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The Matt Lloyd Tour Down Under diary

Matt Lloyd (Silence-Lotto)
Photo ©: Shane Goss
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Twenty four year old Matt Lloyd, is the current Australian champion and hails from Melbourne. After graduating from the South Australia.com – AIS team in 2005, he went on to sign for the Belgian based Silence-Lotto team (previously Predictor-Lotto) of fellow Australians Cadel Evans, Robbie McEwen and Nick Gates. Now in his second year on the squad and after showing huge promise in his first year, Lloyd is looking set to have a stellar year on the ProTour circuit. He finished fourth at the Tour Down Under last year, and is eager to better that result this time around to hopefully grab the first ProTour leaders jersey of the year and thereby taking up where team-mate Evans left off last year. Follow his progression through the race here on Cyclingnews as he keeps you up to date with his daily Tour diary.

January 22, 2008 - Stage 1: Mawson Lakes - Angaston, 129km

Staying out of trouble

A guarded walk: With the national jersey comes fame for 2008 Australian Road Race Champion
Photo ©: Shane Goss
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Mawson Lakes turned on a premium race start this morning, with thousands of exited fans pumped up to see the first stage of the TDU. This huge motivation rubbed off on the somewhat relaxed peloton with all riders enjoying the great support and enthusiasm.

Setting off for the 120k stage, it was clear the climb shortly after the start would see the first decisive attempts to form a break-away. To me this portion of the stage was no doubt the most intense with huge attacks by the FDJ boys and Euskatel to sneak away. However, due to the strength of the field, and knowledge of the potential dangers of an early big move, any chance to escape was quickly returned with interest by team High Road and Team CSC. It would be preposterous to think that groups featuring Stuey O'Grady, Sanchez and the likes would be able to get away..

After the three man group formed, quickly gaining over five minutes lead, it was the usual ProTour routine for the sprinters teams to organize the chase to the finish. Given the characteristics of the race and today's finish, it was clear from the 50km to go mark it was going to result in a sprint finish. I was quite content to conserve my energy, while remaining attentive to groups wanting more involvement within 15km's to the line. Although Robbie McEwen was quite comfortable in the hands of the team, our tactics were to let the other teams draw the break-away in anyway, which took a lot of pressure of all our boys.

Given Credit Agricole's eagerness to grind the deficit to the break within striking distance, it was no surprise to see Mark Renshaw have a brilliant ProTour win closely followed by Brownie at the finish. In an attempt to stay out of trouble I was helped by the always strong Nick Gates and Mario Aerts to hide within the huge washing machine that crossed the line. Without question, all the boys were glad to wrap up the first stage drama free; given the first stage of racing often enough proves the most nervous and capable of exploding into a massive free-for-all with crashes and complete mayhem.

Obviously, tomorrow's stage will again provide the same elements of a week long stage race with a relatively undulating and diverse course, allowing the chance for some major breaks to form. Yet as today's race proved, the awareness of race winning moves is being given the attention it deserves and this will result in a serious sprint effort or a mega throw down of the guys wanting overall glory come Sunday afternoon.

After blowing all the ring-rust out from a fun week post-national champs, I'm eager to try and get amongst it when the action unfolds...