10th Tour Down Under - ProT
Australia, January 20-27, 2008
Results & report
Prologue - Sunday, January 20: Down Under Classic (Glenelg circuit), 50km
Complete live report
Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of the Tour Down Under Classic, the
precursor to Australia's largest stage race, which will, for this first time
in 2008, be the opening round of this seasons' ProTour. The peloton is slated
for a 7 PM start (CDT) for this evening's event.
This evening's criterium will once again be held in the beach-side suburb of
Glenelg, where riders will tackle some 25 laps of the completely flat circuit.
Meanwhile, South Australian Premier Mike Rann has just completed a lap of honour
of the circuit with famed cyclist Miguel Indurain, who is being honoured at
this year's event.
The atmosphere in Glenelg has been electric on this glorious Sunday afternoon.
The riders have been hanging around the circuit for around two hours, since
the event's presentation commenced at 4 PM local time.
The peloton is away for the first of 25 laps and Rabobank's Bram De Groot has
already pulled out a few hundred metres on his rivals.
There are hundreds of fans gathered around Cyclingnews' commentary position
on Sussex Street, one of five straights that make up this circuit. Among those
fans is one group ringing a cow bell in support of the riders, while directly
across the road a younger group of supporters have their own DJ helping them
get in to mood.
With the flat profile of today's stage, you can expect the sprinters to once
again prevail. If recent history is anything to go by, the day's winner will
most likely be an Australian. The last foreign rider to claim the opening stage
victory at Adelaide's Tour Down Under was Dutch rider Koos Moerenhout in 2000.
19:03 CST 2km/48km to go
Rabobank's Bram De Groot continues to lead by some three hundred metres by himself,
with the main bunch led by Simon Gerrans (Credit Agricole).
The first of four sprints on today's stage will take place at the end of lap
five, with another sprint every five laps thereafter.
Since Moerenhout's victory for the Farm Frites squad eight years ago there have
only been a few names atop the opening stage's podium. Those few names, however,
represent Australia's finest sprinters – with Robbie McEwen, Baden Cooke, Mark
Renshaw and Graeme Brown the only riders to claim the stage during that period.
While Cooke isn't contesting this year's event, the other three opening stage
winners will be bringing their A-game and will be out to take the first blow
on home soil. While Queensland's McEwen admitted to not being in top form during
a press conference earlier today, the Silence-Lotto rider's track record at
the South Australian event speaks for itself – he's won three of the last four
opening stages and has won more Tour Down Under stages than any of his rivals.
19:06 CST 4km/46km to go
The peloton is back together after the second lap, after it took back the time
from Rabobank's Bram De Groot.
The young supporters have helped get riders in the spirit for this special 10th
Anniversary Tour Down Under, with the group's signs prompting the crew from
Lampre-Fondital to pull aside for five minutes on their parade lap. Several
other teams had been presented and passed the Italian squad, while the riders
and gathered fans chanted Viva Italia – we suspect the local youngsters new
little else of the Italian language.
The blue and pink kitted team clearly enjoyed the atmosphere, with Paolo Fornaciari
and Massimiliano Mori returning to share some more stories – and a cold beverage
– with the crew about an hour prior to the stage's start.
19:09 CST 6km/44km to go
The bunch is strung out after three laps, with the pace clearly starting to
increase. Jose Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Caisse D'Epargne) and Koen De Kort (Astana)
currently lead the bunch.
19:11 CST 8km/42km to go
Simon Clarke (Unisa - Australia) has broken off the front of the bunch and is
some 200 metres ahead. The rider leads from a group of two, Erki Putsep (Bouygues
Telecom) and Christophe Mengin (Francaise Des Jeux), with the rest of the peloton
just a few metres behind.
19:14 CST 1010km/-960km to go
Christophe Mengin (Francaise Des Jeux) has claimed the first sprint points in
a photo finish with Erki Putsep (Bouygues Telecom) while Adam Hansen (Team High
Road) took third spot. The duo are off the front, with riders in the peloton
pushing hard to ensure they maintain a reasonable margin.
19:17 CST 12km/38km to go
Yoann Offredo (Francaise Des Jeux) was leading the peloton with 19 laps to go,
however Scott Davis (Team High Road) has attacked down the outside of the peloton.
There were several non-starters for this evening's race. Greg Henderson (Team
High Road), Kevin Van Impe (Quick Step), Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas) and Arkaitz
Duran Daroca (Saunier Duval-Scott) are all absent from the stage.
19:19 CST 14km/36km to go
William Walker (Rabobank) now leads the strung out peloton.
While Baden Cooke isn't contesting this year's event, the other three opening
stage winners will be bringing their A-game and will be out to take the first
blow on home soil. While Queensland's McEwen admitted to not being in top form
during a press conference earlier today, the Silence-Lotto rider's track record
at the South Australian event speaks for itself – he's won three of the last
four opening stages and has won more Tour Down Under stages than any of his
19:23 CST 16km/34km to go
Graeme Brown (Rabobank) and Bernhard Eisel (Team High Road) have taken a few
hundred metres on the peloton, led by local rider Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC).
The riders will vie for more sprint points on the next lap.
Another rider in contention for this evening's stage, and will be a player in
all of the sprint stages throughout the 2008 event is the Australian National
Team's Allan Davis. The former Discovery Channel rider, who doesn't currently
hold a professional contract for 2008, is in strong form after winning this
month's Jayco Bay Cycling Classic in Melbourne.
Davis also lines up for tonight's race as the only rider to contest all 10 editions
of the Tour Down Under and the Queenslander might just be seeking a special
victory to mark the occasion.
