Wippet wins but the day belongs to Dennis

Wouter Wippet (Drapac) won the Stage, but the home fans had the most reason to celebrate with the final standings seeing an Australian trifecta in the Santos Tour Down Under.

Adelaide born and bred rider Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) held on to his slender lead to win the 2015 Santos Tour Down Under, with Tasmanian Richie Porte (Team Sky) finishing 2nd overall and Victorian Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) third.

After crossing the line as champion, Dennis paid tribute to his teammates for their hard work during this Tour.

“It’s an incredible feeling to win the Santos Tour Down Under,” Dennis said. “Doing it with Cadel during his last World Tour race took a lot of pressure off me but I was not comfortable at all in this last stage.

“I was following Richie Porte in the sprints in case he’d go for the (time) bonus but I didn’t have to worry because my team rode awesome.

“I couldn’t fault them, they sat at the front and made sure I was out of the wind,” said Dennis. “Even when I got pushed back someone always dropped back and pulled forward.

“They have really helped me win this and made it a lot easier.”

BMC Racing General Manager Jim Ochowicz paid tribute to Dennis and suggested he is a rider for the future. Ochowicz said “We came here for Cadel, he tried, he got third, but Rohan was just better.”

While speaking of Evans, Ochowicz added “Cadel is so happy to end his career like this, it’s a great end to a great career.”

The Be Safe, Be Seen MAC Stage 6 took riders for 20 laps around the 4.5 kilometre circuit of Adelaide and was expected to result in a bunch sprint and a chance for Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) to win his first stage, but a nasty crash on the 2nd last lap took the big German out of calculations and left a group of about 50 riders to fight out the stage.

Drapac’s Wouter Wippert showed that he is a sprinter of the future as he was able to leave Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling) and Boris Vallee (Lotto-Soudal) in his wake and claim the Stage win.

“It was a really nervous race,” said Wippert. “The team rode all day in the front (but) I was a bit tired and I decided to go back but a teammate of mine took me to the front again ahead of the final sprint.

“I saw a crash happening but not much because the race was so fast,” Wippert said. “It’s fantastic to win here, being part of an Australian team in Australia for a World Tour race.”

Another local lad, Jack Bobridge (Uni SA) was confirmed as the winner of the Subaru King of the Mountain but despite his elation at winning the category, was disappointed he got caught up in the crash as he’d hoped to help von Hoff try for the stage win.

“I didn’t crash but I was caught behind the crash. It’s just bad because I wanted to help Steele von Hoff in the final sprint.

But the whole week has been fantastic and I couldn’t ask for much more” said Bobridge.

Darryl Impey (Orica-GreenEDGE) made sure that he would win the iiNET Sprint Classification by joining the early break and winning the first of two intermediate sprints.

That win gave Impey an unassailable lead in the race for the Sprinters jersey.

Movistar claimed the Team Classification, narrowly edging out BMC racing with Lotto-Soudal third.

Stage 6 Top 10: Adelaide, 90km

1 Wouter Wippert (NED) Drapac      1hr 56min 09sec

2 Heinrich Haussler (AUS) IAM Cycling

3 Boris Vallée (BEL) Lotto Soudal

4 Pavel Brutt (RUS) Tinkoff-Saxo

5 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEdge

6 Niccolò Bonifazio (ITA) Lampre-Merida

7 Steele von Hoff (AUS) UniSA-Australia

8 Ruslan Tleubayev (KAZ) Astana Pro Team

9 Rudiger Selig (GER) Team Katusha

10 Sébastien Chavanel (FRA) FDJ.fr

General Classification Top 10

1 Rohan Dennis (AUS) BMC Racing Team     19hr 15min 18sec

2 Richie Porte (AUS) Team Sky     0:00:02

3 Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC Racing Team     0:00:20

4 Tom Dumoulin (NED) Team Giant-Alpecin     0:00:22

5 Rubén Fernandez (ESP) Movistar Team     0:00:24

6 Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) AG2R La Mondiale     0:00:31

