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Tour Down Under 2017: Stage 1

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the Tour Down Under Stage 1, the first race of the 2017 UCI WorldTour.

 

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Today's stage will take riders 145km from Unley to Lyndoch.

 

Just a few minutes now until the peloton rolls out for the first stage.

 

There are two changes to today's official start list.

For Team Sky, Kenny Elissonde of France will replace Owain Doull of Great Britain.

For Cannondale-Drapac, Thomas Scully of New Zealand will replace Brendan Canty of Australia.

 

We have a birthday boy in the peloton today. Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) is 27 years old. Cyclingnews editor Daniel Benson recently spoke with the Colombian who's got a 1,000-watt smile. You can read about Chaves here.

 

Our reporters on the ground say it's a hot one today in Unley. Local weather reports put the temperature at 34 (C) degrees. That's over 93 degrees fahrenheit. 

 

The peloton has left Unley.

 

Although today is the first WorldTour race of the 2017 season, these same riders started the season on Sunday at the People's Choice Classic, where Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) outsprinted the Bora-Hansgrohe duo of Sam Bennett and world champion Peter Sagan. Bennet was the team's sprinter on Sunday, but he confirmed the team will be riding for Sagan today.

 

Our Zeb Woodpower caught up with Sagan at the race start to find out what the world champion was thinking ahead of the stage.

 

"First of all, I wanted to make the sprint for Sam Bennett from our team because I am not feeling like I am in top condition and he did very good preparation well in the winter for this race," Sagan said. "I am also have to support the team, it is also good for me to support the team because you give something and after something can be given back. That is my mentality, and I am very happy how we did. We will see day by day what we can do."

 

There is a 10.7km neutral rollout today. The riders are taking their time in the heat. The racing will start soon enough. Dimension data's Nathan Haas has a wheel problem. He'll get that taken care of as the neutral is still in progress. Haas could definitely figure into today's finish.

 

This is the first time Sagan has started his season at the Tour Down Under since he was a neo-pro in 2006. The world champion told Cyclingnews that he's excited to be in Australia, although he could do without the extreme heat.

 

"It’s amazing. Am very happy to be here in Australia, it’s a very nice country, people and also I can do very good training, preparation, what is important for the start of the season.


"When I cam here it was around 30-40 degrees and I was changing everyday. The last day it is was colder, like 20-25, really good but now it is again 38 degrees. We will suffer a little bit but it is not very long stages here, which is good for us. Like I said, it is very good for preparation. It is always better to have hot than rain and cold or snow.

 

"Last year in doha was also 38-40 degrees and I was also in different condition. From the start of the season I try and get into condition. I think it is good to start the season here."

 

 

Today's stage profile:

 

 

Kenny Elissonde, who is replacing Owain Doull on the Team Sky roster, will be making his debut with the British outfit. he spoke with the the Tour Down Under about his sudden insertion into the race.

 

"I wasn't scheduled for the Santos Tour Down Under, but this is where I'm making my debut with Team Sky as a replacement for Owain Doull, who fell very sick two days ago," he said. 


"Since I was training in Brisbane with Chris Froome under Tim Kerrison, it was easy for me to fly to Adelaide. And I'm a climber. That's what Team Sky needed to help Sergio Henao, who has prepared this race for a long time.

 

"He deserves to have a full team around him as he always helps the team a lot. I've done the Santos Tour Down Under twice before with FDJ. I like this race and I'm happy to be here.

 

Racing is underway! Welcome to the 2017 UCI WorldTour.

 

As the profile indicates, a sprint finish is likely in Lyndoch, where temperatures are expected to be in the low 40s.

 

The first attack of the race comes from an Astana rider, Laurens De Vreese, a 28-year-old Belgian.

 

No one has joined De Vreese, and the peloton is not too concerned about a single escapee, so the Astana rider's gap has gone out to 2:10.

 

No one has joined De Vreese, and the peloton is not too concerned about a single escapee, so the Astana rider's gap has gone out to 2:10.

 

137km remaining from 145km

Orica-Scott and Katusha are presently on the front controlling the peloton. 

