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10th Tour Down Under - ProT

Australia, January 20-27, 2008

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Prologue - Sunday, January 20: Down Under Classic (Glenelg circuit), 50km

Complete live report

18:54 CST   
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.

18:58 CST   
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.

18:59 CST   
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.

19:00 CST   
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.

19:01 CST   
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).

19:04 CST   
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.

19:04 CST   
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.

19:07 CST   
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.

19:17 CST   
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.

19:20 CST   
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 rivals.

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.

19:23 CST   
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.

19:26 CST   
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.

19:29 CST   
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.

19:37 CST   
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).

19:42 CST   
Rabobank has resumed its control of the peloton as the race enters its final 20 laps.

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.

19:46 CST   
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 week.

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.

20:05 CST   
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.

20:08 CST   
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).

20:10 CST   
Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto) has taken third place from Allan Davis (Unisa - Australia).

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