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Tour Down Under 2017: People's Choice Classic

Hello and welcome to our live coverage from the People's Choice Classic, the lead up event to the Tour Down Under.

 

 Welcome to Adelaide, Australia for the first live coverage of 2017. We're here for the precursor to the Tour Down Under, the People Choice Classic. As in previous years it's a city crit, with a total distance of 50.6km. The official start time is around 45 minutes from now and we'll have complete action from the race so sit back and enjoy. 

The crowds are starting to gather as the temperatures cool ahead of the race. We've the women's crit going on right now and we'll bring you results from that as soon as the race finishes. The men, meanwhile, are starting to arrive. It's just a short ride down from the race HQ for them but they'll be itching to go after the off season and blow away some cobwebs. 

 

You can find the official start list, right here and it's dominated by strong WorldTour teams and of course the World Champion, Peter Sagan, who is making his 2017 debut in the race.

 

Sagan has played down his chances in the last few day and in Sam Bennett the team have a very capable sprinter. It will be interesting to see how they take the battle to Caleb Ewan and Orica Scott today. 

 

I know the @Ride_Argyle guys are pumped for this one. Should be an exciting leg opener #TDU. @rusty_woods should take a flyer with 1 to go

@Tomashuuns Sun, 15th Jan 2017 07:54:58

And news just in Kirsten Wild has won the women's race. Amanda Spratt has done enough to retain the overall lead in the race. 

 

Let's go! @tourdownunder https://t.co/fQbfOpriYs

@RGUpdate Sun, 15th Jan 2017 07:53:25

Criteriums aren't really Robert Gesink's bread and butter but he's excited, according to the Twitters, and who are we to doubt the Dutchman. The LottoNL rider has a couple of stages that will suit him later on in the race but the LottoNL team don't really have a pure sprinter for today. 

 

Lots of teams and riders taking to Twitter to say how excited they are to be racing. I'm expecting the same level of enthusiasm for the Tour of Guangxi in October. 

 

Before the race starts this evening, don't forget that you can vote for your favourite WorldTour team kit of 2017. One lucky winner will take home a signed rainbow jersey from Peter Sagan. 

 

You can, you will, vote right here

 

 

The men are now on the circuit and testing out the course. It's a crit, so think Nascar but on bikes so a left turn, some straight and then another left turn. They've changed the finish from last year actually but it's still essentially your typical criterium. Times tonight do not count when it comes to the Tour Down Under. 

 

So Ewan won here last year and he's in decent form. He'll be linking up with new teammate and leadout man Klugge, who only recently arrived in Australia after winning the Rotterdam Six-Day. Ewan is overwhelming favourite but he won't have it all his own way. 

 

BMC have a strong team here but they lack a pure sprinter. In Porte, Dennis and recently crowned national champion, Miles Scotson, or Scott Milson as I've just realised I've been calling him all week, they have capable core but their race really starts on stage 2 of the TDU. Dennis has won the GC here before and Porte is desperate to take the crown after a number of podium finishes.  

 

Team Sky won their first ever race here back in 2010 and they're here this year Danny von Poppel. Word is that one or two of their riders are a little under the weather but as a team they've been in Australia for a number of weeks training. They'll feature both today, and during the TDU, that's for sure.

 

Former Team Sky rider Ben Swift is another contender for today, and the rest of the week when it comes to stage wins. He's won stages in the TDU before and he'll want to impress his new team on his first outing. We spoke to him a few days ago in our CN podcast. You can listen in, right here

 

News in from our man on the start is that Doull has not signed on for Team Sky. He has been suffering with illness for the last few days and Team Sky don't want to take any risks. Ian Stannard was ill but he's starting tonight. The start takes place in around 15 minutes from now.

 

#TDU: Final meeting ahead of the People's Choice Classic. @CalebEwan looking relaxed in his Aussie champs kit. https://t.co/0uCFLGFLzT

@OricaScott Sun, 15th Jan 2017 08:30:31

Breschel is another non-starter. We spoke to him yesterday actually. He's moved to Astana on a one year deal after a poor season at Cannondale. Here's what he told us on Saturday. 

