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Live coverage

Santos Tour Down Under 2013: Stage 1

Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Santos Tour Down Under. Today marks the official start to the 2013 WorldTour season with Stage 1 from Prospect to Lobethal. I'm Alex Malone and I will be calling the race as the riders cover the lumpy 135km route. Get involved in the conversation by using the hashtag #cntdu on Twitter or tweet to me @alexjmalone. Coverage will begin just before the start of today's stage.

Goodmorning and welcome to live coverage of Stage 1 at the Santos Tour Down Under. All the riders have signed on and we are just a few minutes away from the start.

The riders will have a short 5.4km neutral race start before the flag is dropped.

 

Today's stage to Lobethal features one KOM and three intermediate sprints. The first real heart-starter is the short and sharp climb of Checker Hill. Stuart O'Grady (Orica GreenEdge) gave his opinion of the climb earlier in the week and said "It never gets any easier". 

 

 You can read O'Grady's stage preview here.

Looking at the strength of the Lotto Belisol train during the People's Choice Classic makes their sprinter Andre Greipel a huge favourite for today. A number of the riders were wearing skinsuits at the start.

 

There's less than 2 minutes remaining for the start and all the riders are getting themselves on the start line. It will be a nervous wait for many of the riders this morning.

 

It's expected to reach a top of 29 degrees today however, the harsh Adelaide sun and clear blues skies will make it difficult for some of the riders coming from colder climates.

 

The bunch has rolled out for the start of a 5.4km neutral. Once the flag is dropped the attacks will come thick and fast.

 

It's not a flat run to the first KOM point. The race route heads uphill for the first 20km. This will suit those riders looking to enter the early breakaway.

 

Speaking of early breakaway, what's the bet a rider from UniSA attacks once the flag is dropped?

 

UniSA's Zak Dempster went away with Jens Voigt on the opening lap of the warm-up criterium so perhaps it's someone else who will be given the nod.

 

Orica GreenEdge are using their sponsored Suburu vehicle and forgot to install a race radio. They are trying to figure something out while on the road.

 

The Australian ProTeam has the benefit of being the 'home team' while the remaining teams are using the race vehicles - supplied by Skoda.

 

The bunch is still cruising through the neutral zone as a number of team cars have already been called to the back of the bunch.

 

The race has officially started with 132 riders. The bunch is missing Garmin Sharp's Rohan Dennis. Dennis has been diagnosed with a viral infection and had already missed the criterium.

 

A break of three has attacked the bunch with four more riders in pursuit. Numbers coming...

 

The bunch is all back together as the pace has really increased. 

 

Jordan Kerby (UniSA) has attacked the peloton. He's currently out there on his own.

 

Kerby is coming into the race with excellent condition having just won the U-23 Australian national road race championships.

 

The young Queenslander also took out the opening prologue at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour. He had planned to fly to Europe shortly after the championships but TDU changed all of that.

 

Kerby remains out front solo and is being followed by Shimano neutral service. His gap has extended to over 50 seconds. There has been no reaction from the bunch yet. 

 

Race officials are being generous today as the expected temperature will reach approximately 30 degrees. Feeding from the cars will begin at 20km and finish just 10km from the end of the stage.

 

Kerby has really pushed his lead in the first few kilometres. He is nearly 3 minutes ahead of the bunch with less than 10km covered. It looks like he could be out on his own for a while.

Wondering who is Jordan Kerby? He will be out front for quite at while at this rate so read about his early part of the year and how his spot in the UniSA team for Down Under has confirmed his talent to the world.

 

Kerby will a short section of downhill soon before heading back up over the next 10km. The first 20km are really a slow drag uphill, climbing approximately 400m.

 

Kerby signed for the Danish registered Christina Watches-Onfone team in late 2012 and will join his new teammates after Tour Down Under.

 

Kerby should easily make it to the first KOM point at Checker Hill as his time gap to the main peloton has blown out to nearly 5 minutes.

 

He's asked for his team car to come up, probably for some advice from team director Dave Sanders. It's a long way to the finish but Kerby may aim to get the first and only KOM points of the day and then wait for the peloton.

 

To wear the KOM leader's jersey in tomorrow's stage would be another great achievement for the Kerby.

 

Kerby is definitely pushing hard. His lead has been extended to over 7 minutes now.

 

Lotto Belisol and Argos-Shimano are controlling the head of the peloton and area allowing Kerby plenty of time off the front. They may give a few more minutes before starting to wind him back in.

 

Well, it seems I was wrong. The gap has already started to come down slightly but they won't want to catch him until much later. It looks to be a perfect day for the sprinters. Andre Greipel and Marcel Kittel are not the only riders to be in with a serious chance today. 

 

Who's your pick for the stage today? Use #cntdu on Twitter and send me your bets.

 

Kerby has just gone passed and is on his way to the KOM at Checker Hill. He was a picture of concentration as he pedaled hard on a downhill stretch.

 

Kerby is now just 5km away from the KOM at Checker Hill. He will make it to the top easily now. Lotto Belisol and Argos-Shimano are still on the front and were making good use of the downhill run, moving at a significantly higher speed than the race leader Kerby.

We are having a few connection issues but Kerby will take maximum points at Checker Hill. He's still got nearly 5 minutes approaching the 1km to go mark.

 

Kerby takes the points and moves into the KOM lead. He'll pull on the KOM jersey at the end of today's stage.

 

Jack Bobridge (Blanco) has attacked the bunch. He would be looking to put pressure on the Lotto and Argos riders.

 

The results from the KOM at Checker Hill: Kerby, Bobridge, Manuele Boaro (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Graeme Brown (Blanco).

 

Argos-Shimano have taken the helm at the front of the race. Let's hope they have learnt from their mistakes during the People's Choice Classic. The finish should should Kittel today.

 

Australian road champion Luke Durbridge (Orica GreenEdge) and Argos recruit Will Clarke are setting tempo on the front of the bunch.

 

Kerby is starting to show signs of fatigue and would have been informed the bunch is closing in. He will be happy to keep chugging along until he is eventually caught.

 

We're sorry - there was difficulty with the internet service at the race, so we were unable to complete our live coverage. We hope to get this ironed out for tomorrow's stage 2.

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