Team Sky has wasted no time in signalling its intent to its ProTour rivals with Kiwi rider Greg Henderson crossing the line ahead of team-mate CJ Sutton to give the British outfit victory in its debut race, the Cancer Council Helpline Classic, the curtain raiser to the Tour Down Under which starts on Tuesday.
As the race entered its final lap, Team Sky were driving the front of the peloton, with Britain’s Russ Downing helping to force the pace. HTC-Columbia tried to get André Griepel away, but the German sprinter appeared to make his move too early and was caught near the line by Sutton as he led out Henderson. Katusha’s Robbie McEwen, returning from injury, came in third.
Tour Down Under organisers have put a taster video on YouTube, and for British viewers there is a highlights package on Sky Sports at from 5.00-5.30pm today, after which the programme will be made available on the Team Sky website.
Henderson was clearly pumped up by his victory, saying: "It's fantastic, to get a victory in our very first race together is incredible - it's unheard of. We'd talked about it beforehand - the best way for Team Sky to start would be by winning the race and to achieve that is unbelievable.”
He continued, “I looked around with a couple of laps to go and the guys were all there for me. We all formed together with about two, two and a half laps to go, and I was on the back and I just yelled 'yes' as loud as I could and it went down the line - 'yes, yes, yes'. "It was just like we'd practiced in training and when the boys lit it up it was just so fast."
The New Zealander claimed that from that point on, Team Sky were in the driving seat, saying: "They tried to charge us down the back straight but we just had too much horsepower. Mat Goss (HTC-Colombia) actually snuck in the middle there but it ended up helping us. CJ then came off him and then I was there at the end to finish it off."
He added that the win was in part due to the team spirit that has quickly been built up within the Team Sky camp, commenting: "We've gelled so quickly, we're just like brothers and will do anything for each other."
Regarding Team Sky’s targets for the Tour Down Under itself, Henderson said:"The main goal is the overall classification but we'll just take it one day at a time. This is the perfect start though and all credit to the guys."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.