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Sky proves the goods with Henderson win

Last year Greg Henderson entered the Tour Down Under week as a support rider for André Greipel. A year later, as part of Team Sky's lineup, the kiwi sprinter is the Cancer Council Helpline Classic champion.

The 33-year-old from Dunedin went into the race the team's go to man in the anticipated sprint finish according to directeur sportif Sean Yates and he delivered, taking a one-two with in-form Australian Chris Sutton as Greipel finished third after hitting out for the line a long way from home.

Team Sky put on a two-lap masterclass in how to execute the perfect leadout train at the right time - the final couple of times around the Adelaide East End circuit - to make good on the hype that has surrounded the recent launch of the British squad.

"The lead out was so fast, I've never been on the back of anything faster," said Henderson after the finish. And over the final 200 metres nobodyw as faster than Henderson and Sutton, the Antipodean connection crushing the opposition in a finale dominated by the boys in black (and blue).

One of those riders contributing the most to the team's finishing flourish was Russell Downing, the British stalwart finally proving to the world that he has what it takes to transport the world's best sprinters to the line in the best way possible.

"We were there from two to go," he explained after the finish. "Then Columbia got it organised on the left hander down the back; we were still in formation so I lead it round the outside and straight out of the corner and took the Columbia train off. The boys were yelling behind and I took it all the way down the straight and into the corner.

Downing and Mat Hayman - whose services were sorely missed today by former team Rabobank - continued to drive the Sky train despite the attempts of HTC-Columbia to negate the effects of the British team's dominance. "We had at least five guys there - it was an amazing team effort," continued Downing. "We had a plan, and it worked. That was the first race of the year and it's a dream come true."

"We said that was the deal - if we could stick to the plan and it worked, then we were a possible chance of winning, and it did," said Downing.

Runner up Sutton looked like a possible winner until the final metres, when Henderson surged forward and confirmed his status as the team's captain for the race. While the pair rode well during the recent Jayco Bay Classic, today's performance was an appetiser for season 2010.

"We were just doing our own thing," said and elated Sutton, who celebrated with uncle Shane after the stellar performance. "There's been a lot of hype in the media about Columbia versus Sky; we weren't having much to do with it, really... just concentrating on ourselves and trying to get it all right.

"It's always difficult doing one thing out training and then getting to a race - we knew that if we could put it together today it would pay off. I can't believe it - it's a dream start.

As for the squad's plans heading into the Santos Tour Down Under, Sutton reiterated team manager Dave Brailsford's comments that it won't be going for an overall victory: "We're going to take it one day at a time and just keep cool and level-headed. It's just a matter of staying calm; we've had our first win and as I said before the start, there's no pressure on us - the only pressure we feel is that which we put on ourselves," he said.

Two Tour champions make a break

The race was animated by two unlikely characters to find in a criterium breakaway, Lance Armstrong and Oscar Pereiro, the pair joined by Mathieu Perget (Caisse d'Epargne), Mikael Cherel (Française des Jeux) and Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Doimo) to establish a healthy lead off the front of the peloton with approximately two-thirds of the race distance covered.

The move was initiated following the third prime sprint, with the star-studded quintet quickly forming and stamping its authority on the front of the race. "I had a small desire to be in a group like that, but that one stayed away longer than we all expected and longer than I saw last year," said Armstrong, who proved he's here in much better condition that last January.

"Everybody was completely going for it, no talking and only a little bit of looking around after the corners to see how close they [the peloton] were," he added. "In terms of the mix, it was a nice balance, everybody did their work. Some guys started to taper off at the end, but that's to be expected, we get out there and don't expect to be out there that long."

And while the break remained at the head of proceedings for a lot longer than expected, the final three laps belonged to the sprinters' teams and in particular Team Sky, which blanketed the front of the field with precision and pace, resulting in the dominant finale that netted the team a 100 percent strike rate in its first outing.