 

Today's stage has one KOM point and two intermediate sprints. The KOM comes first at 38.6km with the climb of Kersbrook Road. The sprints come on the finishing loop at 74.3km and 100.8km

 

Defending champion Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott) is one rider who won't be affected by the heat. The 36-year-old Australian said he hopes the weather can counteract the challenging parcours.

 

"For me, the hotter the better," he said. "I have had a fair bit of exposure to the hot weather so as uncomfortable as that might be for everyone, it does make the racing that bit tougher, so that's what I am aiming for."

 

Read more from Gerrans here.

 

129km remaining from 145km

De Vreese's gap continues to go out. He's got 4:45 on the peloton now.

 

The four-stage Santos Women's Tour started on January 14, and after three stages Orica-Scott's Amanda Spratt is poised to take the win. 

 

Read more about Spratt here.

 

Some bad news for cycling today, as organisers of La Mediterraneenne had to cancel the race for 2017.

You can read more here.

 

Our team in Australia was on hand for the People's Choice Classic on Sunday. You can listen to their thoughts on that race another topics in our latest podcast.

 

 

Orica-Scott has five riders on the front now, and De Vreese's gap is down to four minutes.

 

De Vreese, who is currently in the first year of a two-year deal, has ridden with Astana since 2015. Before that he rode with Wanty-Groupe Gobert for a year and TopSport-Vlaanderen before that. He has no professional wins.

 

Orica-Scott is apparently serious about this chase, and the gap is down to 3:25

 

Curious about the bike Caleb Ewan used to beat Bora-Hansgrohe's Sam Bennett and Peter Sagan on Sunday?

Check out this look at his machine.

 

121km remaining from 145km

Gap to De Vreese is 3:10

 

And the gap has dropped again to 2:50. Will they pull De Vreese back all the way and let things reshuffle?

 

Ben Swift is a rider who could be in the running during today's finish. The British rider moved this year from team sky to the UAE Abu Dhabi team. Swift will be piloting a Colnago into Lyndoch. 

 

You can get a closer look at his bike here.

 

 

Lance Armstrong was back in the news today.

 

Read about his current training regimen here.

 

The race is reporting that the temperature in Adelaide has reached 38 (C). That's over 100 degrees Fahrenheit

 

The race is closing in on the first and only KOM of the day.

 

110km remaining from 145km

De Vreese's gap is now down to just 2:00

 

The spry Belgian is putting up a good fight. He's added a minute onto his gap. Back up to 3:00

 

De Vreese gets the first KOM point of the race as he's up and over the summit. The peloton is 2:30 back

 

The peloton is over the summit now as well. It's generally downhill to the first sprint now.

 

There's an attack from the bunch on the descent, with Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) Jan Bakelants (Ag2R La Mondiale) and Jhonatan Restrepo (Katusha-Alpecin) trying to get away.

 

KOM # 1 Results:

1. Laurens De Vreese (Astana)
2. Sander Armee (Lotto Soudal)
3. Jan Bakelants (Ag2R La Mondiale)

 

There's an attack from the bunch on the descent, with Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) Jan Bakelants (Ag2R La Mondiale) and Jhonatan Restrepo (Katusha-Alpecin) trying to get away.

 

100km remaining from 145km

The attack was for naught, as De Vreese remains alone in front of the bunch

 

Lukas Postlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) also got point at the first KOM, but De Vreese will wear the mountains jersey at the end of the day.

 

One rider who will be looking for a top result today is Nikias Arndt. We spoke to his Sunweb teammate Luke Roberts at the start about the team's plans today.

 

"Today will be an expected bunch sprint," he said. "It’s stinking hot, and quite a difficult stage with the two climbs up black top road and the humbug scrub. With the relatively flat finish, expected a nice bunch sprint so we will try to set up our guys to lead out Nikias and hope for a good result with him today."

 

98km remaining from 145km

De Vreese's gap has dropped significantly now, down to just 1:15.

 

Kiwi Jack Bauer is at the Tour Down Under with Quick-Step Floors, his new team after five years with the Garmin and Cannondale teams. The 31-year-old told Cyclingnews he's taking advantage of the early racing to get to know his teammates and help Petr Vakoc win.

