André Greipel of Lotto-Belisol, twice overall winner of the Santos Tour Down Under, has got his season off to a perfect start by winning the Down Under Classic, the criterium that acts as a curtain-raiser to the stage race that opens the UCI WorldTour season on Tuesday.
In a sprint finish, Greipel, Tour Down Under overall winner in 2008 and 2010 while with Highroad Sports (pictured), won the sprint finish from Team Sky’s Edvald Boasson, with Garmin-Barracuda’s Heinrich Haussler third.
Following his victory Greipel, who previously won the criterium in 2008, quoted on the Tour Down Under website, said: "As a team, we didn't want to race with too much pressure but it worked out well.
"We practiced a lot of lead out train before this race and it paid off. It's always good to win and it's a great way to start a new season.
"It wasn't very difficult for me actually. I only had to follow Greg Henderson who himself followed Jurgen Roelandts.
"I just needed to stay on their wheel and get out with 200 metres to go.”
Although the results of today’s race have no influence on the classifications on the Tour Down Under his victory today means that the 29-year-old German will gets the honour of being the first wearer of the ochre jersey worn by the overall leader.
While that does give Lotto-Belisol the task of defending the leader’s jersey, in all other respects everyone will start with a clean slate when the race begins outside Prospect Town Hall on Tuesday morning for the first of six stages that will showcase the South Australia countryside as the 2012 season gets under way in earnest.
Today’s race, held in evening sunshine and comprising 30 laps of a 1.7km circuit around Adelaide’s Rymill Park, had been preceded by the official presentation of the teams hosted by Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen.
Highlight's of today's race will be shown this evening on Sky Sports 4 at 6.30pm.
2012 Down Under Classic Result
1. GREIPEL, A (GER) Lotto-Belisol 1:03:17 2. BOASSON HAGEN, E (NOR) Sky Procycling All at same time 3. HAUSSLER, H (AUS) Garmin-Barracuda 4. ROJAS, Jose J (ESP) Movistar 5. VON HOFF, S (AUS ) UNI SA-Australia 6. CANTWELL, J (AUS) Team Saxo Bank 7. SUTTON, C (AUS) Sky Procycling 8. GUTIERREZ, Jose I (ESP) Movistar 9. HENDERSON, G (NZL) Lotto-Belisol 10. PETACCHI, A (ITA) Lampre-ISD
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.