7 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEdge     0:00:35

8 Gorka Izagirre Insausti (ESP) Movistar Team     0:00:52

9 Jarlinson Pantano (COL) IAM Cycling     0:00:53

10 George Bennett (NZL) Team LottoNL-Jumbo     0:00:57

 

Wouter Wippert at the presentation Wippert is delighted to win Stage 6 The peloton on Stage 6 The peloton in action The jersey winners The champagne flows Team Sky on Stage 6 TDU Winner Rohan Dennis Rohan Dennis wins the 2015 TDU Kittel is disappointed at the finish Kittel had high hopes on the stage Evans salutes the crowd Dennis wears ochre in his hometown Dennis pops the champagne Dennis is well looked after Dennis in front of St Peters Cathedral Dennis celebrates with his family Dennis celebrates his win Daryl Impey celebrates Cricket Cadel expects a BMC win Cadel soaks up the atmosphere Cadel relaxes before his final stage Cadel passes on some advice to Rohan Cadel Evans soaks up the atmosphere Cadel Evans looks focused Cadel Evans finishes 3rd on GC An emotional Evans celebrates A well deserved drink for Dennis A happy Richie Porte 2015 Tour Down Under winner Rohan Dennis

Dennis retains Ochre despite Porte’s brilliant attack

Rohan Dennis has held on to his Ochre jersey despite a brilliant attack by Richie Porte on Willunga Hill in the penultimate stage of the Santos Tour Down Under.

Porte (Team Sky) launched his attack with less than two kilometres left on Stage 5, with Dennis and BMC teammate Cadel Evans able to go with him early, before Evans found the pace too hot and was dropped.

Dennis clung to Porte’s wheel with everything he had, but with 800 metres to go the pace Porte was pushing was too much, allowing him to pull away from Dennis.

It looked like Porte might be going well enough to gain the 15 seconds he needed to take the lead in the General Classification, but Dennis dug deep and used every ounce of strength to minimise the damage.

After the stage, a relieved Dennis said “Richie went, in hindsight, probably a bit too late because really he had better legs than me today so I gotta thank him but also my team was absolutely awesome, absolutely awesome.”

Porte thoroughly deserved the stage win but looked shattered to see that he had only taken 9 seconds off Dennis, meaning that once time bonuses were applied Dennis had a two second advantage in the GC.

There is still a chance that Porte could win the Tour Down Under in tomorrow’s final stage if he can match it with the sprinters and finish in the top 3; the time bonus would dislodge Dennis, provided Dennis does not also finish in the first 3 placings.

That task is much easier said than done, however, as there will be many teams interested in the stage win, and some very good sprinters likely to feature in the finish.

Porte, himself, admitted that he hasn’t given up hope yet.

“I am very happy to win the stage,” said Porte. “It’s a great way to start the year and my team has been fantastic.

Full credit to Rohan, I mean I gave it to him as hard as I could but it just wasn’t quite to be.

I was hoping to finish it (the GC race) off here but it’s so nice to win on this stage but it is a bit disappointing to be so close to the jersey but we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Evans battled on bravely to secure 4th spot on the stage and 3rd position on the GC, meaning a podium finish in his final World Tour race is likely, but he will have been bitterly disappointed that he didn’t have the legs when he needed them most.

Evans trails Dennis by 20 seconds so cannot secure a top 2 finish, but will need to make sure that Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) doesn’t pick up a time bonus, as he has a lead of just 2 seconds over the Dutchman.

Jack Bobridge (Uni SA) has sewn up the Subaru King of the Mountain title as he found his way into another breakaway, and though it disintegrated before the summit of the first climb up Willunga, Bobridge had enough legs to go solo and take the first lot of KOM points on offer.

Bobridge has had an outstanding Tour and has admitted that he may not proceed with his attempt at the Hour Record now.

Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEDGE) still leads the iiNET Sprint Classification with 39 points, with Evans 2nd on 37 and Dumoulin 3rd with 36 points. With a potential 25 points on offer for the stage and intermediate sprint winners on the final stage, there is plenty of interest remaining in this Classification.

