André Greipel sprints to defend his People’s Choice Classic criterium title
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Sunday, January 20, 2013

André Greipel sprints to defend his People’s Choice Classic criterium title

by Ben Atkins at 5:20 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour Down Under
 
German Gorilla powers to his third Down Under opener

andre greipelAndré Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) sprinted to victory on the streets of downtown Adelaide to take his third victory in the People’s Choice Classic criterium, the traditional precursor to the Santos Tour Down Under. The German ‘Gorilla’ was led to the finishing straight by a powerful performance from his Lotto-Belisol team - which, along with French team FDJ, had controlled the 52km race for long periods - and managed to hold off the attentions of 2011 race winner Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) to successfully defend the race that he won the year before.

Greg Henderson, Greipel’s Lotto-Belisol lead out man, held on to take third, ahead of the splintering head of the main peloton.

The high-octane race, run around 30 laps of a 1.7km circuit, was characterised by a two-man breakaway from irrepressible veteran Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Leopard), and Net App-Endura rider Zak Dempster, riding for the local UniSA team, but the sprinters’ teams always had things under control and the race was all together in plenty of time for a controlled finish.

The race set off under sunny evening skies on Adelaide’s East End, and Voigt and Dempster escaped in the very first lap. The only notable incident in the peloton behind the two riders was Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge) having to change his bike; the Australian champion was soon safely back in the bunch as it kept control of the gap.

Argos-Shimano and Lotto-Belisol kept Voigt and Dempster under control throughout the first half of the race, as the Australian rider picked up the primes at the end of laps five, ten and 15. The gap was never to grow to more than 20 seconds and, as Dempster took the fourth prime at the end of lap 20, it was down to just 15.

The pace of the peloton now began to increase considerably and, despite their hard work, the two fugitives were finally reeled in on the 21st lap.

The peloton briefly slowed, so as to prolong the agony of the breakaway duo for a few final seconds, before Argos-Shimano and Lotto-Belisol began to string it out again to prevent anybody else from escaping. Saxo-Tinkoff soon joined the paceline, keeping the speed high, but with six laps to go the Garmin-Sharp team came forward to take over.

Having done so much of the work in the first half of the race, FDJ was not to be denied, and pulled ahead again but, with the finish now approaching, several other teams began to push their riders forward; Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Blanco, Lampre-Merida, Team Sky, Orica-GreenEdge and Argos-Shimano were all visible at the front of the peloton as it entered the final laps.

With two laps to go Orica-GreenEdge took over from Argos-Shimano, but they in turn were edged out by first Saxo-Tinkoff and then Lotto-Belisol. The Belgian team now had its entire team lined up on the front of the bunch as it took the bell.

Under the flamme rouge, and into the final kilometre, Team Sky was trying to move itself forward again, but Lotto-Belisol refused to move in the battle of shoulders and Henderson led Greipel into the final corner; tearing a small group off the head of the peloton as he did so.

The big German opened up his sprint with 200 metres to go; Goss was stuck firmly to his wheel, but - despite the Australian’s best efforts - Greipel cruised across the line, raising his right arm as he did so.

Result People’s Choice Classic
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol
2. Matt Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
3. Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto-Belisol
4. Boy van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
5. Chris Sutton (Aus) Team Sky
6. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida
7. Steele Von Hoff (Aus) Garmin-Sharp
8. José Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team
9. Anthony Giacoppo (Aus) UniSA
10. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) AG2R La Mondiale

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