Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole) won the Down Under Classic criterium on Tuesday, the warm-up city centre criterium before the start of the five-day Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia.
Renshaw beat Hilton Clarke (Navigators) and Gene Bates (SouthAustralia.com) after 50km of fierce racing in 35 degree temperatures. Robbie McEwen (Predictor) was only fourth, with Allan Davis (Australia) fifth, Brett Lancaster (Milram) sixth, Baden Cooke (Unibet.com) seventh and Stuart O’Grady (CSC) eighth.
Predictor, Barloworld, CSC and Unibet.com all tried to lead out the sprint but Renshaw used his track skills to find a way through to win the first international race of the 2007 season.
Britain’s Jeremy Hunt (Unibet.com) was in an early break with five other riders but they were pulled back as the teams got ready for the final sprint Hunt finished 46th at 18 seconds. 20 year-old Welshman Geraint Thomas made his professional debut in the race with Barloworld.He work to help sprinters Robert Hunter and Enrico Degano in the final laps and finished 107 at 1-39.
The criterium stage is not part of the Tour Down Under and the result will not count for the overall standings of the five-day race. The first of the TDU stage begins on Wednesday with a 152km stage from Mawson Lakes to Tanunda.
Favourites for overall victory include 2006 winner Simon Gerrans (Ag2r) and local hero and two-time winner Stuart O?Grady (CSC).