André Greipel of Columbia-HTC, winner of yesterday’s opening day of the Santos Tour Down Under, today made it two in a row by taking the 134-kilometre second stage from Gawler to Hahndorf, crossing the line a whisker ahead of Team-Sky’s Greg Henderson and Robbie McEwen of Team Katusha.
Today’s victory continues the German’s remarkable record in the race. The 27-year-old won four stages on his way to winning the ochre jersey in 2008, and last year began his defence of his title with victory in the opening stage.
A crash with a parked police motorbike cut Greipel’s race short last year, but back-to-back wins on the opening two days this year mean that he has won seven of the ten stages he has completed.
Greipel admitted that toay’s stage, which included his HTC-Columbia team joining Team Sky in chasing down a breakaway, had left him feeling drained, saying: "I am surprised how tired I am today even with the break we were happy to let it go out eight minutes or more because we could claw back the time."
He added that “it’s nice to win in a German town,” a reference to the fact that despite being named after a Dane, Hahndorf was in face settled by German immigrants in the 19th Century.
Henderson’s second place today puts him in a similar position in the overall rankings, and with the New Zealander in strong early season form, Greipel acknowledged that there was no room to let his guard down, saying “I won't relax tomorrow, I'll work hard for the next stage."
Lance Armstrong, riding in his first race for Team RadioShack, finished 20 seconds behind Greipel today, but said it was too early to view the German as winner-designate of this year’s race, pointing out that some difficult challenges lie ahead, starting with tomorrow’s Stage 3 from Unley to Stirling, where the riders have to negotiate an uphill finish in temperatures predicted to reach 38 degrees Celsius.
“It's never over,” said the Texan. “You've got a finish like tomorrow, you've got Willunga [Stage 5], you've got some hard days. So no, it's not [over]." But he acknowledged that Griepel was “obviously showing great form, he's been here for weeks, probably doing some racing and some intense training. He's definitely the man to beat."
Provisional results for stage 2 of the Santos Tour Down Under:
1: Andre Greipel (GER) Team HTC - Columbia
2: Greg Henderson (NZL) Team Sky
3: Robbie McEwen (AUS) Team Katusha
4: Robbie Hunter (RSA) Garmin Transitions
5:Graeme Brown (AUS) Rabobank
6: Allan Davis (AUS) Astana
7: Danilo Wyss (SUI) BMC Racing Team
8: Luke Roberts (AUS) Milram
9: Baden Cooke (AUS) Team Saxo Bank
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.