German sprinter André Greipel took another impressive win in the Tour Down Under today, his seventh win out of eleven stages ridden in this race.
The HTC-Columbia rider crashed out of the Tour Down Under on stage three last year as defending champion, this year he’ll be hoping to avoid any crashes and hold the leader’s ochre jersey all the way to Sunday’s final stage.
Although there are some hills to come in the next four stages, this is a race that has typically favoured the sprinters and of all those here this week, Greipel is clearly the fastest.
The German’s closest challenger today was Greg Henderson. Team Sky’s Kiwi was second after another good lead out from his new team mates and now lies second overall, 14 seconds behind Greipel. “It was a good lead out again, but Robbie [McEwen] was on a bit of a mission today,” said Henderson.
“He just bashed me off CJ. I was trying to wait as long as I could, but I got bashed left and got bashed right….. Greipel came from behind so I kicked to get on his wheel, but all I could do was get on his back wheel.”
Although Greipel has looked untouchable in the last two days, Henderson says they know how to beat him. And If anyone does know how to do that, it should be the Kiwi. He roomed with Greipel during much of his Two years with Columbia and lead Greipel out in 16 of his 20 wins in 2009.
“I wont say how we’re going to beat him, in case he reads it!” Henderson said. “We know what to do, but at the moment he’s just super strong.”
Sprint teams take control again
Today’s stage followed a similar pattern to yesterday. A small group escaped early on, built up a lead, and was then chased down by the bunch before a sprint.
David Kemp was the Uni SA rider to get in the break, and was joined by two riders from Omega Pharma Lotto; Mickael Delage and Olivier Kaisen. The trio got a maximum advantage of over 11 minutes before the bunch started to reel them back in.
25-year-old Kemp dropped his two companions on the only climb of the day, but he wasn’t given much more than a few minutes of freedom. All three were eventually reeled in after a lot of work from HTC Columbia who hold double the responsibility with the strongest sprinter and the race leader.
Other teams got involved in the final kilometres and even RadioShack joined in the lead-out scuffles. Lance Armstrong, no mean sprinter himself in his day, hit the front in the final kilometre, working for Gert Steegmans.
But Armstrong wasn’t fast enough today and got swamped as Team Sky came through. But they went too early with the long, uphill sprint seemingly catching many out. With 300 metres to go all the trains had disintegrated, and the sprinters had to rely on their instinct, guile and raw speed. Greipel went late but his speed carried him through to first and Henderson through to second.
Lance Armstrong was doing his fair share of work today
No Kangaroos spotted today, so you’ll have to make do with a classic Aussie road sign
Tour Down Under stage 2: Gawler – Hahndorf, 133km
1. André Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia
2. Greg Henderson (NZl) Team Sky
3. Robbie McEwen (Aus) Katusha
4. Robbie Hunter (Aus) Garmin Transitions
5. Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank
6. Allen Davis (Aus) Astana
7. Danilo Wyss (Sui) BMC
8. Luke Roberts (Aus) Milram
9. Baden Cooke (Aus) Saxo Bank
10. Jose Rojas (Esp) Caisse d’Epargne
General classification after stage two
1. André Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia 6-38.59hrs
2. Greg Henderson (NZl) Team Sky at 14 secs
3. Gert Steegmans (Bel) Team RadioShack at same time
4. Robbie McEwen (Aus) Katusha at 16 secs
5. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma Lotto at same time
6. Danilo Wyss (Sui) BMC at 20 secs
7. Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank
8. Baden Cooke (Aus) Saxo Bank
9. Robbie Hunter (Aus) Garmin Transitions
10. Jose Rojas (Esp) Caisse d’Epargne all at same time
King of the Mountains classification
Timothy Roe (Aus) Uni SA
André Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia
Ag2r La Mondiale
Young rider classification
Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma Lotto
Tour Down Under 2010: Race reports
Tour Down Under, stage two: Greipel takes win number two
Tour Down Under, stage one: Greipel takes back sprint crown
Cancer Council Helpline Classic: Team Sky off to perfect start as Henderson wins
Tour Down Under 2010: Related links
Downing adapts to embrace new challenge
Hayman admits to nerves before Sky’s debut
Tour Down Under news round-up (Jan 16)
Armstrong leads thousands on Twitter ride in Adelaide
Team Sky ready for first race
Armstrong warms up Down Under
Armstrong in Australia: “I’m in better shape than last year”
Team Sky gets ready for Tour Down Under
Tour Down Under 2010: Start list
Lance Armstrong to ride 2010 Tour Down Under
Cadel Evans and BMC to ride Tour Down Under
Tour Down Under teams confirm rosters
Davis wins 2009 Tour Down Under
Tour Down Under official website