The final stage is a 90km, 20 lap race around the Adelaide city streets, and a massive crowd is expected. They are certain to be saluting yet another Australian Tour winner, the only question is will be it Dennis or Porte.

Stage 5 Top 10: 151.5km, McLaren Vale – Willunga Hill

1 Richie Porte (AUS) Team Sky     3:37:32

2 Rohan Dennis (AUS) BMC Racing Team     0:00:09

3 Rubén Fernandez (ESP) Movistar Team     0:00:16

4 Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC Racing Team

5 Tom Dumoulin (NED) Team Giant-Alpecin

6 Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) AG2R La Mondiale     0:00:19

7 Tiago Machado (POR) Team Katusha     0:00:24

8 Moreno Moser (ITA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team     0:00:26

9 Gorka Izagirre Insausti (ESP) Movistar Team     0:00:28

10 Arnold Jeannesson (FRA) FDJ.fr

General Classification Top 10:

1 Rohan Dennis (AUS) BMC Racing Team     17hr 19min 09sec

2 Richie Porte (AUS) Team Sky     0:00:02

3 Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC Racing Team     0:00:20

4 Tom Dumoulin (NED) Team Giant-Alpecin     0:00:22

5 Rubén Fernandez (ESP) Movistar Team     0:00:24

6 Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) AG2R La Mondiale     0:00:31

7 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEdge     0:00:38

8 Tiago Machado (POR) Team Katusha     0:00:46

9 Gorka Izagirre Insausti (ESP) Movistar Team     0:00:52

10 Jarlinson Pantano (COL) IAM Cycling     0:00:53  BMC controlling the chase Evans and Dennis are well protected Plenty of Aussie support Riders strung out as the pace picks up Team Sky looking ominous The breakaway in Willunga

Von Hoff wins a crash marred Stage 4

Steele von Hoff (Uni SA) won a crash-marred Stage 4 of the Santos Tour Down Under, edging out Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Wouter Wippert (Drapac) in a sprint finish into the town of Mount Barker.

Most of the peloton either went down or could not get past the large crash that occurred with 150 metres left of the stage, and it looked incredibly nasty. There are no confirmed withdrawals from the race yet, but with the state of some of the riders seen crossing the line, there are likely to be some not starting tomorrow.

Von Hoff paid tribute to local teammate Jack Bobridge, stating “Jack was looking after me all the way, saying ‘be patient, be patient, I know these roads like the back of my hand’. I just trusted him and he delivered me to the front in the final kilometre.”

Von Hoff’s win capped a stellar day for the Uni SA team, with Bobridge reclaiming the King of the Mountain jersey.

Bobridge launched his assault on the KOM category by joining the four-man breakaway and then taking maximum KOM points on the climb up Sellicks Hill.

Bobridge is now four points clear of Dennis in the KOM with 20 points, and Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R-La Mondiale) third with 12 points.

Bobridge was part of a breakaway with Cedric Pineau (FDJ), Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky) and Michael Hepburn (Orica-GreenEDGE), though Pineau later complained that the group wasn’t working together and said “Bobridge was up there only for the KOM. Then Hepburn stopped contributing because his teammates wanted to do echelons at the front of the peloton.”

“Kennaugh stopped riding too so I just remained alone at the front.”

Pineau then added that he “continued but with no illusions. It’s frustrating to fight so hard for a breakaway with people who actually don’t want to stay away.”

Today’s result had no bearing on the General Classification with Rohan Dennis still holding a slender lead, meaning the race is likely to be decided with the famous stage that takes the riders up Willunga Hill twice, the latter being for the hilltop finish.

Dennis has an advantage of 7 seconds over teammate Cadel Evans, with Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) a further 2 seconds behind and Richie Porte (Team SKY) looming dangerously in fifth place, just 15 seconds behind Dennis.

It’s definitely a stage for the climbers and the big question is how will BMC Racing attack the stage? Dennis has previously had form on this climb, finishing 5th just 7 seconds behind winner Alejandro Valverde in 2012. Will BMC let Dennis ride his own race or will they pull rank and attempt to set the race up for Evans in his final World Tour event – a risky move given the quality of riders still within striking distance.