 

"I’m here to support the guys we have here for GC, Petr Vakoc. It would be nice if could get up the road in a break or two, but we’re here more or less to support Petr Vakoc. He’s been here since before the new year, getting ready for the event, so it’s all guns blazing for him.

 

"There are many teams here with clear cut and potential winners. It’s nice to fly under the radar for a guy like Peter. The team has a lot of confidence in him.

 

"It’s my first year with Quick-Step floors, and I aim to do my job. We’ve had one training camp already and that was great. I got to see who things work. I was in the Slipstream organisation for five years so it was nice to have a change and try something new."

 

FDJ has sprinter Lorrenzo Manzin on hand for today's finish. Cyclingnews spoke with FDJ director Jussi Veikkanen about his chances in Lyndoch today.

 

"Lorrenzo is doing fine," Veikkanen said. "He has been looking forward to coming here. He had a good winter for training and so on so let’s see how it goes for him. We are not putting pressure on him but it is a stage that he knows.



"That will be something we haven’t experience so far. I think it is a day to be as economical as possible and go all the way to Lyndoch and then the real racing will start tomorrow."

 

90km remaining from 145km

The chasers are feathering the gap now, as it goes back out to 2:05

 

Orica has a rider on the front of the bunch trailed by a mass of Trek-Segafredo riders

 

55km remaining from 145km

De Vreese will be going through the finish line soon, then the race has three laps.

 

The official time gap on the time board says De Vreese's gap is 1:10.

 

Orica and Trek remain at the front of the peloton as it passes a large vineyard. Riders are looking rather relaxed considering the heat. The solo breakaway doesn't appear to be putting a lot of pressure on the chase.

 

The bunch is gutter to gutter now across a long, straight, flat stretch of road.

 

De Vreese has gone under the finish banner for the first time. 80km to go

 

The gap to De Vreese is 1:40. The peloton appears to be suffering in the heat. They're certainly not pushing the pace, maybe because temperatures on the road are reportedly 41 degrees (105 Fahrenheit)

 

Riders in front of the peloton are constantly drinking, while others are slipping back to the team cars to get more water. It's going to be a busy day for the soigneurs.

 

Australian Mark Renshaw will be freed by his Dimension Data team from normal duties leading out Mark Cavendish, who isn't in Australia this week. Instead, Renshaw will get an opportunity to take his own crack at the win. Teammate Tyler Farrar will lead out Renshaw. We spoke with Farrar this morning before the start.

 

"This is one of the true sprint stages," Farrar said. "It’s just today and the final stage. Renshaw was second on this stage last year so we’ll try and set him up as best I can. We have a climb-focused team here, but we will try and play off the sprint trains and I’ll give him all the help that I can."

 

The peloton fighting for bonus seconds now during the intermediate sprint. De Vreese got the maximum bonus, but they're really fighting for every second.

 

Looks like Nathan Haas (Dimension Data) was the second rider though.

 

It's just been announced that the race has been shortened by one lap, possibly because of the extreme heat.

 

De Vreese is coming back to the group now. He's just dangling off the front.

 

The race Twitter account is reporting that the decision to shorten the race was made by the race director, the chief commissaire and the riders' representative.

 

The course will now be 118km.

 

Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) is the riders' representative, and he was called to the commissaire's car before the decision to shorten the race was announced.

 

Riders will get the bell for the final lap the next time they go under the finish banner.

 

De Vreese continues to dangle in front of the peloton. He just had a conversation with his team car.

 

 

Sam Bennett confirmed earlier that Bora-Hansgrohe will be racing for Peter Sagan. We spoke with him about leading out the world champion.

 

"We’re hoping for a sprint and we’ll go with Peter as the finish is more suited to him. We’ll see how it goes.

"I’m pretty okay. I don’t want to make a mistake that costs anyone else and that makes me more nervous. This is my first time at leading him out and I don’t want to make mistake. We’ve done it in training before but I’ve never done it in a race before."

 

36km remaining from 145km

De Vreese continues alone out front as the peloton rolls along in the heat.

