Gerrans Sprints to Stage 1 Victory in Tour Down Under 2014
Team GreenEdge's Australian Simon Gerrans has continued his impressive season start and announced his intention to claim his third Santos Tour Down Under crown with a stunning sprint to win stage 1 in Angaston.
is a key workhorse for teammate Greipel. "It’s a nice jersey to have but I don’t think I’ll fight to defend it. Our main goal remains to win a stage and I’ll work for that as a priority."
Hansen was reeled in soon after before Japanese rider Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar) and team mate Bjorn Thurau from Germany broke away. But despite a second surge from Thurau and a bid by Australian Rory Sutherland (Tinkoff-Saxo) to escape the sprinter's trains brought it back together to set up a bunch sprint.
All bets were on Greipel, a prolific stage winner and 2008 and 2010 overall winner of the Santos Tour Down Under, but after the stage he admitted today's course wasn't suited to his style of sprinting.
"It was a perfect finish for Gerro (Gerrans) today," said Greipel. "The gearing was just too hard for me today."
"It wasn't a bunch sprint today, it was very hard today, and I am no climber. I tried to go up as fast as possible, so it's a good sign that the condition is there but the headwind played against us today," Greipel explained.
Third place finisher Von Hoff was happy to finish in the top 3. "We had really good teamwork today," said Von Hoff of his Garmin-Sharp line up. "They rode for me all day. The sprint was very hard. I didn't quite have the legs to come around Gerro (Gerrans).
"The legs are going well, so we're hoping for a good week," he said. "Third is not bad. It shows I'm in good condition."
Early in the stage two riders broke way and forged a lead of more than three minutes. Drapac's Will Clarke won the first of the intermediate sprints in Bethany at 26 kilometer while his breakaway companion Neil van der Ploeg of the UniSA-Australia team was second. German Simon Geschke of Team Giant-Shimano led the main field across the line for third.
At the second intermediate sprint, also at Bethany, 72km into the stage it was van der Ploeg who crossed ahead of Clarke while Gerrans grabbed a one second time bonus for third place.
Clarke was named the Europcar Most Competitive rider of the day for his efforts in the early breakaway.
"The team’s plan was to have one of us in the breakaway. The first attempt worked, which is not really that common," said Clarke. "It was me and Neil Van der Ploeg. It was nice to be up there. But they worked pretty well together in the peloton. They never let us go far. I was hoping for a lead of six or seven minutes but we didn’t even reached four minutes.
"Possibly some teams remembered that I won in Stirling two years ago surviving such a breakaway."
Spain was also represented today with Carlos Verona taking the lead in the Cycle Instead Young Rider category. The Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider is ranked 15th overall at 15 seconds.
"In the last climb, we were going to prepare the finale for Matteo Trentin but the climb was too difficult