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Santos Tour Down Under 2011: Stage 1

Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 2011 Santos Tour Down Under, coming at ya from the roads around Adelaide, Australia. We've got a 138km stage that takes riders from the residential development at Mawson Lakes to Angaston, nestled in the Barossa Valley.

If you've got a comment about anything concerning this year's edition of the Tour Down Under, hit us on cyclingnews@cyclingnews.com...

134km remaining from 138km

Race all together, as we should expect on the first day,although it won't be long until the breakaway hopefuls make a dash for freedom ahead of the KOM at Black Top Road, which comes 11.6km into the stage.

Today's stage takes riders through Gawler, the hometown of Garmin-Cervelo rider and Australian national road race champ Jack Bobridge, who spoke with Cyclingnews' Jane Aubrey this morning. He hopes to honour the green-and-gold jersey on the roads around his hometown and help Tyler Farrar to the win in Angaston. He believes Farrar has the speed to be right up there at the finish and vying for the win.

Two years ago he made a splash with a strong ride on the first stage that actually finished in Mawson Lakes and today Bobridge said he'll again be looking for some breakaway opportunites. Given his strength however, he won't be given much leash to let loose in his typical swashbucking style...

129km remaining from 138km

Despite some early sorties off the front, the peloton remains together and will likely hit the start of the KOM together... Two kilometres to the top, fellas!

128km remaining from 138km

Three riders have tried their luck with an attack... We'll endeavour to get those names to you in a short while but it could be the start of the day's long break

Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is at it again, along with Luke Roberts (UniSA) and Julien Loubet (Ag2R-la Mondiale)... These three have a small gap up the KOM

126km remaining from 138km

The leading trio has just passed the KOM point, with Julien Loubet (Ag2R-la Mondiale) taking it, followed by Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Luke Roberts (UniSA)

That was a short-lived break, as the three men up front are about to be caught...

126km remaining from 138km

Race all together now...

125km remaining from 138km

Five riders have tried their luck with an attack, with Simon Clarke (Astana), Jurgen Van De Walle (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Mathieu Perget (Ag2R), Mitch Docker (UniSA), Miguel Minguez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in the group. They quickly get 500m on the peloton

122km remaining from 138km

More riders have gone on the attack, so there's a little confusion as to who is in the break - they have 45 seconds' advantage, however.

119km remaining from 138km

The gap has opened up to 1:40 and it looks like we have our main break for the day

A double check on that breakaway group - we have Simon Clarke (Astana), Mathieu Perget (Ag2R), Mitch Docker (UniSA), Miguel Minguez and Jon Izaguirre (both Euskaltel-Euskadi)... They have an advantage of 2:24 over the peloton

Simon Clarke is one of the most experienced riders in this break when it comes to the Tour Down Under, having ridden several editions, the most recent being last year when he competed for UniSA-Australia. He's a good all-rounder and is representing his new ProTour outfit Astana well in this break.

By the way folks, we'll bring you an updated result for that KOM on Black Top Rd. Apologies to Luke Roberts (UniSA), who actually took maximum points, followed by Julien Loubet (Ag2R-la Mondiale) and Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi)...

Sounds like Jack Bobridge has lost the transponder from his bike - it'll be hard to record a time without it and the race officials are asking their colleagues to keep an eye out for it. Would make an interesting souvenir for any fans...

115km remaining from 138km

The gap has increased dramatically to 4:05... Clarke and co are driving their advantage and will hit a downhill patch soon. That should help bump up the time gap

Bang on cue, HTC-Highroad and Team Sky have moved to the front of the peloton and taken up the chase... No surprises there and it's a good scenario for the likes of Omega Pharma-Lotto and Garmin-Cervelo, who can sit in behind and get a ride.

Another team with a couple of fast lads in it is Rabobank, the Dutch squad boasting experienced sprinter Graeme Brown and neo-pro Michael Matthews. Both Aussies pack a punch in a bunch kick and could be dark horses for today's stage while all the attention is on Andre Greipel, Mark Cavendish and Matt Goss... See Brown's comments about today's stage for an indication of what to expect in the finish.

110km remaining from 138km

Just as we said that teams HTC-Highroad and Sky were chasing, the time gap has been reduced to 3:45. Big Bert Grabsch will likely be on the front driving his boys towards the break...

The second half of today's stage is not as straightforward as it seems - it's on undulating roads, with 'dead' road surfaces and possible headwinds. We'll get a 'wind check' soon to let you know what to expect, although at the moment all we can say is "expect the unexpected"...

105km remaining from 138km

The time gap is still hovering over three minutes...

102km remaining from 138km

The gap has now dropped below three minutes - it's currently 2:40 and heading south. Seems like the sprinters' teams are worried about what is a quality break

96km remaining from 138km

The break will be hitting the intermediate sprint at Sandy Creek in three kilometres - it's nice and flat out that way and they can make good time on the main field

The peloton is just over a kilometre behind the break - seems like they've established the gap they want - it currently sits as 2:35 - and it's time to settle into tempo

Some sad news from the peloton this morning, with Sergei Ivanov's father passing away overnight at the age of 57 from a brain haemorrhage. The Russian national champ considered withdrawing from the race but will honour his father by continuing in the event. Cyclingnews wishes its sincerest condolences to the Katusha rider and his family...