 

The peloton is starting to line out now as the sprinters teams have started to come to the fore. Movistar, Trek, FDJ doing work now.

 

They're single file now as the peloton approaches Lyndoch, where the riders will get the bell for one to go. De Vreese continues to soldier on alone off the front.

 

De Vreese continues to hang off the front with Orica leading the peloton into the final lap on the Lyndoch circuit.

 

Just over 25km to go and the peloton is going through the feed zone. They'll be picking up a lot of water for the final lap.

 

On a long, straight stretch of road, the peloton has De Vreese in sight once again, and they slowed down. 

 

The downhill run to the finish in Lyndoch guarantees a speedy finish, and at this point, with just one rider up the road, a bunch sprint looks certain. 

 

20km remaining from 145km

The peloton is closing in on De Vreese. Is his day off the front about to end? 

 

The bunch has really slowed again, covering the road from gutter to gutter. They won't take mercy on the poor Belgian up front and finally reel him back in.

 

De Vreese appears to be really struggling in the heat now. They're on him, and all official vehicles have move rout of the gap.

 

 

We're just a few kilometres from the final intermediate sprint and the important bonus seconds.

 

And Finally! De Vreese is back in the fold. Great day of riding by the Astana man.

 

Two Movistar riders have come to the front, along with several UAE Abu Dhabi riders for Ben Swift.

 

Zeb Woodpower spoke with Adam Hansen today about the possibility of a shortened race because of the heat. 

 

Read more about the shortened stage here.

 

The intermediate sprint is on and it's hard fought

 

 

Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) takes the sprint and a three-second time bonus.

 

Jan Bakelants (AG2R) has jumped away and built a small gap

 

16km remaining from 145km

The peloton doesn't appear too concerned about Bakelants as the riders climb a slight rise.

 

A Lotto Soudal rider has jumped away. It's Adam Hansen!

 

Hansen is the riders' union representative who was involved in the decision to shorten the stage.

 

Hansen is in time trial mode now trying to connect with Bakelants, who is looking over his shoulder.

 

10km remaining from 145km

Both Bakelants and Hansen, who haven't hooked up, are in sight of the peloton.

 

10km remaining from 145km

Both Bakelants and Hansen, who haven't hooked up, are in sight of the peloton.

 

A couple of tight right turns for the peloton as the riders bear down on the two up the road.

 

The peloton looks more serious now as the riders are lined out single file.

 

Bakelants is still powering on, but Hansen appears to be struggling as the peloton is right on him.

 

That's it for Hansen. Just Bakelants up the road now.

 

Luke Durbridge taking a huge dig now for Orica-Scott.

 

5km remaining from 145km

Bakelants is still hanging on. He's going to make it close.

 

The peloton is lined out and angry now.

 

Durbridge pulling the peloton along as Bakelants begins to look over his shoulder. He's just dangling in front of the bunch now.

 

Sunweb and Dimension Data battling for control of the peloton.

 

1km to go!

 

Ewan, Sagan are there.

 

Sagan is going!

 

Ewan on the right!!

 

It's a photo finish: Ewan or Bennett

 

Ewan gets it. Then Danny Van Poppel and Sam Bennett

 

Today's top 10:

1 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-Scott 03:24:18
2 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Team Sky
3 Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe
4 Marko Kump (Slo) Team UAE Abu Dhabi
5 Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
6 Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Sunweb
7 Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
8 Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
9 Miles Scotson (Aus) BMC Racing Team
10 Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal

 

General Classification after stage 1


1 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-Scott 03:24:18
2 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Team Sky 00:00:04
3 Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:06
4 Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:07
5 Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data 00:00:08
6 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-Scott 00:00:08
7 Jos Goncalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin 00:00:08
8 Marko Kump (Slo) Team UAE Abu Dhabi 00:00:10
9 Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:10
10 Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Sunweb 00:00:10

 

Tomorrow's stage is 148.5km from Stirling to Paracombe. The final climb should make for a very different result from stage 1. In his stage previews for Cyclingnews, Baden Cooke said the finish at Paracombe is solid, "but it's not out of reach for guys like Sagan, Simon Gerrans or Alejandro Valverde."

 

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