#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Gregory Hederson (NZl) Team Sky1:04:33
2Christopher Sutton (Aus) Team Sky
3Andre Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia
4Robbie McEwen (Aus) Katusha
5Baden Cooke (Aus) Team Saxo Bank
6Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank
7Allan Davis (Aus) Astana
8Jose Rojas (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
9Anthony Ravard (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale
10Manuel Cardoso (Ita) Footon-Servetto
11Juan Jose Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank
12Mathew Goss (Aus) HTC-Columbia
13Daryl Impey (RSA) Team RadioShack
14Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) UniSA-Australian National Team
15George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team
16Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Team RadioShack
17Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Katusha
18Gert Steegmans (Bel) Team RadioShack
19Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française des Jeux
20René Mandri (Est) Ag2R La Mondiale
21Robbie Hunter (RSA) Garmin-Transitions
22Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma – Lotto
23Wim Stroetinga (Ned) Team Milram
24Robert Foester (Ger) Team Milram
25Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr) Ag2R La Mondiale
26Ivan Velasco (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
27Peter Sagan (Skv) Liquigas
28Gorka Izaguirre (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
29Maciej Paterski (Pol) Liquigas
30Sebastien Rosseler (Bel) Team RadioShack
31Benjamin Swift (GBr) Team Sky
32Valeriy Dmitriyev (Kaz) Astana
33Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) BMC Racing Team
34Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas
35Jonas Ljungblad (Swe) Omega Pharma – Lotto
36Mathieu Drujon (Fra) Caisse d’Epargne
37Stuart O'grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank
38Bernard Eisel (Aut) HTC-Columbia
39Cameron Meyer (Aus) Garmin-Transitions0:00:08
40Josep Jufre Pou (Spa) Astana
41David Gutierrez (Spa) Footon-Servetto
42Ivan Gutierrez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
43Bert Grabsch (Ger) HTC-Columbia
44Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia
45Pierre Cazaux (Fra) Française des Jeux
46Frank Hoj (Den) Team Saxo Bank
47Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Katusha
48Gorazd Stangelj (Slo) Astana
49Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Team RadioShack
50Mickael Delage (Fra) Omega Pharma – Lotto
51Rick Flens (Ned) Rabobank
52Romain Sicard (Fra) Euskaltel – Euskadi
53Eduard Vorganov (RSA) Katusha
54Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
55Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
56Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
57Gerben Lowik (Ned) Omega Pharma – Lotto
58Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Française des Jeux
59Nikolas Maes (Bel) Quick Step
60Aitor Perez Arrieta (Spa) Footon-Servetto
61Peter Mcdonald (Aus) UniSA-Australian National Team
62Lance Armstrong (USA) Team RadioShack
63Jose Alberto Benitez Roman (Spa) Footon-Servetto
64Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team
65Olivier Kaisen (Bel) Omega Pharma – Lotto
66Kristjan Koren (Slo) Liquigas
67Christian Meier (Can) Garmin-Transitions
68Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana
69Thomas Vedel Kvist (Den) Quick Step
70Kasper Klostergaard (Den) Team Saxo Bank
71Ludovic Turpin (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale
72Mauro Finetto (Ita) Liquigas0:00:16
73Anthony Roux (Fra) Française des Jeux0:00:17
74Michele Merlo (Ita) Footon-Servetto
75Marcel Sieberg (Ger) HTC-Columbia
76Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram
77Thomas Frei (Swi) BMC Racing Team0:00:23
78Evans Cadel (Aus) BMC Racing Team
79Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Française des Jeux
80Matthew Wilson (Aus) Garmin-Transitions
81Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team
82Michael Matthews (Aus) UniSA-Australian National Team
83Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank
84Alexander Pliuschin (Mda) Katusha
85Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
86Jurgen Van Goolen (Bel) Omega Pharma – Lotto
87Miguel Minguez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
88Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Liquigas
89Daniel Sesma (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
90Thomas Rohregger (Ger) Team Milram
91Trent Lowe (Aus) Garmin-Transitions
92Tiziano Dall'Antionia (Ita) Liquigas
93Timothy Roe (Aus) UniSA-Australian National Team
94Arthur Vichot (Fra) Française des Jeux
95David Kemp (Aus) UniSA-Australian National Team
96Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky
97Jesus Hernandez Blazquez (Spa) Astana
98Davide Vigano (Ita) Team Sky
99Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Astana
100Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo Bank
101Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank
102Simon Clarke (Aus) UniSA-Australian National Team
103Cyril Dessel (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale
104Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin-Transitions
105Sergey Klimov (Rus) Katusha
106Joan Ripoll Horrach (Spa) Katusha
107Biel Kadri (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale
108Martin Elmiger (Swi) Ag2R La Mondiale
109Jos Van Emden (Ned) Rabobank
110Mauro Facci (Ita) Quick Step
111Markus Fothen (Ger) Team Milram
112Jack Bobridge (Aus) Garmin-Transitions
113Rohan Dennis (Aus) UniSA-Australian National Team
114Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Quick Step
115Mikael Cherel (Fra) Française des Jeux
116Dominik Roels (Ger) Team Milram
117Hayden Roulston (NZl) HTC-Columbia
118Jason Mccartney (USA) Team RadioShack
119Karsten Kroon (Ned) BMC Racing Team
120Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank
121Matthew Lloyd (Aus) Omega Pharma – Lotto
122Jose Garcia (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
123Koos Moerenhout (Ned) Rabobank
124Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Quick Step
125Addy Engels (Ned) Quick Step
126Tom Leezer (Ned) Rabobank0:00:35
127Mathew Hayman (Aus) Team Sky0:00:55
128David Vitoria (Spa) Footon-Servetto0:01:16
129Perget Mathieu (Fra) Caisse d’Epargne
130Russell Downing (GBr) Team Sky
131Björn Schroder (Ger) Team Milram0:01:34
DNSMartin Pedersen (Den) Footon-Servetto
DNSAndreas Stauff (Ger) Quick Step


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