92km remaining from 138km

The first intermediate sprint was won by Mitch Docker (UniSA), followed by Miguel Minguez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Simon Clarke (Astana)

And the gap is 2:42...

Mitch Docker, who usually rides for ProConti team Skil-Shimano, is another one of UniSA's experienced hands this week, the Victorian a strong rider with a track background who was drafted into his Dutch team to aid in its Classics campaign.

87km remaining from 138km

The time gap is at 2:37, with the peloton led by riders from HTC-Highroad, Garmin-Cervelo, Omega Pharma-Lotto and Team Sky... The big sprinters' teams are up there and making sure there are no stuff ups today. Can't blame them really...

86km remaining from 138km

We're getting word that Simon Clarke (Astana) has won the second intermediate sprint at Lyndoch...

85km remaining from 138km

Seems like Mathieu Perget has taken the second intermediate sprint, followed by Simon Clarke and Miguel Minguez... Cyclingnews has coined today's catch phrase - 'Go the Ming' in support of Miguel Minguez's efforts in the break.

Maybe, in true Australian style, that catch phrase could become: 'Up the Ming' Let us know what you want today's catch phrase to be and we'll set it in stone...

83km remaining from 138km

The time gap is still around two-and-a-half minutes and we'll endeavour to get you a complete time check shortly. The bulk of the hard yakka is still being done by HTC-Highroad, Garmin-Cervelo, Omega Pharma-Lotto and Team Sky...

81km remaining from 138km

The break has 2:10 over the peloton, with the gap steadily decreasing as we near the halfway point of today's stage

As the HTC-Highroad boys bust their chops in the South Australian heat, they're hoping that Matt Goss, who won Sunday evening's Cancer Council Classic, can get up for the win in today's stage. He spoke with Cyclingnews before the start in Mawson Lakes and told Jane Aubrey that he's hoping to be at the pointy end of the field at the end despite the hard finish. He explained that it's all about accumulating as many bonus points as possible as early as they can before Saturday, which will be a tough day that includes two ascents of Old Willunga Hill.

73km remaining from 138km

The peloton has just hit Tanunda and the time gap is at 1:57...

72km remaining from 138km

The gap has nudged back up over two minutes, sitting at 2:09 as the peloton leaves Tanunda. It's now time for the finishing circuits that take riders through Nuriootpa and Angaston, the finish town.

Team Sky's Simon Gerrans was interviewed before today's stage and the 2006 Tour Down Under champion was upbeat about his chances this week in Adelaide, saying, "I’m focusing on the GC . If things split up later in the week, I’m hoping to be right up there, so today I’m just going to try stay out of trouble and stay up the front and not lose any time."

63km remaining from 138km

The peloton is heading out of Nuriootpa for the first time and on its way to Angaston, to pass the finish line for the first of three trips past the post in the town made famous by its preserved fruit factory.

The time gap is sitting on 2:10 as the peloton consolidates its position over halfway through the stage

Skye has emailed in, asking whether Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel will be sharing cooking tips with each other in the bunch; maybe it could be cocktail suggestions or scone recipes... You be the judge.

One man sure to know a thing or two about scones - being Australian and all - is Mark Renshaw. The HTC-Highroad leadout maestro told Cyclingnews this morning that he did his first race around One Tree Hill as a 17-year-old and on that occasion it was actually snowing!

No fear of that today, Mark.

He added that he's happy with where he's at in terms of his form and that all the talk about Matt Goss has worked out well for the team as it has taken most of the pressure off Mark Cavendish. He was quick to add that 'Cav' isn't in bad form and he's not writing him off but that it's January and there's a long season ahead.

58km remaining from 138km

The peloton heads through Angaston for the first time and the time between it and the break stands at 2:04...

No feedback on today's catch phrase of 'Up the Ming' as a warcry in support of breakaway rider Miguel Minguez... Send us your thoughts at cyclingnews@cyclingnews.com...

And HTC-Highroad's Hayden Roulston gets a new bike as the derailleur on his old one seemed to be a little cactus...

Less than two minutes now separates break from peloton, as the gap stands at 1:58. The big teams will keep it at this for some time as there are still more than 50km left in the stage.

54km remaining from 138km

OK, so maybe the big sprinters' teams are intent on knocking off this break well in advance of the finish as the gap has decreased to 1:43... The escape group will be finding it hard to maintain its advantage as we have "light to moderate south to southwest winds", which means their leading quintet will be facing a headwind on the back part of the finishing circuit

One of the brightest young lights in the Tour Down Under peloton is current U23 road world champion Michael Matthews. He was interviewed before the start in Mawson Lakes and said, "The first stage is going to be hard because everyone will be looking at each other.

"Hopefully it will come down to a bunch sprint for ‘Brownie’, he’s going really well so we’ll see what we can do for him to get the win."

