Cycling is back, and Adelaide came alive to celebrate the start of the 2013 season with a massive crowd lining the streets of the East End to watch the People’s Choice Classic. The weather was perfect for the fans, with many decked out in green and white polka dot Skoda bucket hats they’d received from the Tour Down Under convoy. It was a party like atmosphere as the fans welcomed a return to racing after a tough for days for the sport of cycling.
It was fantastic to see the riders line up while the national anthem was sung, with many of the teams sporting stylish new kits and new names and sponsors. Once the race started it took just 200 metres from the start for normality to restored in the cycling world, with everyones favourite rider Jens Voigt attacking the peloton and creating a breakaway, joined by UniSA Australia rider Zak Dempster.
Voigt and Dempster did a good job staying away, with Dempster picking up all 3 intermediate sprints and earning himself some nice pocket money, but ultimately the breakaway was doomed and the peloton caught them not far from the finish.
The sprint trains of Argos-Shimano, Team Sky, Garmin-Sharp, Team SaxoTinkoff, Movistar and Lotto Belisol all took turns in controlling the race, but it was the train of Lotto Belisol, looking very striking with the new splash of yellow on one sleeve, that was able to have most men standing as the bell rang for the last lap.
Local hope Matt Goss of Orica Greenedge jumped on the wheel of the big German Andre Greipel, but the Lotto Belisol powerhouse had too much power and Greipel crossed the line with his arms aloft for a record third time in this race. Goss finished second with Greipel’s lead-out man Greg Henderson in third.
Racing proper starts Tuesday with Stage 1 from Prospect to Lobethal, and after another hard fought Classic to whet the appetite, it can’t come soon enough.