Greipel crushes competition in Lobethal

André Greipel has taken his second victory of the year in the opening stage of the Santos Tour Down Under. Greipel's Lotto Belisol team once again proved they have the depth and power in the lead-out to ensure no other team can compete in the bunch sprints. Flying under the red kite with a kilometre to go it was the Lotto Belisol team that still had the numbers. Greipel was in a league of his own when he opened his sprint and left Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Mark Renshaw (Blanco) in his wake to collect the minor placings.

It was Greipel's 12th stage victory at the Australian race and while this year's edition should prove too difficult for the German to capture a third overall title, he is undoubtedly the rider to beat for the bunch kicks. He does however, pull on the race leader's jersey for tomorrow's stage from Mount Barker to Rostrevor.

"We expected more attacks," Greipel said after the race. "The team did an awesome job again. It was hard to control and keep me up the front but the team did an awesome job."

Third-place Renshaw was content with his ride, thanking his team for helping to position him in the final kilometres.

André is probably the fastest sprinter here, so it's normal that they (Lotto-Belisol) take control," said Renshaw. "The sprint for us went well. I had (David) Tanner and (Maarten) Tjallingii looking after me with 20km to go.

"(Graeme) Brown took over with 2km to go. Behind Greipel, I lost a few spots over the top of the climb. I had to start too far back in the sprint and I think I moved from sixth or seventh to third. It's a good sprint and it's a big improvement from Sunday.

"I think I am capable of a win this week. I have a good team working for me, so I think it's realistic to try to win a stage. I am competitive. Today was a pretty tough sprint stage," said Renshaw.

The final result may have been dedicated to the sprinters but there was plenty of action that occurred during the 135km stage from Prospect to Lobethal. It began with the the attack of Jordan Kerby (UniSA-Australia) who departed the comfort of the peloton in the opening kilometres.

In some respects it was better for Kerby to go it alone as the bunch had little interest in tracking him down. The first and only KOM point at Checker Hill was a mere 41.9km from the race start and with a gap that grew to seven minutes, he was destined to pull on the KOM leader's jersey at the end of the day.

"At the start of my first WorldTour race, I was pretty excited," said Kerby. "UniSA always try to be aggressive at the Tour Down Under. It was great to have Dave Sanders (team manager) telling me from the car to not overdo it. Once I got seven minutes lead, I tried to ride tempo.

"Now I’m the king of the mountains," Kerby said. "But it’s a very big challenge to keep the jersey with what’s coming up. I’ll give it a try though!"

A number of the general classification contenders were not content on sitting back today as Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge), Thomas de Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Philippe Gilbert (BMC) all fought for bonus seconds at each of the intermediate sprints. With last year's race being won on a count-back in the favour of Gerrans, the world road race champion Gilbert was not willing to give any advantage to his rivals. The intermediate sprints on offer mean the three all sit within the top-10 leading into tomorrow's difficult stage into Rostrevor.

Kerby resistance was finally overthrown by a counter-move by Jérôme Pineau (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) shortly after the second intermediate sprint at 92.6km. Pineau's move signalled the end of Kerby's long day after 100km in front  and also brought the bunch into life. Pineau extended his lead to over a minute as the bunch passed through the start/finish line for the penultimate time but he too was ultimately caught by the speeding peloton.

Coming into the finish Lotto Belisol seemed set for the win and Greipel was simply too good for everyone. The powerful German had plenty of time to enjoy his victory as he crossed the line bike lengths ahead.

How it happened

It was a rapid start to the opening stage of the Santos Tour Down Under. The first round of the WorldTour would begin with a 135km route from Prospect to Lobethal under routinely warm conditions for Adelaide.

The peloton would be treated to one KOM and three intermediate sprints over the lumpy stage. The climb up Checker Hill is a regular feature of Tour Down Under and would be the first heart-starter of the day.

The bunch would pass through the finish line at the 83.7km point and would then tackle two full laps of the circuit before sprinting for the win.

Jordan Kerby (UniSA – Australia) was the first rider to establish a gap from the peloton and his lead quickly grew to a maximum lead of over 7 seven minutes. The first and only KOM of the day at Checker Hill was taken out by Kerby with the peloton nearly 3 minutes behind.

Jack Bobridge (Blanco) was the second rider over the top of the hill and attempted to use his impetus to form a counter-move. His move was quickly shut-down as Kerby's lead began to extend once again.

Kerby remained ahead of the main field as he crossed through the finish line at Lobethal for the first time. The Lotto Belisol and Argos-Shimano lead peloton were content to allow the UniSA maximum time off the front.

Jerome Pineau (Omega Pharma Quickstep) attacked from the bunch shortly after the second intermediate sprint and gained a 15-second gap very quickly, he was the only rider interested in hunting down the race leader Kerby.

The field failed to immediately react to the attack of Pineau and he used that hesitation to push on alone. He promptly caught the young Australian at the 105km mark.