50km remaining from 138km

I was wrong (not for the first time in my life) about the big teams' desire to catch the break earlier than expected, as the time gap has bumped back up to 2:07 as a few mechanicals have held back the likes of HTC-Highroad and Garmin-Cervelo...

An 'Up the Ming' update for you, folks... Several readers have written in and suggested some variations on our theme for today, including a reference to the Ming Dynasty! Well, ol' Miguel could be setting himself up for greatness with that kind of rap. Other suggestions tend to swerve into the seedier side of life so we'll leave them to your imagination.

42km remaining from 138km

With an expected hour's worth of racing left in today's stage, the likes of HTC-Highroad and Team Sky have figured they better get a wriggle on and have knocked the time gap down to 1:36 as Tanunda is revisited by the Tour Down Under.

Speaking of Tanunda, the home of Jacob's Creek wines is a regular host for Tour Down Under stages. It's an attractive town in the Barossa Valley that is considered the 'heart' of the wine-making region. Karl Menzies won a stage of the race there in 2007, the year before it became a ProTour event.

39km remaining from 138km

With the second finishing lap well underway, the time gap is around 1:40 with about 40 clicks until the finish...

38km remaining from 138km

And that time gap has just been pegged back further, now sitting at 1:23

37km remaining from 138km

Ouch! Time to light the wick as the gap has nudged down to 1:15... Hold onto your hats folks, the ride is about to get fully hectic!

We've had a request about Movistar's Angel Madrazo's whereabouts in the peloton from one of our readers...

As far as my sources tell me he was last seen refusing an attempt by a Tanunda local to hand him a bottle of Jacob's Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir... Personally I'd be asking for a Semillon Sauvignon Blanc as I'm not a fan of the bubbles.

36km remaining from 138km

Giddy up! Another five seconds have been knocked off the break's advantage, which now sits at 1:10. We may see the race come together in the next 20km before some desperate kamikaze attempts at victory by those with a penchant for destruction... look out for Jack Bobridge, ladies and gentlemen!

So, a little bit more about the finishing kilometres today, as the break passes through the finish line for the second time with an advantage of 50 seconds: It's a relatively testing final passage to the finish line which will suit Matt Goss, although look out for Tyler Farrar, who is a tough cookie when it comes to those types of finishes.

30km remaining from 138km

The gap is down to 47 seconds with 30km left to race...

Simon Clarke (Astana) and Miguel Minguez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) have attacked the break! Come on the Ming!!!

Meanwhile the remaining riders from the break have sat up and are waiting for the peloton

28km remaining from 138km

You can guarantee the remainder of this second finishing lap and the run through Tanunda for the final time will be a little chaotic, with riders looking to make their mark by launching a late-stage sortie. Clarke and Minguez have one minute's advantage over the peloton

Time's up for Mitch Docker, Mathieu Perget and Jon Izaguirre, as they are absorbed by the peloton...

Clarke and Minguez's bid for glory has them with an advantage of 1:12... Where there's life, there's hope, and this duo is keeping the faith!

23km remaining from 138km

But sometimes hope ain't enough to win you bike races, as the gap to the leading duo has decreased to 45 seconds

As the gap to Simon Clarke and Miguel Minguez continues to nosedive, the sprinters' teams of Sky, HTC-Highroad and Garmin-Cervelo are gathering at the front ready to take their respective men through Nuriootpa to Angaston...

Simon Clarke is the day's most aggressive rider - well done, Clarkey... A great start to life as a ProTour rider and a jeresy he's capable of holding onto for the rest of the event

18km remaining from 138km

With less than 20km left to race, the gap is at 21 seconds - expect to see Simon Clarke back in the peloton soon as he has wrapped up the most aggressive rider award for today, so mission accomplished for the Astana rider

Sky's train will be hampered slightly as Mick Rogers has to stop for a new back wheel

9km remaining from 138km

The race is all back together...

8km remaining from 138km

Julian Dean (Garmin-Cervelo) is back in the peloton after a puncture... He'll be vital in his team's leadout train, for sure.

5km remaining from 138km

OK folks, we're down to the final five kilometres of the stage - let the fireworks begin as the peloton is all together!

3km remaining from 138km

Omega Pharma-Lotto and HTC-Highroad are controlling the peloton with three clicks until the finish

2km remaining from 138km

Two kilometres to the finish and it's chaotic on the run to Angaston... Who's it going to be?

1km remaining from 138km

Inside the final kilometre now... HTC-Highroad and Team Sky calling the shots

And it's Matthew Goss who gets the win in Angaston, taking out stage one of the 2011 Santos Tour Down Under

Well done to Team HTC-Highroad, with Matthew Goss winning his first-ever stage of the Tour Down Under. He'll now take the ochre leader's jersey into stage two, which begins in Tailem Bend tomorrow for a run to Mannum, on the Murray River.

Unofficial top three results:

1 Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad)
2 Andre Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto)
3 Robbie McEwen (Team Radioshack)

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