Events

German sprinter steals the show Down Under

It was an unpredictable precursor to the Tour Down Under as Germany's André Greipel, a relative unknown to most, upstaged his more fancied local talent to claim first blood among the sprinters in the Down Under Classic. The fourth-year pro, not quite as muscled as his Australian counterparts Robbie McEwen and Mark Renshaw - the two riders he convincingly beat to the line Sunday evening in Glenelg - patiently waited for Graeme Brown's Rabobank train to tire before his High Road crew placed him in the hot seat two-and-a-half laps from home.

By Anthony Tan

André Greipel takes the 2008 Down Under Classic

Photo: Graham Watson

It was an unpredictable precursor to the Tour Down Under as Germany’s André Greipel, a relative unknown to most, upstaged his more fancied local talent to claim first blood among the sprinters in the Down Under Classic.

The fourth-year pro, not quite as muscled as his Australian counterparts Robbie McEwen and Mark Renshaw – the two riders he convincingly beat to the line Sunday evening in Glenelg – patiently waited for Graeme Brown’s Rabobank train to tire before his High Road crew placed him in the hot seat two-and-a-half laps from home.

“The Rabobank team was all in front but they lost a lot of energy, especially the last two or three laps. We [High Road] said, ‘Okay, now they are really tired, we’ll start to pull now,’” explained Greipel.

But once there, the 25-year-old said, the rest was up to him.

Almost two months’ solid winter training kept the double stage winner in last year’s Sachsen-Tour in perfect position till the bell lap, and in what turned out to be a 300-meter drag race to the line between Greipel and Renshaw, the Rostock native found his legs spinning just that little bit quicker to win by half a wheel.

“That’s why I’m here; I started training early and I’m really happy to win the first race of the season,” he said. “Before the race, my teammates said we’ll do the work for me, so I was responsible to win today.

“The last corner, I think the front guys found it difficult because of the sun and maybe the wind; I came from 10th position and it was … perfect.”

McEwen already admitted just prior to the race today he wasn’t in top shape, preferring to concentrate on his first major objective, still two months away.

“Over the summer, I haven’t raced as much as the last couple of years and that was a conscious choice – I’m aiming a bit further into the season,” said McEwen. “Although I’m feeling really good, I’m not at the level I was at in my better years at the Tour Down Under – but I’m certainly not bad. I’m still going to give 100 percent, but we’ll see if I can come all right out the other end.”

Added McEwen: “I want to have a real good crack at Milan-San Remo again and some of the northern classics, in particular Gent-Wevelgem, before my build-up towards the Giro. Last year, I had really good form in March by being just a little bit underdone in the second half of January, so I’ll stay with that program.”

The clock strikes seven
It was about as late a start as you could have it before the race would have been declared a night match, with floodlights and all setting the streets of Glenelg alight.

Described by Astana’s Aussie sprinter Aaron Kemps as a very free-flowing course, the circuit had “bunch sprint” written all over it with just five turns in 2km, the second-to-last being a hairpin before a final turn took the riders onto a 400-meter finishing straight on Colley Terrace.

Rabobank’s Bram de Groot decided to go from the gun, and this scenario of ones, two, threes and fours launching themselves off the front without much hope set the scene for virtually the entire 25-lap race. With a crowd of sprinters in the hunt, no breakaway lasted more than a lap, each circuit being clocked under three minutes, the attacks and ensuing lulls like the ebb and flow of a tide and just about as interesting.

With nine laps remaining Rabobank tried to control the situation for Brown, but even with the might of all six men working for him, it proved too large a task for just one team to manage.

As the sun began its journey below the horizon, the fading light and cold wind appeared to be to the detriment of those in front, barring Greipel, who shot from behind to take the victory from Renshaw and McEwen.

Photo Gallery

Results

1. Andre Greipel (G), Team High Road, at 1:09:20

2. Mark Renshaw (Aus), Crédit Agricole, same time

3. Robbie McEwen (Aus), Silence-Lotto, s.t.

4. Allan Davis (Aus), Unisa-Australia, s.t.

5. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Sp), Caisse D’Epargne, s.t.