Impey’s second place today was enough to give him a commanding 10 point lead over Niccolo Bonfiazio (Lampre-Merida) in the Sprint Classification, with Evans third a further five points behind.

Stage 4 Top 10: Glenelg – Mt Barker

1 Steele von Hoff (AUS) UniSA-Australia 3hr 24min 28sec

2 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEDGE

3 Wouter Wippert (NED) Drapac

4 Heinrich Haussler (AUS) IAM Cycling

5 Samuel Dumoulin (FRA) Ag2R La Mondiale

6 Niccolo Bonifazio (ITA) Lampre Merida

7 Rudiger Selig (GER) Katusha

8 Gianni Meersman (BEL) Etixx-Quick Step

9 Eugenio Alafaci (ITA) Trek Factory Racing

10 Koen de Kort (AUS) Giant-Alpecin

General Classification Top 10

1 Rohan Dennis (AUS) BMC Racing 13hr 41min 34sec

2 Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC Racing 0:00:07

3 Tom Dumoulin (NED) Giant-Alpecin 0:00:09

4 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEDGE 0:00:13

5 Riche Porte (AUS) Sky 0:00:15

6 Jack Haig (AUS) UniSA-Australia

7  Michael Rogers (AUS) Tinkoff-Saxo

8 Ruben Fernandez (ESP) Movistar

9 Maxim Bouet (FRA) Etixx-Quick Step

10 Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) AG2R La Mondiale

You can view a spectator’s footage of the crash here:

The crash

BMC control the early stages Cadel Evans finishes safely Jack Bobridge leads the KOM again Kennaugh limps in after the crash Lars Boom and Maarten Tjallingii walk to the finish Marcel Kittel looking relaxed Rohan Dennis interviewed Rohan Dennis tosses his flowers to the crowd Stage winner Steele von Hoff Steele von Hoff sprints to victory The Breakaway rehydrate The bunch approaches the feed station The first breakaway attempt The Ochre Jersey takes on food The peloton on the Expressway Vladimir Isaichev may struggle to sleep tonight

Dennis attacks to win Stage 3

Rohan Dennis of BMC Racing catapulted himself into the overall lead of the Santos Tour Down Under after securing an emotional victory on Stage 3.

Dennis dedicated the win to his father, Brenton, who was unable to attend the stage as he was in hospital, having suffered a fractured pelvis in a bike crash earlier that day.

The climb up Torrens Hill was expected to shape the race and it didn’t disappoint, with Dennis riding away from teammate Cadel Evans and Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) 200 metres from the summit of the Category 1 King of the Mountain climb, then holding his advantage to the finish line a further 300 metres up the road to secure the stage win.

BMC had devised a plan to have Dennis attack halfway up the climb in order to set the race up for Evans but he wasn’t close enough to the front at that time.

There was some suggestion that Evans wasn’t impressed that Dennis decided to go for the stage win so late, although he was seen bumping fists with BMC support crew after the stage, suggesting he was happy to support his protégé.

When asked how the win would change the team’s plans, Dennis said “I have the ochre jersey now but Cadel and I are still both protected, there’s still Willunga and a lot of racing to come”.

Evans played down any talk of unrest in the team, stating after the race that “we had a plan, covering two bases, but I want to lend a favour to my teammates when I can, so we wanted to give Rohan and Peter (Stetina) the chance to make an attack anywhere they could. That move really worked for us, and I am sure Rohan is going to be pretty happy.”

The win saw Dennis move 7 seconds clear at the top of the General Classification, with Evans second and Dumoulin third, 9 seconds back.

A four-man breakaway containing Will Clarke (Drapac), Axel Domont (AG2R-La Mondiale), Lasse Norman Hansen (Cannondale-Garmin) and Calvin Watson (Trek Racing) formed early and stayed away for most of the day, and Clarke made the most of his time out in front by winning all 3 sprints to bank some useful pocket money.

