Perhaps Bob Stapleton should have fired T-Mobile, instead of waiting for the German sponsor to pull the plug on his team.
Because Stapleton?s High Road team has hit the ground running this year, with three high-profile wins so far.
The 25-year-old German sprinter André Greipel won the Down Under Classic in Glenelg, South Australia, to continue a winning run kicked off by Roger Hammond?s national cyclo-cross title, and Adam Hansen?s Australian time trial championship win.
As expected the 25 laps of a two-kilometre circuit ended in a high-speed sprint. Rabobank tried to control the head of the peloton for Graeme Brown in the final laps as other sprinters battled for the best wheels but their work was wasted when they struggled on the final corner.
Mark Renshaw took on Brown early in the sprint but as they faded into a headwind, Greipel came past with a late but impressive burst of speed to win. Renshaw got second with McEwen coming through to take third.
Britain?s Jeremy Hunt, riding in his new Credit Agricole colours helped Renshaw in the sprint and finished 28th at 16 seconds.
“It was a really long sprint, those last 50m were hard, but I’m really glad,” Greipel told Australian newspaper The Age after his win.
“The Rabobank team had a little bit of bad luck on the last corner, so I tried to start my sprint and I thought ‘okay, it’s a headwind, but it doesn’t matter ? you have to be strong and sprint to the finish’.”
Although the victory does not count for the overall classification in the Tour Down Under, Greipel will start Tuesday?s opening stage 129km stage through the Barossa wine valley wearing the leader?s orange jersey.
WHO IS ANDRE GREIPEL?
Age 25 from Germany
Best results so far
Two stage wins in the 2007 Sachsen Tour
2nd on stage 6 of the 2006 Vuelta a Espana, behind Thor Hushovd
Greipel’s victory doesn’t count towards the ProTour either ? that also starts on Tuesday.
But that won’t worry the High Road squad, a team that could have been forgiven for starting the season under a cloud. A winning start to the season in Australia will do wonders for morale.
|DOWN UNDER CLASSIC|
1. André Greipel (Ger) Team High Road 1hr 09min 20sec
2. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Crédit Agricole
3. Robbie McEwen (Aus) Silence-Lotto
4. Allan Davis (Aus) UniSA
5. José Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d?Epargne
6. Davide Vigano (Ita) Quick Step
7. Denis Flahaut (Fra) Saunier Duval
8. Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank
9. Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Lampre
10. Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner all same time
28. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Crédit Agricole at 16sec