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German fastman Kittel out-paced his rivals to take his first victory of the season, with Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) in second and Wouter Wippert (Drapac) in third.
Earlier in the race, British national champion Peter Kennaugh (Sky) had been part of a four-rider escape group that broke free from the peloton, but were caught in the final 14km of the 51km event.
The Tour Down Under starts on Tuesday, January 20.