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10th Tour Down Under - ProT
Australia, January 20-27, 2008
Down Under Classic - Sunday, January 20: Glenelg circuit, 50km
Greipel grabs first victory
By Paul Verkuylen in Glenelg, South Australia
German rider Andre Greipel (Team High Road) has claimed his first victory of the 2008 season at the Down Under Classic in Adelaide, Australia. The High Road Sports rider outclassed some of Australia's top sprinters to claim victory in the 50 kilometre criterium held on the picturesque beachside circuit in Glenelg.
"That was a really long sprint, the last 50 meters were really hard, but I am happy," the German winner of two stages of the 2007 Sachsen Tour International explained after the race. "Rabobank had a bit of bad luck on the last corner so I tried to start my sprint, I thought 'OK now it's a head wind', but you have to be strong until the finish line.
"I am really happy, as the team is too," he added. "The sprints are why I am here; I started training early, so I am really happy to win the first race of the season."
Team High Road played a tactical game with Rabobank, waiting until it began to tire from its effort out front before moving to the front and positioning Greipel, who was nominated by the team before the race as the leader, at the head of the field. "I sat in the middle of the bunch the whole race, taking it easy before my team-mates brought me to the front," he explained.
Greipel out-sprinted a host of Australia's top sprinters to become the first non-Australian winner of this race since Dutchman Koos Moerenhout won back in 2000. Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole) and Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto), rounded out the podium.
The victory here, unfortunately for Greipel, doesn't count as the 25 year-old's first ProTour victory as the Down Under Classic is not officially part of the Tour Down Under. The victory does however sound a warning to his competitors that his form is good, and he will be a man to watch over the next week.
How it unfolded
Some 130 of the world's best riders began what would be for most of them, their first race of another season. From the gun Rabobank was intent on making an impact, as Bram De Groot (Rabobank) attacked shortly after the start and opened up an early lead to pass the finish line first after lap one of 25.
Just one lap later the Dutchman was reeled in by the fast chasing peloton, which seemed eager to keep the whole race together. With so many riders keen to test their legs for the first time in competition after months of hard training, the whole field was tightly packed and moving quickly. The pace kept the lap times down around the 2.40 minutes mark, which translates into an average speed of around 54km/h for each lap.
To keep the race interesting, organizers decided to throw in four intermediate sprints - one every 10 kilometers, before the final surge to the line. Just four laps into the event and it was Simon Clarke (UniSA-Australia), the recent winner of the Under 23 Australian Road Championship, who was seen escaping off the front. Clarke's escape wasn't to be, as those interested in claiming some of the primes along the way ramped up the speed as they received the bell for the first prime.
Christophe Mengin (Francaise Des Jeux) claimed the first sprint in front of the huge crowd assembled in the Adelaide surburb of Glenelg. The rider marginally won the sprint in a photo finish from Erki Putsep (Bouygues Telecom), with Australian Adam Hansen (Team High Road) taking third spot.
Leaving little time to rest for those who may have been struggling with the pace, it was once again Rabobank seen at the head of the field, this time with Graeme Brown who attacked with Bernhard Eisel (Team High Road). The pair gained a maximum lead of around 100 meters before a huge effort by the main field lead by Matthew Wilson (UniSA - Australia) brought them back into the fold.
By the time they reached the line, a lap later, it was Inverell-born German rider Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner) who took the second lot of points on offer from the in-form Adam Hansen (High Road) and classics specialist Philippe Gilbert (Francaise Des Jeux).
Shortly after the second sprint, two riders - Xavier Florencio Cabre (Bouygues Telecom) and Nicolas Portal (Caisse D'Epargne) - broke clear of the peloton. Rabobank's Bram de Groot easily bridged the gap to the leaders, before the main peloton once again reeled the three riders in. More attacks followed over the ensuing four laps, but again no one was able to sustain a substantial advantage over the fast moving peloton and were quickly brought back into the fold.
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). Meanwhile Rabobank moved all its riders to the front of the field, seemingly in an attempt to set up sprinter Graeme Brown for the win.
The pace settled down slightly as Rabobank took control of the race moving into the final 20 kilometres.
From here the peloton settled down slightly as Rabobank began moving its entire team towards the front, with Brown sitting seventh wheel behind his team-mates as they stormed around the tight beach-front circuit. With five to go Rabobank relented slightly as Greipel took the points from Jose Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Caisse D'Epargne) and Marcus Burghardt (Team High Road) in the final preme of the night.