Cadel Evans now shares the lead in the iiNet Sprint Classification with Tom Dumoulin, both riders amassing 25 points, with yesterday’s stage winner Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) just 1 point adrift in third position.

By taking the KOM points, Dennis has also assumed control of the Subaru King of the Mountain jersey, his total of 16 points giving him a lead of 4 over Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R-La Mondiale).

At just 24 years of age, Dennis also leads the Young Riders Classification, with Dumoulin just 9 seconds behind and Jack Haig (Uni SA) a further 6 seconds back.

Much of the interest now will focus around the tactics of BMC; will they continue to try setup Evans for the overall win in his final World Tour Race or will they work for Dennis? It is likely to all depend on the two climbs up Willunga Hill on Stage 5, as tomorrow’s Stage 4 is expected to result in a bunch sprint.

Tomorrow sees the race take in 144km from seaside Glenelg to Mount Barker in the Adelaide Hills, and with the course following the coastline for the first 44kms, it is sure to make for picturesque viewing.

Stage 3 Top 10: 143.2km, Norwood – Paracombe

1 Rohan Dennis (AUS) BMC Racing 3hr 35min 8sec

2 Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC Racing 0:00:03

3 Tom Dumoulin (NED) Giant-Alpecin

4 Maxim Bouet (FRA) Etixx-Quick Step 0:00:05

5 Michael Rogers (AUS) Tinkoff-Saxo

6 Riche Porte (AUS) Sky

7 Jack Haig (AUS) UniSA-Australia

8 Ruben Fernandez (ESP) Movistar

9 Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) AG2R La Mondiale

10 Simon Geschke (GER) Giant-Alpecin 0:00:13

General Classification Top 10

1 Rohan Dennis (AUS) BMC Racing 10hr 17min 6sec

2 Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC Racing 0:00:07

3 Tom Dumoulin (NED) Giant-Alpecin 0:00:09

4 Riche Porte (AUS) Sky 0:00:15

5 Jack Haig (AUS) UniSA-Australia

6 Ruben Fernandez (ESP) Movistar

7 Michael Rogers (AUS) Tinkoff-Saxo

8 Maxim Bouet (FRA) Etixx-Quick Step

9 Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) AG2R La Mondiale

10 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEDGE 0:00:22

Breakaway basket range Bunch through feed station Calvin Watson takes food Evans after finish Evans looking relaxed Kennaugh prepares Kittel gets ready Paracombe cheer Dennis Peloton heading towards Lobethal Peloton ready to roll Puccio interviewed Riders seeking shade Rohan Dennis after finish Scenic views for breakaway Simon Clarke after finish Sky head the peloton Sky on the front Sky travel in style

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Lobato too strong for rivals on Stage 2

Spaniard Juan Jose Lobato del Valle of Movistar was simply too strong for his rivals when it mattered most, sprinting his way to victory on the second stage of the 2015 Santos Tour Down Under. Daryl Imprey (Orica-GreenEDGE) was second with Lobato’s Movistar teammate Gorka Izaguirre holding on for third.

Natahn Haas (Cannondale-Garmin) tried his luck with a cheeky sprint 300 metres from home that didn’t pay off and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) tried in vain to outsprint Lobato but no one could match the power of Lobato, who was also impressive when finishing 2nd to Marcel Kittel in the People’s Choice Classic on Sunday.

Lobato was deservedly proud of his efforts on the stage and said “It’s a victory on a different type of terrain for me. I’m coming here in good form, but thanks to God, I was able to delivery victory for the team”.

The 151 kilometre stage took riders from Unley to Stirling through the undulating Adelaide Hills and despite cooler than usual conditions for this time of year, it was a testing stage for riders with many dropped by the time the riders reached the King of the Mountain in Basket Range.

The KOM points were taken by Thomas De Gendt of Lotto-Soudal, who was part of a strong three-man breakaway along with Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Campbell Flakemore (BMC Racing). Unfortunately for Flakemore, his day would get a lot worse, breaking his collarbone riding home from the Stage finish and ending his Tour.

