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)