Rostock's André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) suffered the second narrow defeat in three days at the start of the Tour Down Under. After Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) snatched victory in the last few meters of the People's Choice Classic on Sunday [Link], he was now at a disadvantage at the start of the Tour Down Under against the Australian champion Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge). Third was Steele von Hoff (Garmin-Sharp).
The 135-kilometer opening stage of the Tour Down Under was initially marked by a pair of escapees. With temperatures well over thirty degrees, the two Australians sat down shortly after the start William Clarke (Drapac) and Neil van der Ploeg (UniSA) exit the field. However, they failed to extend their lead to more than three and a half minutes.
In the field provided next to the team Orica GreenEdge from Sky for the pace. The field initially managed to bring Van der Ploeg back. And although Clarke fought back as best he could, his escape was over before the only climb of the day. Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) secured the points at Menglers Hill, leading a field of about 50 drivers towards Angaston.
A few kilometers before the finish, Björn Thurau (Europcar) tried to escape together with his teammate, the Japanese champion Yukiya Arashiro. But as was the case with the first duo, they could not break away decisively.
In the end, the sprint, in which a surprised Gerrans got the upper hand, decided: "I think I surprised a few, including myself," admitted the Australian frankly after his win, but also pointed to the strong headwind on the home straight and cited this as one of the reasons for his victory.
With the day's victory, Gerrans also takes the lead in the overall standings. Greipel is in second place, five seconds behind. Also noteworthy are fourth and ninth place, occupied by Simon Geschke (Giant-Shimano) and Cadel Evans (BMC), who are just 10 and 11 seconds behind Gerrans respectively.
1. Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge) 3:20:34
2. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) 0:00:00
3. Steele von Hoff (Garmin Sharp) 0:00:00
4. Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) 0:00:00
5. Maxime Bouet (Ag2R-La Mondiale) 0:00:00
1. Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge) 3:20:23
2. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) 0:00:05
3. Steele von Hoff (Garmin Sharp) 0:00:07
4. Simon Geschke (Giant Shimano) 0:00:10
5. Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) 0:00:11