Tour Down Under – Stage 01

The opening day of racing in the 2013 WorldTour was a day when the only categorised climb was early in the stage (at 41km) but there was some sting on the undulating 135km race from the suburb of Prospect in Adelaide’s north to Lobethal. Jordan Kerby of the local conglomerate team Uni SA was the early escapee who gained as much as seven minutes but after 100km he was back in the peloton and switched into survival mode.

 

Geert van Bondt was kind enough to let RIDE’s editor, Rob Arnold, in the passenger seat on the Garmin-Sharp team car for stage one. Here the Belgian DS hands some bottles to Nathan Haas.

 

With over 1,000m of climbing, the finishing circuits – through Charlestown, Woodside and Lobethal – offered a setting for opportunists to try and gain an advantage on the peloton. The pending capture of Kerby provided the catalyst for Jérôme Pineau to try his luck. The Frenchman is one of two GC riders on the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team and he sought a few bonus seconds from the second intermediate sprint… which he achieved, albeit not quite the way he would have liked as he was passed by the world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) in the final metres.

It ended in a bunch sprint with André Greipel easily beating Arnaud Démare and Mark Renshaw for stage honours, but the time bonuses from the intermediate sprints already offer a hint of who is chasing the GC this week: Simon Gerrans (OGE), Thomas De Gendt (VCD), Pineau and Gilbert all put themselves in the top seven of the overall standings.

 

– For the full results, see the race’s official site – 

 

After the race, RIDE spoke with several riders to get their take on the racing. Here are the reactions from Pineau and Greipel’s lead-out man, Mr Greg Henderson…

Jérôme Pineau: “I’m happy because I feel good”

“Before the bonus sprint I saw that there were two groups and I tried for the first time to make a breakaway. Why not? Then, when I saw that I had an advantage of one minute, I continued to ride until the bonification because I know that here the GC can be decided on bonuses. One or two seconds can be important.

“My big mistake was that I thought I was alone… I stopped my effort 100 metres before the line and I saw [Philippe] Gilbert racing past me. Still, I got two seconds and that’s okay.

“I’m in good condition actually.

“We have two guys here for the GC, Peter Velits and myself… and while an extra two seconds is not a lot of time, it’s valuable.

“We saw a lot of riders who were tired today, some without very good condition. Perhaps that’s because of the warm weather but also… this circuit was very hard. It’s very up and down.

“After 80km we had 1,000 metres of climbing. That’s hard. I like it when it’s like this – up and down… so I knew it was the sort of circuit for me, so I tried for that. And I also wanted to test myself a little bit before tomorrow because that’s also a hard stage. We’ll see how it goes.

“I’m happy because I feel good.”

“Tomorrow I’ll be waiting for the last climb. Peter is the leader of the team and I’ll try to help him as long as possible and if I can stay in the first group then this two-second bonus from today may count a lot to the final result.”

 

 

 

Greg Henderson: “It was hard, don’t get me wrong…”

“We were pretty smart there at the finish. Sky tried to take it on with us and full credit has to go to them but we just outsmarted them today.

“[Mathew] Hayman tried to set [the sprint] up early so we just sort of sat in behind him and used him. He didn’t know that we were getting shelter and he never looked to see who he was giving shelter to. And then, when we took off, they just didn’t have an answer because we’d been saving ourselves.

“Everything is going really well. We’re happy, we motivated… but we could get beaten tomorrow or the next day. Let’s not get too carried away, hey? It’s the first race of the season.

“It’s nice to have the [leader’s] jersey and the way he [Greipel] won as well was great. I’ve led him out so many times that I know when he steps off my wheel, my helmet almost gets sucked sideways when he’s going really well. And he was really powerful off the wheel today.

“It was incredible really. I didn’t have to even do too much.

“We had that beautiful downhill [leading to the 5km to go mark] when we could get some rest and then [Jurgen] Roelandts went to the corner and his lead-out was long. But we’d had our nice rest when we could all rest our legs… I just went around the corner, accelerated up to speed and just inside the final 200 metres Greipel took off and that was it. He finished with a gap of 20 metres on second place.

“André is always good here for some reason. He’s a very diligent athlete. He trains very hard and he’s ready.

“Today there were short power climbs and he could make it.

“It was hard, don’t get me wrong. We had to set a fast tempo so that none of these Gilbert-style riders could attack but André is so bloody strong and if we take care of him in the last five or six kilometres and he sees the line with 200 metres to go… then he’s almost unbeatable obviously.

“We weren’t 100 per cent certain it was going to be a bunch sprint because of how ‘nuggety’ the course was. And Argos-Shimano was the same… but we thought, ‘Right, let’s try what we can’. We’ve got the two fastest sprinters in the race, so let’s have a go at it.

“I wonder what would have happened if a big group did go because teams like Orica and the other GC teams can’t afford to let a lot of guys go – that’s the race over if that happens. If we were in trouble and it didn’t look like it was coming back for a bunch sprint, I’m sure we would have got even more support.

“It’s the WorldTour; you can’t have the race decided by a bunch that goes up the road on day one.”

 

– Interviews by Rob Arnold

 

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Author: rob@ride

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