Moving into the final five kilometres some the world's best sprinters - namely Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto), Allan Davis (UniSA-Australia) and Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole) - began making their way up to the head of field and onto the wheel of Brown, who still had his entire team taking care of the pace. As the entire field rounded the final bend into the 400 metre long finishing straight, it was Greipel, the winner of the final preme, who was the strongest of them all as he crossed as the victor of his first race this year. Renshaw finished a close second with McEwen and Davis rounding out the top four.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Mark Gunter/www.pbase.com/gunterphotograph
Images by Shane Goss/www.licoricegallery.com
1 Andre Greipel (Ger) Team High Road 1.09.20 (43.269 km/h) 2 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Credit Agricole 3 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Silence-Lotto 4 Allan Davis (Aus) Unisa - Australia 5 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne 6 Davide Vigano (Ita) Quick Step 7 Denis Flahaut (Fra) Saunier Duval-Scott 8 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank 9 Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Lampre 10 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner 11 Aurelien Clerc (Swi) Bouygues Telecom 12 Erki Putsep (Est) Bouygues Telecom 13 Rene Haselbacher (Aut) Astana 14 Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Bouygues Telecom 15 Adam Hansen (Aus) Team High Road 16 Aitor Galdos Alonso (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 17 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank 18 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2R-La Mondiale 19 Mario Aerts (Bel) Silence-Lotto 20 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Credit Agricole 0.04 21 Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Silence-Lotto 22 Jan Robert Forster (Ger) Gerolsteiner 23 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Team High Road 24 Igor Astarloa Ascasibar (Spa) Team Milram 0.07 25 Heinrich Friederich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner 26 William Walker (Aus) Rabobank 0.12 27 Koen De Kort (Ned) Astana 0.13 28 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Credit Agricole 0.16 29 Sebastien Portal (Fra) Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone 30 Christophe Kern (Fra) Credit Agricole 0.23 31 Joan Horrach Rippoll (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne 32 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Credit Agricole 33 Josep Jufre Pou (Spa) Saunier Duval-Scott 34 Mickael Buffaz (Fra) Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone 35 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Francaise Des Jeux 36 Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Team Csc 37 Sylvain Calzati (Fra) Ag2R-La Mondiale 38 Nicki Sorensen (Den) Team Csc 39 Kjell Carlstrom (Fin) Liquigas 40 Mauro Da Dalto (Ita) Liquigas 41 Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 42 Jose Alberto Benitez Roman (Spa) Saunier Duval-Scott 43 Paolo Fornaciari (Ita) Lampre 44 Michael Albasini (Swi) Liquigas 45 Jean-Eudes Demaret (Fra) Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone 0.27 46 Christophe Mengin (Fra) Francaise Des Jeux 47 Dimitri Champion (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 48 Thomas Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner 0.29 49 Dmytro Grabovskyy (Ukr) Quick Step 50 Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Unisa - Australia 51 Benoit Joachim (Lux) Astana 52 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Team Csc 53 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Team Csc 54 Emanuele Bindi (Ita) Lampre 55 Jerome Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 0.31 56 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 57 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Ag2R-La Mondiale 58 Wim Vansevenant (Bel) Silence-Lotto 59 Matthew Lloyd (Aus) Silence-Lotto 60 Pablo Lastras Garci (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne 61 Jose Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne 62 Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Team High Road 0.34 63 Julien Mazet (Fra) Astana 64 Matthew Wilson (Aus) Unisa - Australia 0.36 65 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Credit Agricole 66 Rick Flens (Ned) Rabobank 67 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Credit Agricole 68 Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr) Ag2R-La Mondiale 69 Andoni Lafuente (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 70 Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) Liquigas 0.39 71 Mauro Facci (Ita) Quick Step 72 Massimiliano Mori (Ita) Lampre 73 Alessandro Proni (Ita) Quick Step 74 Leonardo Scarselli (Ita) Quick Step 75 Jesus Del Nero Montes (Spa) Saunier Duval-Scott 76 Enrico Poitschke (Ger) Team Milram 77 Jeremy Roy (Fra) Francaise Des Jeux 78 Nicolas Crosbie (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 79 Renaud Dion (Fra) Ag2R-La Mondiale 80 Laurent Mangel (Fra) Ag2R-La Mondiale 81 Amael Moinard (Fra) Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone 82 Kevin Seeldraeyers (Bel) Quick Step 83 Luke Roberts (Aus) Unisa - Australia 84 Simon Clarke (Aus) Unisa - Australia 85 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre 86 Mickael Delage (Fra) Francaise Des Jeux 87 Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Team Csc 88 Jose Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa) Astana 0.44 89 Karl Menzies (Aus) Unisa - Australia 90 Dennis Haueisen (Ger) Team Milram 91 Kurt Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team Csc 1.01 92 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team High Road 93 Scott Davis (Aus) Team High Road 94 Martin Muller (Ger) Team Milram 95 Olivier Kaisen (Bel) Silence-Lotto 96 Allan Johansen (Den) Team Csc 97 Jon Bru Pascal (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 98 Ivan Velasco Murillo (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 99 Steve Morabito (Swi) Astana 100 Mathieu Perget (Fra) Caisse D'Epargne 101 Richie Porte (Aus) Unisa - Australia 102 Matthias Russ (Ger) Gerolsteiner 103 Ruben Lobato Elvira (Spa) Saunier Duval-Scott 104 Brett Lancaster (Aus) Team Milram 105 Bram De Groot (Ned) Rabobank 106 Volker Ordowski (Ger) Gerolsteiner 107 Theo Elltink (Ned) Rabobank 108 Nick Gates (Aus) Silence-Lotto 109 Tom Stubbe (Bel) Francaise Des Jeux 110 Sergio Ghisalberti (Ita) Team Milram 111 Stephane Poulhies (Fra) Ag2R-La Mondiale 112 Christian Murro (Ita) Lampre 1.11 113 David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone 114 Yann Huguet (Fra) Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone 115 Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro) Liquigas 116 Ivan Santaromita Villa (Ita) Liquigas 117 Nicolas Hartmann (Fra) Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone 118 Nicolas Portal (Fra) Caisse D'Epargne 1.19 119 Carlo Westphal (Ger) Gerolsteiner 120 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne 121 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Lampre 1.31 122 Javier Aramendia Lorenti (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 1.34 123 Timothy Gudsell (NZl) Francaise Des Jeux 1.55 DNF Elia Rigotto (Ita) Team Milram DNF Aaron Kemps (Aus) Astana DNF Yoann Offredo (Fra) Francaise Des Jeux DNF Jan Boven (Ned) Rabobank DNF Iker Camano Ortuzar (Spa) Saunier Duval-Scott DNS Evgeny Sokolov (Rus) Bouygues Telecom DNS Greg Henderson (NZl) Team High Road DNS Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Quick Step DNS Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Liquigas DNS Arkaitz Duran Daroca (Spa) Saunier Duval-Scott