André Greipel opened the Tour Down Under by winning the pre-race criterium in Adelaide, Australia on Sunday. Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen finished second ahead of Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda).
“We didn’t sleep this winter,” said Greipel. “The new lead-out train works with Greg Henderson, who’s a main part of our success.”
Jürgen Roelandts and Adam Hansen also led Lotto-Belisol’s Greipel to the line.
Boasson Hagen tried to anticipate Greipel’s sprint, but was unable to hold off the German. He led Sky’s charge after designated sprinter, Chris Sutton missed the lead-out train.
“It went to plan, but I don’t know what happened to CJ [Sutton],” said Sky’s sports director, Sean Yates. “Edvald did a good ride, though. He was to lead CJ out, but had to take responsibility without him.”
“A great start,” Boasson Hagen explained. “With CJ out, I had to take over and try. The criterium tells me that I am ready for the rest of the week.”
The criterium started at 19:01 or 8:31 in British time, and consisted of 30 laps around Adelaide’s centre. Sky came to the front only in the final five laps, first with Danny Pate and Rogers, then a final surge in the last two laps with Geraint Thomas, Mathew Hayman, Boasson Hagen and Sutton. It was similar to Sky’s move two years ago to win with Henderson; the only hitch was Sutton lost contact.
“With all the fighting, CJ lost the wheel,” said Thomas. “We hit the front with two to go, but it was chaotic and hard to keep the guys organised.
“The main thing is to gel and to learn from it. We had a good go and learnt. That’s the good thing about having two strong guys, if one loses contact, the other can have a go.”
“Edvald won a couple of Tour de France stages,” added Greipel, “so I’m not surprised that he’s so good.”
The criterium will not count for the classification of the Tour Down Under, which begins in earnest on Tuesday with a road stage to Clare.
Down Under Classic 2012
1. Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol in 1-03-17
2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky
3. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin-Barracuda
4. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar
5. Steele Von Hoff (Aus) UniSA-Australia
6. Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Saxo Bank
7. Chris Sutton (Aus) Sky
8. Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Spa) Movistar
9. Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto-Belisol
10. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-ISD all same time
45. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky at 17 secs
113. Adam Blythe (GBr) BMC Racing at 37 secs
122. Andrew Fenn (GBr) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 1-00
126. Alex Dowsett (GBr) Sky at 1-29
Defending Tour Down Under champion Cameron Meyer signs on
Nathan Haas in the escape group
Danny Pate makes his Sky debut
Andre Greipel wins Down Under Classic