Cadel Evans on the pace as Simon Gerrans grabs first stage of Tour Down Under
Australian rider Simon Gerrans outsprinted Germany’s Andre Greipel to win the opening stage of the Tour Down Under on Tuesday, taking an emphatic step toward winning the opening event of cycling’s ProTour season for a third time.
A demanding climb up Mengler’s Hill 12 kilometres from the end of the 135km stage from Nurioopta to Angaston in South Australia took several of the top sprinters out of contention. Greipel stayed near the lead and seemed set for his 15th stage victory in Australia when he hit the front early on the uphill sprint the finish. Gerrans, who won his home tour in 2006 and 2012, was able to chase Greipel down thanks to a strong leadout from his Orica-GreenEDGE teammate Daryl Impey.
Australia’s 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans finished ninth in the lead pack.
Organisers had feared the first stage might not take place as scheduled because of fears of wildfires in the region, but those fears receded. South Australia has been ravaged by four wildfires in heatwave conditions over the past week.
The Tour Down Under, raced over six stages in the region around Adelaide, is the first event of the 2014 WorldTour.