- by Santos Tour Down Under
- Published: 18 January 2012
German sprint sensation Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) simply sizzled to claim the opening stage of the Santos Tour Down Under by a mere half a wheel from Italy’s Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) with Yauheni Hutarovich from Belarus (FDJ-BigMat) a bike length back in third place.
The 149 kilometre stage took the riders from Prospect, north of Adelaide, into the searing heat of a 40-plus degrees celsius South Australian summer day with gusty, blustery winds making it tough going for the 133 world class cyclists who reached the finish line in Clare more than half an hour later than expected.
The heat didn’t deter the fans with an estimated 95 thousand grabbing whatever shade they could find to wait for the stars of world cycling to come their way with many taking part in one of the many community events staged in support of the race.
When the riders eventually reached Clare a high speed crash 800 metres from the line split the peloton leaving the major sprinters scrabbling for position. Greipel was one of around 20 who were quick to recover their composure and forge ahead to contest the finish. Any riders caught up in the crash were given the same time as the winner because the crash occurred within three kilometres of the finish.
“I’m lucky that I won today,” said Greipel who also won Sunday’s curtain raiser Down Under Classic. “There has been a massive crash with 800 metres to go, my pedal got touched and I lost positions from about fifth to twentieth. But I could bridge the gap.
“Two of my team-mates crashed,”said a concerned Greipel. “That’s all I care about after winning this stage. We had a really hard time today with the high temperatures.”
In the wake of the crash three riders and a spectator were taken to hospital. Italian Matteo Montaguti (AG2R-La Mondiale) was treated for grazes but later released from SportsMed Adelaide after x-rays showed no fracture of his collar bone. FDJ-BigMat rider Frederic Guesdon (FRA) has been admitted to Royal Adelaide Hospital with a fractured pelvis and is likely to remain there for at least a few days to allow the break to stabilise. Greipel’s team mate Jurgen Roelandts (BEL) was also taken to Royal Adelaide Hospital for precautionary scans with the results expected overnight. A spectator caught up in the crash was treated at Clare Hospital.
Greipel’s victory has put him into the Santos Ochre Leader’s Jersey with a four second margin over Petacchi. He also leads the Jayco Sprint Classification.
At the start of the stage four riders launched an early attack and established a lead of more than ten minutes by the 20 kilometre mark. Amongst them was UniSA-Australia’s Rohan Dennis, who last week claimed both the under-23 time trial and road race national titles. With the young South Australian was Marcello Pavarin (Vacansoleil-DCM), German Martin Kohler (BMC) and Russian Eduard Vorganov (Katusha).
At the first Jayco intermediate sprint at Kapunda (75km) Kohler was awarded the win with Vorganov relegated to last place in the sprint for not holding his line. Kohler also claimed maximum points and a three second time bonus at the second sprint prime in Riverton (104km).
Today’s only Skoda King of the Mountain contest was a category three climb at Taylors Run and it was Pavarin who grabbed the points to secure the early lead in the polka dot jersey competition.
Rohan Dennis collected three bonus seconds for his placings in the Jayco intermediate sprints to put him in the Cycle Instead Young Rider jersey as the best placed rider overall under the age of 25.
“It was exceptionally hot today and the wind made it virtually impossible at times. At one point we were only doing 20km an hour,” said Dennis. “At the finish I stayed well back to let the sprinters go, I am glad I did, when the crash happened I was able to avoid it and stay with the bunch.”
Coleman’s Group Stage 2 will take the race into the Adelaide Hills for a 148 kilometre route from Lobethal to Stirling.
Photo: Santos Tour Down Under / Regallo
Source: 2012 Santos Tour Down Under