Germany’s Andre Greipel has become the second rider in the 12 year history of the Santos Tour Down Under to twice claim the crown after a phenomenal performance that saw him win three of the event’s six stages and, with the support of his HTC-Columbia team, fend off all challengers.
“The other teams had to do the work today if they wanted to win,” said Greipel. “We just stayed calm and managed our own race.”
“I am very happy to have won this race twice, the team have ridden well all week and we deserve this.”
The final 90 kilometre stage was raced in front of 124,000 fans on the Adelaide City Council Circuit with the peloton setting a cracking pace for the 20 laps of the 4.5 kilometre circuit.
Across the finish line Australian fans were thrilled to see Sydney’s Chris ‘CJ’ Sutton of Team Sky, sprint to victory ahead of his team mate Greg Henderson (NZL) with Rabobank’s Graeme Brown (AUS) third.
“I could not believe that sprint, we talked about our team tactics last night and it was all about team work, we took over control (of the peloton) with two kilometres to go and we had the perfect lead out,” said Sutton. “I was the last man to lead out Greg (Henderson).
“I went as long as I could and thought if ‘Hendy’ could come around me, he would. I held on and got the win and we got one and two, which is incredible!”
Back at the finish line Greipel and his team mates were ecstatic with the result which saw Greipel complete the six stage 794.5 kilometres in a total race time of 18hr47min05sec. Spaniard and 2005 Tour winner, Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d’Epargne) was second at 11 seconds and Henderson finished third at 15 seconds. Queensland’s Robbie McEwen was the highest placed Australian edging ahead of Luke Roberts for fourth place with both 17 seconds off Greipel’s time.
Stage Six was full of action with several riders still jostling for positions in the top ten overall making the time bonuses on offer for the two Jayco intermediate sprints very attractive. At the end of eight laps Henderson collected the three seconds ahead of South Africa’s Robbie Hunter (Garmin-Transitions) who claimed two seconds and Victoria’s Baden Cooke (Saxo Bank) picked up a one second bonus for third.
The second sprint saw McEwen fly from the bunch to mow down a lead group and collect three seconds ahead of Hunter with BMC’s George Hincapie (USA) third.
There were also two Skoda King of the Mountain climbs today over Montefiore Hill. The first was contested by a breakaway group with Frenchman Mikael Cherel (Francaise des Jeux) won the first ahead of Astana’s Valeriy Dmitriyev (KAZ) and category leader Rohregger.
On the second climb another group of escapees were clear of the peloton and Liquigas rider Fabio Sabatini (ITA) collected the maximum 16 points ahead of Sulzberger with Australia’s Trent Lowe third across the line. That trio along with Slovenian Marcel Sieberg (Astana) desperately tried to gain more time on the race but they were on a ‘hiding to nothing’ as this final stage of the race has always been decided in a bunch sprint.