19:25 CST 18km/32km to go
The bell has been rung and Matthew Wilson (Unisa - Australia) has pulled a margin
over Philippe Gilbert (Francaise Des Jeux) and Adam Hansen (Team High Road),
with the peloton a few metres back.
A nine rider group is away as riders search for points in the second sprint.
19:28 CST 20km/30km to go
Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner) has claimed the second lot of sprint points
on offer, with the rider nipping Adam Hansen (High Road), while Philippe Gilbert
(Francaise Des Jeux) claimed third.
The majority of the ProTour teams in tonight's criterium have been in Australia
for around 10 days – allowing the mainly European riders to acclimatize to the
hot and humid conditions in South Australia. As a representation of the difference
in temperatures these riders are facing, last year's Tour Down Under champion
Martin Elmiger told Cyclingnews there was a 40 degree Celsius difference
between the temperature in Adelaide on his arrival and his homeland of Switzerland.
19:31 CST 22km/28km to go
Xavier Florencio Cabre (Bouygues Telecom) and Nicolas Portal (Caisse D'Epargne)
are clearly working together on a two man break, but Rabobank doesn't seem to
want anyone down the road just yet. The Dutch Rabobank squad has its riders
drilling hard at the front of the peloton to chase the move down, possibly to
keep its sprinter Graeme Brown in contention for the final sprint.
19:34 CST 24km/26km to go
The Rabobank riders had brought back the two escapees but now face another charge
from Caisse D'Epargne's Jose Ivan Gutierrez Palacios and Nicolas Portal. The
Dutch squad is covering any move the Spanish outfit can try, with four of its
riders covering the moves out front.
19:36 CST 26km/24km to go
The attacking riders are clearly wearing away at the Rabobank line-up, with
Mickael Delage (Francaise Des Jeux) now 150 metres off the front. Only two Rabobank
riders remain out-front driving the chase.
Simon Clarke (Unisa - Australia), a SouthAustralia.com-AIS rider, has started
moving up the order - clearly getting ready to contest for the next sprint points
on lap 15.
19:39 CST 28km/22km to go
As riders greet another bell lap, Rabobank has control of the race again with
three of its riders at the front of the peloton. Graeme Brown (Rabobank) was
clearly giving instruction to his team-mates.
19:42 CST 30km/20km to go
Jose Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Caisse D'Epargne) claimed the third lot of sprint
points from Igor Astarloa Ascasibar (Team Milram) and Allan Johansen (Team CSC).
Rabobank has resumed its control of the peloton as the race enters its final
19:44 CST 32km/18km to go
Rabobank is continuing its dominance, with six of its riders out front as Laszlo
Bodrogi (Credit Agricole) powers up the outside.
While Silence-Lotto's McEwen said earlier today that he isn't expecting to come
into form until the end of this year's race, the Queenslander said his squad
would be looking to put Matthew Lloyd in contention for the general classification.
Lloyd is in great form, with the newly crowned Australian National Road Champion
sporting his new white, green and gold Silence-Lotto kit for the first time
today, after it was made in Europe and express mailed to Australia during the
19:48 CST 34km/16km to go
Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole) holds a narrow hundred metre lead, but his
time off the front seems it will soon come to an end, with Rabobank's seventh
and final rider moving to the front to further consolidate its stranglehold
on the race.
19:50 CST 36km/12km to go
Joan Horrach Rippoll (Caisse D'Epargne) and Scott Davis (Team High Road) now
lead the peloton, but all seven of Rabobank's riders are right behind the pair.
19:53 CST 38km/12km to go
Rabobank's seven strong effort at the front of the peloton are using up all
of the road as the race approaches the final sprint points lap. Team High Road,
Astana and Caisse D'Epargne all have two riders in behind the Dutch squad, but
simply can't find a way past.
19:57 CST 40km/10km to go
Julien Mazet (Astana) has made his way into the Rabobank riders at the front
of the peloton after the final sprint points were awarded where Andre Greipel
(Team High Road) took the top points from Jose Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Caisse
D'Epargne) and Marcus Burghardt (Team High Road) took third.
19:59 CST 42km/8km to go
Rabobank is clearly after the stage victory for Sydney-sider Graeme Brown. The
Dutch squad continues to take no chances with just four laps to go, as all seven
of its riders continue to hold strong at the front of the strung-out peloton.
20:02 CST 44km/6km to go
Rabobank's reign continues, but a certain Queenslander by the name of McEwen
is sneaking up the outside of the peloton. Former Discovery Channel rider Allan
Davis (Unisa - Australia) is also making his way toward the front, hinting that
Australia's sprint kings will go head-to-head in three laps time.
20:04 CST 46km/4km to go
Xavier Florencio Cabre (Bouygues Telecom) and Jerome Pineau (Bouygues Telecom)
have broken Rabobank's strangle hold as McEwen continues to move up the order.
Australian born Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner) is moving up to the front as
Yoann Offredo (Francaise Des Jeux) has crashed.
20:07 CST 48km/2km to go
Bernhard Eisel (Team High Road) is at the front, closely shadowed by Matthew
Wilson (Unisa - Australia). The sprinters are all gathering behind Rabobank's
crew with just one lap remaining.
Last year's opening stage winner Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole) is going head
to head with Graeme Brown (Rabobank).
20:10 CST 50km/0km to go
Andre Greipel (Team High Road) has won from last year's opening stage winner
Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole).
Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto) has taken third place from Allan Davis (Unisa
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