World champ Sagan wins prelude to Tour Down Under

Leslie Hanson
January 16, 2018

German Andre Greipel snatched his 148th professional victory when he claimed an emotional win in the Tour Down Under opening stage on Tuesday.

Last year's victor Richie Porte (BMC) goes into the race as favourite to secure a second consecutive victory - and become the first rider to claim back-to-back wins in the race's 20-year history.

This year's race features some of the biggest names in sprinting, including world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) and Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors). Sunday's race does not count toward general classification.

Greipel said the sprint had worked out perfectly for him.

"It's nice to be back here this way after a few years of absence".

"Because of the heat, the racing isn't that stressful", Greipel said. "Unfortunately, we were already one rider down before the start, so we just made the work for the other teams who had to make the chase so we could wait until the final and set a good bunch sprint up".

He was riding at a disadvantage after his Lotto Soudal team lost one rider before the stage began.

Australian pair William Clarke (Education First-Drapac) and Scott Bowden (UniSA) were joined by South Africa's Nicholas Dlamini (Team Dimension Data), with the three opening up a four-and-a-half minute lead after 35 kilometres.

As they parried the peloton turned up the pace and with 50km of road left the time gap was down to two minutes.

Bowden eventually dropped off while Clarke and Dlamini went on with the breakaway and battling for the major sprint and mountains points on offer.

But Greipel stayed right on Ewen's wheel and he swung out 50 metres from the finish line to storm past the Australian for a clear win.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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