6. Davide Vigano (I), Quick Step, s.t.

7. Denis Flahaut (F), Saunier Duval-Scott, s.t.

8. Mathew Hayman (Aus), Rabobank, s.t.

9. Mirco Lorenzetto (I), Lampre, s.t.

10. Peter Wrolich (A), Gerolsteiner, s.t.

11. Aurelien Clerc (Swi), Bouygues Telecom, s.t.

12. Erki Putsep (Est), Bouygues Telecom, s.t.

13. Rene Haselbacher (A), Astana, s.t.

14. Xavier Florencio Cabre (Sp), Bouygues Telecom, s.t.

15. Adam Hansen (Aus), Team High Road, s.t.

16. Aitor Galdos Alonso (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.

17. Graeme Brown (Aus), Rabobank, s.t.

18. Lloyd Mondory (F), Ag2R-La Mondiale, s.t.

19. Mario Aerts (B), Silence-Lotto, s.t.

20. Pierre Rolland (F), Crédit Agricole, at, at 0:04

21. Pieter Jacobs (B), Silence-Lotto, s.t.

22. Jan Robert Forster (G), Gerolsteiner, s.t.

23. Marcus Burghardt (G), Team High Road, s.t.

24. Igor Astarloa Ascasibar (Sp), Team Milram, at 0:07

25. Heinrich Friederich Haussler (G), Gerolsteiner, s.t.

26. William Walker (Aus), Rabobank, at,0:12

27. Koen De Kort (Ned), Astana, at 0:13

28. Jeremy Hunt (GB), Crédit Agricole, at 0:16

29. Sebastien Portal (F), Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone, s.t.

30. Christophe Kern (F), Crédit Agricole, at 0:23

31. Joan Horrach Rippoll (Sp), Caisse D’Epargne, s.t.

32. Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun), Crédit Agricole, s.t.

33. Josep Jufre Pou (Sp), Saunier Duval-Scott, s.t.

34. Mickael Buffaz (F), Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone, s.t.

35. Philippe Gilbert (B), Française des Jeux, s.t.

36. Lars Ytting Bak (Den), Team CSC, s.t.

37. Sylvain Calzati (F), Ag2R-La Mondiale, s.t.

38. Nicki Sorensen (Den), Team CSC, s.t.

39. Kjell Carlstrom (Fin), Liquigas, s.t.

40. Mauro Da Dalto (I), Liquigas, s.t.

41. Amets Txurruka (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.

42. Jose Alberto Benitez Roman (Sp), Saunier Duval-Scott, s.t.

43. Paolo Fornaciari (I), Lampre, s.t.

44. Michael Albasini (Swi), Liquigas, s.t.

45. Jean-Eudes Demaret (F), Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone, at 0:27

46. Christophe Mengin (F), Française des Jeux, s.t.

47. Dimitri Champion (F), Bouygues Telecom, s.t.

48. Thomas Fothen (G), Gerolsteiner, at 0:29

49. Dmytro Grabovskyy (Ukr), Quick Step, s.t.

50. Wesley Sulzberger (Aus), Unisa-Australia, s.t.

51. Benoit Joachim (Lux), Astana, s.t.

52. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), Team CSC, s.t.

53. Matthew Harley Goss (Aus), Team CSC, s.t.

54. Emanuele Bindi (I), Lampre, s.t.

55. Jerome Pineau (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 0:31

56. Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.

57. Martin Elmiger (Swi), Ag2R-La Mondiale, s.t.

58. Wim Vansevenant (B), Silence-Lotto, s.t.

59. Matthew Lloyd (Aus), Silence-Lotto, s.t.

60. Pablo Lastras Garci (Sp), Caisse D’Epargne, s.t.

61. Jose Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Sp), Caisse D’Epargne, s.t.

62. Frantisek Rabon (Cze), Team High Road, at 0:34

63. Julien Mazet (F), Astana, s.t.

64. Matthew Wilson (Aus), Unisa-Australia, at 0:36

65. Simon Gerrans (Aus), Crédit Agricole, s.t.

66. Rick Flens (Ned), Rabobank, s.t.

67. Christophe Le Mevel (F), Crédit Agricole, s.t.

68. Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr), Ag2R-La Mondiale, s.t.