"I loved it there but I was sick for most of the Classics. Then I came back but crashed out of the Tour. I managed to come back for a few Italian races and then the Worlds but didn’t really perform there. It was a bad season.

"I wanted to stay but it’s all part of the game. I had a shit season and just had to seek another opportunity."
 

 

No disc brakes for Sagan in case you were wondering. 

Less than ten minutes to go until the start of the race. 

 

Riders are starting to line up now, and there's a little bit of tension. Some of these guys, Porte for example, haven't raced since August last year. 

 

The build up is almost over. This is nearly as exciting as yesterday when they brought some Australian wildlife into the start village. There was a koala, a snake and one of the members of Savage Garden. You could hold the snake and pet the bear but not the member of Savage Garden. Apparently they're a little twitchy. 

 

And we are off. We're on lap 1 of the 22 laps. Each one is 2.3km long. We;re already seeing attacks from the front. 

 

Haas is out in front and he's marked by Hansen. They're both caught but Haas, a contender for the GC next week, goes again. t doesn't stick and we're all back together.

 

This time the Dimension Data rider gets some air and creates a gap of around two seconds. Lotto Soudal are leading the chase though as we complete the first lap. 

 

All back together but the peloton have already strung out as we see a few more attacks off the front. Lotto, Sky and Dimension Data are very active. Now a rider from Bahrain has tried his luck. At the very back we have Lachlan Morton. He's another contender for GC later in the week. 

 

Cannondale, Katusha and FDJ are all trying to snap the elastic but the peloton are reforming again as we start lap 3 of 22. 

 

UAE are the next to go but each move is shut down almost right away. Dimension Data go again, and this time it's O'Connor with a Cannondale rider chasing him down. 

 

O' Connor is caught  by the Cannondale rider as FDJ try and set up a counter attack. It's Clarke for Cannondale as the pair trade turns. They're already putting time into the peloton, who have really eased off. That's brought Orica into the frame, and they move up and set the pace. 

 

The leaders have 15 seconds as they start the 5th lap. They keep looking around but that's not the best tactic as now is the chance to extend their advantage. 

 

#GreenArgyle at the front of the bike race! That's @clarkeywilbur in a two-rider breakaway at #TDU People's Choice… https://t.co/CUGXHBkXAg

@Ride_Argyle Sun, 15th Jan 2017 08:56:42

The two leaders share a few words as they fight for the first intermediate sprint. Clarke takes that one and then sits up. 

 

So O'Connor continues to lead the race but he'd really hope for some company. He's nestles over the drops and sweeps around a left hand corner before easing out of the saddle to keep the pace up. Clarke has now been caught by Maison. The bunch are at about 20 seconds. 6/22 laps

 

O'Connor has 40 seconds as he starts lap 7 of the 22. The second pair on the road have now been caught, leaving us with just one lone leader.

 

Orica Scott continue to set the pace at the front of the peloton as we start lap 8 of the race. The Dimension Data rider still leads, and looks relatively comfortable. 

 

Bak attacks and Haas jumps over to him and marks the move. Haas is maturing nicely as a pro. This year he's going to win a major race. 

 

Bak continues to plough on, even though Haas is just sitting on his back wheel. Interesting tactic as Lotto are perhaps thinking about tiring out Haas ahead of the sprint lead out.

 

And Astana start to move up and chase the breaks. 

 

And now the bunch kick back into life on lap 9 with Astana attacking. 

 

The gap to O'Connor is 30 seconds as Orica move back to the front and just try and settle the pace down. 

 

Sagan posts a man on the front of the bunch with 11 laps completed. O'Connor takes out the second intermediate sprint as Sagan watches on from around 15th wheel. 

 

A few more teams are starting to organise themselves on the front. Data, UAE, Sunweb are all involved as Chaves and Orica also hit the front. The little climber simply wants to keep out of trouble today.

 

22 seconds for O'Connor now as we start lap 13. 

