Tour Down Under 6: Andrei Greipel secures overall

Chris Sutton wins final stage for Sky

Germany's Andre Greipel clinched an emphatic second Tour Down Under victory on Sunday as Britain's Team Sky rounded off their debut race in impressive style.

The 2008 champion crossed fifth to preserve his 11-second overall lead, marking a spectacular return to Australia after he crashed out of last year's race and missed four months following shoulder surgery.

American cycling legend Lance Armstrong, who is targeting an eighth Tour de France win at the age of 38, which would make him the oldest champion, finished 16 seconds off the winner to place 25th overall.

"I'm really happy, and for the team as well," Greipel said. "The team did a really good job the last week. I'm just really happy."

Team Sky took over in the final section of Sunday's stage around central Adelaide, with Chris Sutton and Greg Henderson claiming the rich new outfit's second one-two finish of the week.

Henderson placed third overall, putting Sky on the podium in their maiden outing as they bid to produce Britain's first ever Tour de France winner. Spain's Luis Leon Sanchez took second overall.

Andrei greipel (htc-columbia) won the overall title again:
Andrei greipel (htc-columbia) won the overall title again:

Overall winner Andrei Greipel

Greipel, 27, bombed out of last year's race when, as defending champion, he ploughed into a parked police motorbike and was sidelined for the early part of the season.

He has dominated this week, claiming the first two stages with trademark sprints and then eclipsing an Armstrong attack with another powerful finish on day four.

On Sunday, Australia's Wesley Sulzberger threatened a sensational upset when he opened up a 43-second lead in a three-man break with four laps of the street circuit to go.

But the runaways were caught 2.5 kilometres (1.5 miles) from the finish and the blue-and-black-clad Sky riders took over in the last section, adding to their first and second places in last Sunday's pre-Tour street race.

"We took control with around two kilometres to go and we just had the perfect lead-out," Sutton said.

"I just went as long as I could and I just held on, I kicked and went for it and we went one-two which was incredible. We're a new team, everyone's working well together. It's all about teamwork."

Australia's reigning road race world champion Cadel Evans finished 18th to place sixth overall, after his heroic third place in sapping heat on day three and Saturday's daring breakaway over the notorious Willunga Hill.

Evans, who is focusing this year on "unfinished business" at the Giro D'Italia and Tour de France, where he has twice placed second, said he was surprised by his strong showing in the season's opening race.

"I didn't come here with any expectations because putting pressure on yourself to perform when you haven't done the preparation isn't healthy," he said. "Hopefully it's a sign of things to come."

The six-stage Tour Down Under, raced over 800 kilometres of road around Adelaide, has grown into one of Australia's biggest sporting events and this year attracted a record 762,000 fans.

© AFP 2010

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