69. Andoni Lafuente (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.

70. Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra), Liquigas, at 0:39

71. Mauro Facci (I), Quick Step, s.t.

72. Massimiliano Mori (I), Lampre, s.t.

73. Alessandro Proni (I), Quick Step, s.t.

74. Leonardo Scarselli (I), Quick Step, s.t.

75. Jesus Del Nero Montes (Sp), Saunier Duval-Scott, s.t.

76. Enrico Poitschke (G), Team Milram, s.t.

77. Jeremy Roy (F), Française des Jeux, s.t.

78. Nicolas Crosbie (F), Bouygues Telecom, s.t.

79. Renaud Dion (F), Ag2R-La Mondiale, s.t.

80. Laurent Mangel (F), Ag2R-La Mondiale, s.t.

81. Amael Moinard (F), Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone, s.t.

82. Kevin Seeldraeyers (B), Quick Step, s.t.

83. Luke Roberts (Aus), Unisa-Australia, s.t.

84. Simon Clarke (Aus), Unisa-Australia, s.t.

85. Francesco Gavazzi (I), Lampre, s.t.

86. Mickael Delage (F), Française des Jeux, s.t.

87. Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den), Team CSC, s.t.

88. Jose Luis Rubiera Vigil (Sp), Astana, at 0:44

89. Karl Menzies (Aus), Unisa-Australia, s.t.

90. Dennis Haueisen (G), Team Milram, s.t.

91. Kurt Asle Arvesen (Nor), Team CSC, at 1:01

92. Bernhard Eisel (A), Team High Road, s.t.

93. Scott Davis (Aus), Team High Road, s.t.

94. Martin Muller (G), Team Milram, s.t.

95. Olivier Kaisen (B), Silence-Lotto, s.t.

96. Allan Johansen (Den), Team CSC, s.t.

97. Jon Bru Pascal (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.

98. Ivan Velasco Murillo (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.

99. Steve Morabito (Swi), Astana, s.t.

100. Mathieu Perget (F), Caisse D’Epargne, s.t.

101. Richie Porte (Aus), Unisa-Australia, s.t.

102. Matthias Russ (G), Gerolsteiner, s.t.

103. Ruben Lobato Elvira (Sp), Saunier Duval-Scott, s.t.

104. Brett Lancaster (Aus), Team Milram, s.t.

105. Bram De Groot (Ned), Rabobank, s.t.

106. Volker Ordowski (G), Gerolsteiner, s.t.

107. Theo Elltink (Ned), Rabobank, s.t.

108. Nick Gates (Aus), Silence-Lotto, s.t.

109. Tom Stubbe (B), Française des Jeux, s.t.

110. Sergio Ghisalberti (I), Team Milram, s.t.

111. Stephane Poulhies (F), Ag2R-La Mondiale, s.t.

112. Christian Murro (I), Lampre, at 1:11

113. David Moncoutie (F), Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone, s.t.

114. Yann Huguet (F), Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone, s.t.

115. Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro), Liquigas, s.t.

116. Ivan Santaromita Villa (I), Liquigas, s.t.

117. Nicolas Hartmann (F), Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone, s.t.

118. Nicolas Portal (F), Caisse D’Epargne, at 1:19

119. Carlo Westphal (G), Gerolsteiner, s.t.

120. Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Sp), Caisse D’Epargne, s.t.

121. Fabio Baldato (I), Lampre, at 1:31

122. Javier Aramendia Lorenti (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 1:34

123. Timothy Gudsell (NZl), Française des Jeux, at 1:55

DNF: Elia Rigotto (I), Team Milram

DNF: Aaron Kemps (Aus), Astana

DNF: Yoann Offredo (F), Française des Jeux

DNF: Jan Boven (Ned), Rabobank

DNF: Iker Camano Ortuzar (Sp), Saunier Duval-Scott

DNS: Evgeny Sokolov (Rus), Bouygues Telecom

DNS: Greg Henderson (NZl), Team High Road

DNS: Kevin Van Impe (B), Quick Step

DNS: Valerio Agnoli (I), Liquigas

DNS: Arkaitz Duran Daroca (Sp), Saunier Duval-Scott