Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) added his name to the list of winners of the People's Choice Classic on Sunday, winning the short criterium race in Adelaide.
The Tour Down Under warm-up race has been won in the past two years by Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott), but the Australian rider could not get the better of Sagan and had to settle for third behind André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal).
British rider Chris Lawless made a good impression on his first outing for Team Sky with sixth place. Elia Viviani made his debut with Quick-Step Floors with fourth place.
🏁 WHAT A FINISH!!! Victory in the @peopleschoiceAU Classic for @petosagan!! Did we mention he was relaxed earlier? The world champ is back in town!! #TDU #peopleschoiceAUclassic pic.twitter.com/AoPo6Q9dWk
— Santos Tour Down Under 🐨🚴 (@tourdownunder) January 14, 2018
The majority of the short-and-fast 50.6-kilometre race was dominated by a seven-rider in escape group formed of Zak Dempster (UniSA-Australia), Lachlan Morton (Dimension Data), Tom Bohli (BMC), Fumiyuki Beppu (Trek-Segafredo), Manuele Boaro (Bahrain-Merida), Jhonatan Restrepo (Katusha-Alpecin) and Tim Roe (UniSA-Australia).
The group worked up a gap of around 30 seconds at the mid-way point, but a lack of co-operation saw their advantage slip.
Bohli and Boaro were the last remaining riders to get caught by the chasing peloton with four of the 22 laps to go, setting up a bunch finish.
Unlike previous seasons, there was no extended wait for Sagan to take his first victory of the year as he accelerated to the win to defy pre-race favourite Ewan and three-time winner Greipel.
Sky's Kristoffer Halvorsen had helped to lead out Lawless but clipped an advertising banner on the roadside barrier and was sent tumbling to the ground. The team later reported that he had got back on his bike to finish the race.
The riders now have a short break before the Tour Down Under starts in Adelaide on Tuesday, January 16. The opening WorldTour race of the 2018 season then concludes on Sunday, January 21.
People's Choice Classic 2018: Adelaide, 50.6km
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 1-04-25
2. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Soudal
3. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
4. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
5. Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
6. Christopher Lawless (GBr) Team Sky
7. Sam Welsford (Aus) UniSA-Australia
8. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) LottoNL-Jumbo
9. Jasha Sutterlin (Ger) Movistar
10. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Dimension Data, all same time
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