Kerby got into the slipstream of Pineau but was quickly dropped as the road lead toward the finish banner at Lobethal – where the new leader and the peloton would be given the bell to signify the final lap.

Pineau would have to work extremely hard to maintain his one-minute lead as he passed through the finish line for the penultimate time. At the completion of the next loop, the rider who crossed the line would be crowned the day's winner and would pull on the race leader's jersey.

Pineau was caught right before the third intermediate sprint as world road race champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) passed him in the final metres. Gilbert had launched out of the bunch in anticipation of gaining a few bonus seconds.

Tour Down Under has historically been won and lost by a handful of seconds and the general classification contenders would be looking for every possible chance to steal some seconds.

At 10km to go Sky had come to the front and put the entire team into the line. Movistar were also riding hard as former Spanish time trial champion Ivan Gutierrez took over on the long ascent toward Lobethal with 8km remaining.

Movistar would be looking to bring Jose Joaquin Rojas across the finish in first place. Rojas has already proved himself at Down Under in past editions.

Ag2r La Mondiale sent a rider up the road in the form of Blel Kadri but would have his work cut out for him to survive the final 6km. He was caught with 5km to go as Ian Stannard (Sky) pulled the bunch along.

The short and difficult climbs proved too much for Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) as the pace and strength of Sky and Lotto Belisol was really on show. The two teams were going head-to-head trying to control the front but at the finish it was all Lotto Belisol riders who had to strength to up the pace further. The sprint was simply a formality for Greipel.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol3:35:24
2Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
3Mark Renshaw (Aus) Blanco
4Simone Ponzi (Ita) Astana
5Steele Von Hoff (Aus) Garmin Sharp
6Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
7Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre-Merida
8Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
9Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar
10Zakkary Dempster (Aus) UNI SA - Australia
11Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Saxo-Tinkoff
12Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Euskaltel Euskadi
13Antony Giacoppo (Aus) UNI SA - Australia
14Ion Izagirre (Spa) Euskaltel Euskadi
15Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Blanco
16Daryl Impey (RSA) ORICA GreenEdge
17Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM
18Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step
19Stefano Agostini (Ita) Cannondale
20Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling
21Ben Hermans (Bel) Radioshack Leopard
22Gert Steegmans (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step
23Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Euskaltel Euskadi
24Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Astana
25Gregory Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol
26Federico Canuti (Ita) Cannondale
27Arnaud Courteille (Fra) FDJ
28Simon Clarke (Aus) ORICA GreenEdge
29Bernard Sulzberger (Aus) UNI SA - Australia
30Javier Moreno Bazan (Spa) Movistar
31Juraj Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
32Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida
33Simon Gerrans (Aus) ORICA GreenEdge
34Mikaël Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
35David Tanner (Aus) Blanco
36Ivan Santaromita (Ita) BMC
37Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol
38Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana
39Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Belisol
40Mikel Astarloza (Spa) Euskaltel Euskadi
41Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Vacansoleil-DCM
42Tiago Machado (Por) Radioshack Leopard
43Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Procycling
44Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
45Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC
46Jermoe Pineau (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step
47Juan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Fra) Euskaltel Euskadi
48Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin Sharp
49George Bennett (NZl) Radioshack Leopard
50Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar
51Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ
52Jussi Veikkanen (Fra) FDJ
53Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) AG2R La Mondiale
54Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Spa) Euskaltel Euskadi
55Jose Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar
56Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin Sharp
57Stuart O'Grady (Aus) ORICA GreenEdge
58Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Blanco
59Laurent Didier (Lux) Radioshack Leopard
60Guillaume Bonnafond (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
61Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM
62Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step
63Jon Aberasturi (Spa) Euskaltel Euskadi
64Calvin Watson (Aus) UNI SA - Australia
65Manuele Boaro (Ita) Saxo-Tinkoff
66Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar
67Koen De Kort (Ned) Argos-Shimano
68Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
69Adam Phelan (Aus) UNI SA - Australia
70Amael Moinard (Fra) BMC
71Robert Hunter (RSA) Garmin Sharp
72Jesse Sergent (NZl) Radioshack Leopard
73Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC
74Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol
75Andrew Fenn (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step
76Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) BMC
77Chris Anker Sorensen (Den) Saxo-Tinkoff
78Damien Howson (Aus) UNI SA - Australia
79Timothy Duggan (USA) Saxo-Tinkoff
80Julian Kern (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale
81Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida
82Cristiano Salerno (Ita) Cannondale
83Yann Huguet (Fra) Argos-Shimano
84Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana
85Kenny Elissonde (Fra) FDJ
86Jens Voigt (Ger) Radioshack Leopard
87Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC
88Matthew Lloyd (Aus) Lampre-Merida
89Lachlan Morton (Aus) Garmin Sharp
90Jay McCarthy (Aus) Saxo-Tinkoff
91Jack Bobridge (Aus) Blanco
92Elia Favilli (Ita) Lampre-Merida0:00:16
93Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) ORICA GreenEdge