With three big name riders in the break, the peloton was in no mood to let a break succeed two days in a row and the escapees were reeled in with 30 kilometres left in the stage.

Local boy Jack Bobridge (Uni SA) retained the Ochre jersey and overall lead in the General Classification, but his gap is now just 3 seconds of Lobato, with Lieuwe Westra (Astana) third, 4 seconds behind Bobridge. Bobridge admitted that holding the lead has changed the focus of the race for his team, stating that “I came here to look after the young guys but now I’m in the jersey I’m 100% focused on defending this ochre jersey. I’ll go for the hour record next week but for now it’s all for this jersey”

Today’s win has given Lobato 24 points and the lead in the Sprint Classification, with Bobridge and Impey tied for second with 20 points.

Young Italian rider Niccolo Bonifazio (Lampre) finished 6th in the stage and it was enough to give him the overall lead in the Young Riders Classification.

The Tour Down Under continues tomorrow with Stage 3 taking the riders on a 143 kilometre journey from Norwood to Paracombe that includes the nasty Category 1 climb up Torrens Hill.

Top 10 Stage 2:

1          Juan Jose LOBATO DEL VALLE – Movistar        3:42:24

2          Daryl IMPEY – Orica-GreenEDGE 00”

3          Gorka IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI – Movistar            00”

4          Tom DUMOULIN – Team Giant-Alpecin 00”

5          Cadel EVANS – BMC Racing – 00”

6          Luis Leon SANCHEZ GIL – Astana – 00”

7          Richie PORTE – Team Sky – 00”

8          Niccolo BONIFAZIO – Lampre-Merida – 00”

9          Nathan HAAS – Cannondale-Garmin – 00”

10       Samuel Dumoulin – AG2R-La Mondiale – 00”

Top 10 General Classification:

1          Jack BOBRIDGE – Uni SA – 6:41:55

2          Juan Jose LOBATO DEL VALLE – Movistar 3”

3          Lieuwe WESTRA – Astana – 4”

4          Daryl IMPEY – Orica-GreenEDGE – 7”

5          Gorka IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI – Movistar – 9”

6          Niccolo BONIFAZIO – Lampre-Merida – 13”

7          Gianni MEERSMAN – Ettix-Quick Step – 13”

8          Samuel DUMOULIN – AG2R-La Mondiale – 13”

9          Nathan HAAS – Cannondale-Garmin – 13”

10       Cadel EVANS – BMC Racing – 13”

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Bobridge wins Tour Down Under Stage 1

Adelaide boy Jack Bobridge, riding for wild card local team UniSA, thrilled his home fans with a perfectly timed sprint to take out Stage 1 of the 2015 Santos Tour Down Under.

Bobridge was part of a four man breakaway along with Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEDGE), Maxim Belkov (Katusha) and Lieuwe Westra (Astana) that formed within the opening 10 kilometres of the stage. After initially missing the break, Bobridge made the decision to ride across the gap and join up with the three escapees, a move that paid off handsomely as he was able to leave his companions when it counted and record his first Tour Down Under stage win.

Belkov attacked the other members of the breakaway repeatedly over the last couple of kilometres, but Bobridge was patient, waiting for the road to start to climb in the last few hundred metres before launching his attack. What was most surprising that the breakaway was still away as the peloton never let the gap get out of hand, but somehow managed to get the timing of closing down the gap wrong and they could be seen bearing down on Bobridge as he sat up to celebrate his victory but it was all too late.

The win shows just what a bold move Bobridge made late last year when he decided to leave Europe to sign with Budget Forklifts in Australia with an eye on track success in 2016. Clearly he has all the necessary attributes for the tough Pro road circuit in Europe and you have to wonder if he is now wondering if he made the right decision. Bobridge, so often found in breakaways at the Tour Down Under, was thrilled to finally breakthrough for a win, saying “I haven’t really come close before in a stage win here. I’ve always been aggressive. But to take out the first stage and wear the leader’s jersey tomorrow – I’m speechless, I don’t know what to say”

The stage kicked off under clear skies from the town of Tanunda in the Barossa Valley, with a massive crowd lining the streets.