 

#TDU: Ten laps to go. There's a solo rider ahead of the peloton but the they look motivated to catch him.

@OricaScott Sun, 15th Jan 2017 09:23:14

Don't forget you can download the latest CN podcast. It features Swift, Sagan and Matt White. It's right here.

 

No spoilers but here's our report from the women's race today. It was a wild one out there. A really wild race. Wild. 

 

#TDU @ben_oconnor95 is just 20" ahead of the peloton on lap 13/22.

@TeamDiData Sun, 15th Jan 2017 09:25:56

Haas continues to patrol the front of the bunch as he looks to slow down the chase. The gap is holding at around 20 seconds as O'Connor continues to ride on alone. 

 

Seven laps to go as O'Connnor holds about 30 seconds. Katusha are starting to make their presence felt at the head of the race.

 

Trek Segafredo, working for Thuens are starting to get involved but here from Orica with 6 laps to go. Now the chase is becoming more intense and it's a real test for O'Connor in terms of how much longer he can hold on. 

 

Lap 14/22: Ben O'Connor @TeamDiData now leads by 14 seconds! #TDU

@SantosTDU_Live Sun, 15th Jan 2017 09:28:46

Orica are taking more and more control as Ewan sits just off the tail of the train. It's Gerrans on the front, the former four time winner of the TDU, on the front. 

 

The gap is down to 15 seconds as we enter the final 4 laps. De Kort is leading Theuns to the front as O'Connor starts to tighten up.

 

It's all over for the Dimension Data rider with Sunweb moving to the front. Job done for the young rider. 

 

Chaves is back on the front as Orica take the right, Sunweb the left and Cannondale the centre. 

 

As Geraint Thomas takes his team to the front with Rowe and van Poppel. Just over  two laps to go now. 

 

Stannard takes over from Thomas on the front of the bunch as Di Date, UAE and Trek remain in the hunt. Two laps remaining. 

 

Bora are just waiting, huddled around Sagan as we start the penultimate lap. 

 

And Katusha lead the peloton but here come Orica and Team Sky. No one team can take control as we head into the final mile of racing. 

 

It's starting to become more and more frantic on the front as a number of teams look to gain control. This is going to be quite a technical sprint with so many possible leadouts as we start the last lap. 

Bora are going to lead out Sagan or Bennett here. 

Bennett is on Sagan's wheel as Sky lose their form, they swing around the corner as Bora lead. 

 

They hit the final corner as Sagan looks for Bennett.

 

Orica lead out.

 

Ewan tucked in.

 

Ewan is coming around his leadout but Sagan and Bennett are both there to take him on.

 

And Ewan takes it. He simply had the best leadout there and then the speed to take it home. Sagan didn't takes third as Bennett comes back well to take second. The Irishman didnt have the best positioning there and seemed to lose Sagan in the final. So Ewan wins here again for the second year in a row.

 

An excellent lead out from Klugge, who only joined the team in the winter. He made a difference there but there's no doubting that the best sprinter won. 

 

#TDU: "First race together and he led me out perfectly" - @CalebEwan on @kluge_roger.

@OricaScott Sun, 15th Jan 2017 10:03:48

.@EdwardTheuns sprints to 5th place @SantosTDU_Live: "I am so happy I was there to fight for position. It feels goo… https://t.co/obITPvBJyJ

@TrekSegafredo Sun, 15th Jan 2017 10:06:04

Here's your top ten from the race:

 

1 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-Scott 01:03:41
2 Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
4 Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
5 Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
6 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Dimension Data
7 Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal
8 Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
9 Patrick Bevin (NZl) Cannondale-Drapac
10 Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team

 

Sagan, working for Bennett there, looked very comfortable indeed in that sprint. We'll see him shine later in the week, of that there's no doubt. 

 

Well done @ben_oconnor95 gutsy ride https://t.co/GVdAQBphcK

@dougryd Sun, 15th Jan 2017 10:22:23

We will have reactions and news soon but you can find our report, results and photos, right here.

 

Thanks for joining us today. We will be back on Tuesday with stage 1 of the Tour Down Under.

 

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