lead.
21km remaining from 51km
The peloton is reacting, with two more riders breaking off the peloton's front.
Pereiro is really driving this group, taking a big turn then slotting in third wheel.
Pereiro and Armstrong have led the group across the line as it gets the bell for another sprint. HTC Columbia is driving the peloton, they don't want this group to split as Andre Griepel is in fine sprinting form.
Oscar Pereiro and Lance Armstrong's group has a growing lead at the moment, it's out to 20 seconds but as we've seen already, that can be brought back quickly when the peloton is motivated.
Mikael Cherel and Peter Sagan are in the lead group with the two Tour de France winners.
Perget Mathieu is the fifth rider in the lead group.
We're on lap 23 of 30, Armstrong and Pereiro are calling the shots in the lead group and also going most of the work.
Mikael Cherel has been dropped by the lead group.
10km remaining from 51km
The four leaders are working really well together but I don't think it's going to mean much. The peloton's holding them around the 13 second mark, which they can easily bring back. Rather, I think RadioShack is playing this to try and wear out HTC-Columbia's train and give Gert Steegmans an edge.
RadioShack director Johan Bruyneel knows Steegmans can't beat Andre Griepel (HTC Columbia) with outright speed, so he's playing some tactics to get the German's team out and working hard.
The leaders are starting to look over their shoulder a little more often than they had previously, they're monitoring the margin to the peloton. There's no concerted effort to chase them down yet. Columbia is likely hoping another team - perhaps Team Milram - will do the leg work to bring the four leaders back.
Team Sky and Team Milram have each moved a handful of riders to the front of the peloton.
Perget Mathieu has realised it's all over, dropping out the back of the chase group. Then there were three.
Rabobank with some help from Team Milram has shut down the leading move. I guess we won't see Lance Armstrong win a criterium today...not overly surprising, is it.
We're within three laps of the finish now and you can see some trains starting to form. Team Sky is there, Team Milram is there. HTC-Columbia has its train coming along the outside.
The entire HTC-Columbia squad is at the front of the peloton, Team Sky is trying to sneak up the outside but doesn't look as organised.
Wow. Team Sky has driven straight down the outside of HTC-Columbia, lifting the pace sharply and forcing the peloton to string out much more.
Graeme Brown (Rabobank) is trying to get a free ride on Team Sky's wheels, ironically being driven by his former teammate Matthew Hayman.
Columbia-HTC is trying to pull the same tactic on Team Sky with one lap remaining. McEwen is riding in sixth wheel, looks like he's up for some action in today's sprint after all.
HTC-Columbia has shut Team Sky out
Allan Davis is right up there too.
Team Sky get one, two!
Greg Henderson (Team Sky) took the win from Chris Sutton (Team Sky), Robbie McEwen (Katusha) third.
Andre Griepel could only claim fourth, with Baden Cooke (Team Saxo Bank) fifth and Graeme Brown (Rabobank) sixth.
Three of Team Sky's riders are doing a lap of honour on the 1.7 kilometre course. I'm guessing a very happy Dave Brailsford is out there somewhere.
Sutton had essentially out-paced Henderson in the sprint, but he knew they had it sewn up and started celebrating while Henderson slipped through.
Well, that's it folks. After all the talk, Team Sky has showed it can do the business on the track too at its first race. HTC-Columbia will be a bit disappointed with that outcome and might have a challenge on their hands this week, but at least the win doesn't count to the Tour Down Under's overall classification so nothing has been lost yet.
"It was just unbelievable," said Henderson. "The lead out was just so fast, I don’t think I’ve ever been on anything faster and in the end my job was easy. What an incredible feeling."
Thanks to all those who joined us for Cyclingnews' first live coverage of 2010. It's been a pleasure and we hope you'll return for the first Tour Down Under ProTour stage on Tuesday.
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