A lean Andre Greipel and his Lotto-Belisol team have set a high benchmark ahead of next week’s Tour Down Under comfortably winning a prelude criterium in Adelaide, Australia today.
The 30-year-old Greipel and Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) were the only two in an overhead camera shot at the finish of the 51km race, which the former claimed on the back of a text book lead-out from his teammates including chief lieutenant Greg Henderson, who was third.
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“Of course we are realistic, it’s just the first race and it’s a short one but I think one of the hardest to win,” Greipel said post-race.
“Everybody knows how fast this race is and the last lap is really fast – it just lined out after the hairpin, 500-600m to go – and when you’re not on the wheel it’s pretty hard to follow.
“It makes it easier because we have the same guys like last year. We just stick to the same plan. We know how hard it is to hit the front on this circuit but Ollie Kaisen did the job to close the breakaway.
“We knew that we’d have to take the responsibility and then with the young guy, Tim Wellens, he kept us on the front of the bunch. Adam Hansen he had to take the decision when we start with the lead-out and he did it like last year – hit the front with one and a half laps to go and I am happy we could finish it off.”
Jens Voigt (RadioShack Leopard Trek) and Australian Zak Dempster (UniSA Australia) comprised an early break that was ultimately reeled in toward the business end of the 30-lap event.
The Tour Down Under, which doubles as the first WorldTour race of the season, starts on Tuesday with a 135km stage to Lobethal. The camaraderie amongst the Lotto-Belisol team is apparent and Greipel is focused on adding to his 11-stage haul but not an overall attempt at a race he has won twice previously (2008 and 2010) given the difficulty of some stages.
The team has worked on lead-outs at a recent training camp and Hansen is confident it will pay dividends throughout the January 22-27 race.
“We did three or four days of lead-out training and that was very specific,” Hansen said.
“We had our train and we had a second train with the motor bike. The idea was to then do any scenario and we had to adapt to it and try and win it. That was kind of new. It wasn’t really physical training more mental tactics training so we did a lot of that.”
Meanwhile, Kimberly Davis (Canberra CC/Specialized Securitor) has won stage one of the Santos Women’s Cup ahead of Rochelle Gilmore (Bankstown Sports/Wiggle Honda) and Jenny MacPherson (St Kilda CC/Liv-Giant). The cup continues Monday with stage two to Prospect.
The riders now have a break on Monday before the six-stage Tour Down Under starts on Tuesday, kicking off the 2013 UCI WorldTour season. Greipel won three stages of the race last year, which was won overall by Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge).
People’s Choice Classic 2013, 51km
1. Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol in 1-04-00
2. Matthew Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
3. Gregory Henderson (NZl) Lotto-Belisol
4. Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
5. Chris Sutton (Aus) Sky
6. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky
7. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida
8. Steele Von Hoff (Aus) Garmin-Sharp
9. Jose Rojas (Spa) Movistar
10. Anthony Giacoppo (Aus) UniSA-Australia all same time
14. Andy Fenn (GBr) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at same time
20. Luke Rowe (GBr) Sky at same time
51. Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky at 8 secs
63. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky at 21 secs
Sky Brits Ian Stannard, Luke Rowe and Geraint Thomas
Peloton in Adelaide
Jens Voigt and Zak Dempster in the escape
Lotto-Belisol, Argos-Shimano and Orica-GreenEdge lead the chase
World Champion Philippe Gilbert
Andre Greipel edges out Matt Goss for the win