Marcel Kittel celebrated a convincing victory at the People’s Choice Classic criterium in Adelaide, Australia today defending his title on the back of a commanding showing from his Giant-Alpecin team.
The 26-year-old best Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) and Wouter Wippert (Drapac) at the end of the fast-paced 51km race that acts as a prelude to the Tour Down Under beginning Tuesday.
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“I’m always nervous before the first race,” Kittel said. “I want to have that first win immediately with the team, if it’s possible, and I’m super happy it worked out today.”
British national road champion Peter Kennaugh was part of a four-man break including Mathew Hayman (Orica-GreenEdge), Calvin Watson (Trek) and Dario Cataldo (Astana) that eventually went clear on the 1.7km circuit. The quartet held a maximum advantage of about 31 seconds, with Giant-Alpecin assembled in single file and ever vigilant at the front of the peloton, before rejoining the main group inside the last 14km.
Kittel lost two team-mates in Lawson Craddock and Simon Geschke, who went out the back with some two laps remaining having done their bit.
“That’s an indication how hard it was,” said Giant-Alpecin sports director Addy Engels. “They worked really hard and the speed was simply too high to stay in the bunch in the final. I didn’t have the feeling it was an easy victory but best way to start, of course.”
The German fast-man Kittel however still had Koen de Kort in the finale, launching his sprint off the Dutchman’s wheel inside the last 200m.
Kennaugh was happy with his showing ahead of the Tour Down Under, which the 25-year-old is competing at for the first time.
“I wasn’t really looking forward to this crit that much to be honest, after seeing it the last couple of years, all these crashes and stuff, but today it was good,” Kennaugh said. “It’s nice to get out there and show the jersey. It beats just sitting at the back or something like that.”
Kittel will have another opportunity to add to his 2015 victory count when the Tour Down Under begins with a flat stage on Tuesday. Kennaugh is set to ride in support of Sky team-mate Richie Porte, who has title aspirations.
People’s Choice Classic, East End, Adelaide, 51km
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Alpecin 1-02-41
2. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Movistar
3. Wouter Wippert (Ned) Drapac
4. Chris Sutton (Aus) Sky
5. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM
6. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Etixx-Quick-Step
7. Rudiger Selig (Ger) Katusha
8. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
9. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Etixx-Quick-Step
10. Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto-Soudal