Borbridge won the first iiNET sprint in the town of Bethany from Westra and Belkov. The second iiNET sprint, also in Bethany was won by Durbridge with Belkov second and Westra third.

The King of the Mountain took the riders up Checker Hill, which was noticeably damaged by the recent bushfires and provided a surreal backdrop as the riders tackled their first real climb this season. Bobridge was first to reach the summit, with Durbridge second and Westra third.

An estimated 85,000 fans lined the streets for the opening stage, and at least as many are expected to turn out for tomorrow’s 150km stage from Unley to Stirling. Bobridge will start tomorrow in the Ochre jersey as leader of the General Classification with a 4 second gap to Westra in second after time bonuses were applied and Durbridge a further 2 seconds back.

Bobridge also leads the Sprint Classification on 15 points, with Westra accruing 14 points and Durbridge third with 13 points. The King of the Mountain Classification also belongs to Bobridge with 10 points, Durbridge has 6 and Westra 4.

Durbridge was named the Most Aggressive Rider for Stage 1 and also leads the Young Riders Classification.

Top ten from Stage 1, with GC gaps

1 Jack Bobridge (UniSA-Australia) 2:59:31
2 Lieuwe Westra (Astana) +0:04
3 Luke Durbridge (Orica GreenEdge) +0:06
4 Maxim Belkov (Katusha) +0:10
5 Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida +0:13
6 Gianni Meersman (Quick-Step) +0:13
7 Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) +0:13
8 Heinrich Haussler (IAM) +0:13
9 Steele von Hoff (UniSA-Australia) 0:13
10 Daryl Impey (Orica GreenEdge) +0:13

Kittel kicks off 2015 with a great win

Marcel Kittel wasted no time in registered his first win in 2015 by winning the People Choice Classic for the second year running. The Classic is a 30 lap, 51 kilometre criterium around the city streets of Adelaide that opens the Tour Down Under each year, and although there are no points or time bonuses award for Tour standings, the riders are always keen to blow away the cobwebs on the fast circuit.

Kittel’s Giant-Alpecin team controlled the race from the outset and the big German didn’t let them down, timing his sprint to perfection and proving too strong for Movistar’s Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle and Wouter Wippert of Drapac who rounded out the placings.

Approximately 95,000 fans turned out to watch the Classic and say farewell to Cadel Evans as he rides his final Tour.

But despite a bout of pre-first race of the season nerves – Kittel suggesting he was perhaps even more nervous than before the final stage of last year’s Tour de France on the Champs-Elysees – it was the German who wowed the crowd with his turn of speed. When asked how it felt to win again in Adelaide, Kittel said “This is my third time in South Australia and I really like this place,” he said. “I like it even more when I win like today.”

Things weren’t always comfortable for Giant-Alpecin, with a 4 man breakaway of Mathew Hayman (Orica-GreenEDGE), Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky), Calvin Watson (Trek Factory Racing) and Dario Cataldo (Astana) opening up a 30 second gap over the peloton, but they were reeled in with 8 laps to go.

The Tour Down Under proper will kick off the 2015 UCI World Tour on Tuesday with a 132 kilometre stage from Tanunda to Campbelltown with the tough Checker Hill ride sure to test the legs of the riders after the off season.

People’s Choice Classic Results
1 Marcel KITTEL (Team Giant-Alpecin)
2 Juan Jose LOBATO DEL VALLE (Movistar)
3 Wouter WIPPERT (Drapac)
4 Christopher SUTTON (Team SKY)
5 Heinrich HAUSSLER (IAM Cycling)
6 Gianni MEERSMAN (Etixx-Quickstep)
7 Rudiger SELIG (Katusha)
8 Samuel DUMOULIN (AG2R La Mondiale)
9 Mark RENSHAW (Etixx-Quickstep)
10 Greg HENDERSON Greg (Lotto-Soudal)

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