People’s Choice Classic: Kittel pips Greipel and Ewan with perfectly timed surge
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Sunday, January 19, 2014

People’s Choice Classic: Kittel pips Greipel and Ewan with perfectly timed surge

by Shane Stokes at 8:02 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
New Giant Shimano team clocks up first victory of the season

Marcel KittelThe dominant sprinter from last year’s Tour de France showed that he means to continue in the same fashion this season, with Marcel Kittel (Giant Shimano) speeding home to his first win of the year in the People’s Choice Classic in Adelaide today.

Kittel put in an impressive finishing surge to overhaul fellow German Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) just before the line. The talented Australian amateur Caleb Ewan – who will turn pro later this year with the Orica GreenEdge team – notched up third place for his UniSA squad.

“I'm really impressed by the boys today they did a great job, a big thank you goes to the team,” a pleased Kittel said. “It's a great way to start the new season for both the team and our new sponsor Giant.

“The guys put me in a perfect position to finish off the job. It's a relief to get the first win under my belt and we can build on our confidence from here. The bike felt great today.”

The criterium race is run as a precursor to the Santos Tour Down Under, which starts on Tuesday, and features the same teams and riders. The WorldTour status of the stage race means that the top eighteen squads in the world were present in today’s event, as well as some of the sport’s top names.

As Kittel pointed out, it was the fist race for his new-look squad, which competed last year under the Argos Shimano title but changed when the former ended its sponsorship. An unnamed American charity was initially expected to take over, but reneged on that deal; the team’s future was threatened, but then Giant stepped in as the title sponsor.

Kittel was consequently extra-motivated to win today, wanting to reward the bike manufacturer for its commitment.

“The first sprint of the season is always complicated so it's always a bit of a waiting game,” he said. “You need a bit of luck to be in the perfect position and I was in the perfect spot to start my sprint.

“In a race of 50 kilometres everyone is fresh at the end so I had to time my sprint just perfectly. It’s always a relief to get the first win, now we can take it a little easy,” he said, but also making clear that he hopes to notch up at least one stage win in the Santos Tour Down Under.

An estimated 95 thousand fans were said to have lined out alongside the route of the criterium, watching the action unfold.

In the earlier women’s race comprising one of the three stages of the Santos Women's Cup, Orica-AIS rider Loes Gunnewijk sprinted in first ahead of her team mates Melissa Hoskins and Annette Edmondson.

The first move went clear early in the men’s event, with Robert Gesink (Belkin), Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Travis Meyer (Drapac) and Jack Haig (UniSA) gaining time before being hauled back.

Haas was returning to competition after a long break due to injury and was eager to impress, as he had also done last year. He jumped again and, after being joined by Axel Domont (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Luca Wackermann (Lampre-Merida), took the first prime. They were joined soon afterwards by FDJ’s Anthony Roux.

Further back a crash brought down several riders in the bunch, including the former Italian champion Giovanni Visconti. The Movistar rider suffered a fracture to his leg and will now have an enforced break from racing.

The break continued to build a half minute’s lead, but were eventually brought back. Haas made the most of his time out front, though, taking the second and third primes and adding to his total.

The race came back together with just over five laps to go, with Sky doing a lot of the work. Its new signing Philip Deignan picked up the final prime, then Lotto Belisol took over to try to earn Greipel the win. However the team appeared to go fractionally early, with the riders fading and the German kicking a little sooner than he hoped.

Kittel gauged things perfectly and blasted past him to grab the victory, with Evan netting a fine third.

Giant Shimano coach Addy Engels said that the team was particularly motivated this morning. “What better way to start the new season? We have been in Australia for a little while now to get used to the time and temperature difference and the guys have been picking up their training. Today I really felt a change in everyone, they knew what they had to do and were ready to race,” he said.

People’s Choice Classic, Adelaide:

1, Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) 1 hours 4 mins 34 secs
2, Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol)
3, Caleb Ewan (UniSA)
4, Christopher Sutton (Team Sky)
5, Jose Joaquin Rojas (FDJ)
6, Julian Alaphilippe (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
7, Mark Renshaw (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
8, Jonathan Cantwell (Drapac)
9, Elia Viviani (Cannondale)
10, Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol)
11, Steele von Hoff (Garmin-Sharp)
12, Neil Van Der Ploeg (UniSA) at 4 seconds
13, Sébastien Turgot (Ag2r La Mondiale)
14, Guillaume Boivin (Cannondale)
15, Marco Haller (Katusha)
16, Geoffrey Soupe (FDJ)
17, Anthony Giacoppo (UniSA)
18, Michael Kolar (Tinkoff Saxo)
19, Boy Van Poppel (Trek Factory) at 9 seconds
20, Nicki Sorensen (Tinkoff Saxo)
21, Jack Haig (UniSA)
22, Bjorn Hurau (Europcar)
23, Bram Tankink (Belkin)
24, Guillaume Bonnafond (Ag2r La Mondiale)
25, Cameron Wurf (Cannondale)
26, Jacopo Guarnieri (Astana)
27, Rafael Valls (Lampre-Merida)
28, Aleksandr Porsev (Katusha)
29, Yukiya Arashiro (Astana)
30, José Juan Lobato (Movistar)


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