2008 Champion Andre Greipel (HTC-Columbia) has signalled his intention to reclaim the crown after sprinting to victory in the opening stage of the 2010 Santos Tour Down Under.
The German sprinter was a clear winner ahead of Radioshack’s Gert Steegmans (BEL) with another Belgian rider, Jurgen Roelandts (Omega-Pharma-Lotto) third in a bunch sprint for first blood in the first UCI ProTour event for the season.
The lead riders completed the 141 km stage from Clare, through some of the world’s premium winegrowing regions, to the finish in the Barossa Valley town of Tanunda in a time of 3hr15min30sec.
Greipel earned a ten second bonus for the stage win to put him in the Santos race leader’s jersey with Steegmans sitting four seconds behind in second place. Swiss rider, Martin Kohler (BMC) won both Jayco intermediate sprints of the day to knock six seconds off his race time putting him in third place overall, also four seconds behind Greipel.
Clare turned out on force to support the event and she stage began with a crash and a bang before it had even left the town of Clare when there was a rider collision and reigning World Champion Cadel Evans needed a shoe replacement in the early part of the race.
Euskadel-Euskadi rider Gorka Izagirre (ESP) launched an very early attack but it didn’t last. UniSA-Australia rider Timothy Roe then had a go with Kohler and AG2R la Mondiale rider Biel Kadri (FRA) joining him in the lead. The trio managed gained a lead of almost ten minutes by the 45 kilometre mark and merrily made their way through both intermediate sprints at Riverton (44.6km) and Kapunda (74.5km) but as the race approached the Skoda King of the Mountain at 114km the chasing peloton was hot on their wheels.
Roe wasn’t waiting to be caught and launched a solo attack at the foot of Mengler’s Hill and managed to stay clear to collect the climber’s points across the summit cheered all the way thousands of vocal fans who lined the road. The 20 year old was also awarded the Hindmarsh Most Aggressive Rider of the Day Jersey for initiating the break and snatching the Skoda jersey.
However after the climb the sprinter’s teams got organised and hunted down all challengers as they worked to set up their fast men for the finish which was a furious, fast paced gallop to the line.
Tomorrow’s 133km Stage 2 will take the peloton from Gawler, north of Adelaide and through the Adelaide Hills to Hahndorf.