Germany's Andre Greipel upstaged the more favoured Australian sprint contingent to win the second stage of the Tour Down Under in South Australia on Wednesday.
Greipel, from Team High Road, surged home to claim victory in the 148-kilometre stage, stretching from the small town of Stirling to the appropriately named Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills.
In a region dotted with place names from England and Scotland, Hahndorf, founded by German settlers in the early 19th century, stands out.
"I feel like I'm in Germany," Greipel said. "Before the race started I thought it would be nice to win here because it's a German city."
As he did in the tour warm-up race on Sunday, Greipel showed immense power over the last 200 metres to hold off Australian duo Graeme Brown (Rabobank) and Allan Davis. Brown's second placing was good enough to see him take the ochre leader's jersey on a countback from overnight leader Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole) and Greipel, after all three finished on the same time.
Wednesday's stage followed a similar pattern to Tuesday's opener, with three riders breaking away early and trying desperately, but unsuccessfully, to hang on until the finish.
France's Yoann Offredo launched a solo attack after five kilometres and sped away from the peloton, leading on his own for the next 15km. Compatriots Stéphane Poulhies and Nicolas Crosbie set out after him, eventually catching him at the 20km mark.
The three stayed together for the next 100 km, but were never able to get more than six minutes clear and once the peloton decided to make its move, the leaders were slowly but surely gathered in, ensuring a bunch sprint for the second day in succession.
While one of the well-credentialed Australians was favoured to win the sprint, Greipel took his chances and finished first after launching his attack 100 metres out.
"Normally I want to start sprinting a little earlier but (Mark) Renshaw was on the right-hand side and I couldn't pass him, but at the last 100 metres he went to the left and I could pass him," he said.
The 25-year-old from Cologne said that before this year he was fast enough to win races but would find himself in the wrong position when the sprint started. "Now I trust myself and the team trusts me and I think that's why I won this race," he said.
Greipel said his win would help Team High Road ease the disappointment of losing long-term sponsor T-Mobile late last year due to the sport's ongoing doping controversies.
"It's the best answer - to win races. The team is better than last year and we are all friends. I think that's why everyone supports each other."
Brown, who took the leader's jersey by the barest of margins, said he had mixed emotions after finishing second. "I was coming quickly at the end but it was just a bit late - I'm a little disappointed," he said.
But Brown said his team would work hard to keep the leader's jersey on the third stage. "I'm sure you'll see a lot of orange on the front tomorrow taking control of the race, like a team should when it's got the leader's jersey."
The third stage is a 139km run from Unley in Adelaide down the coastline to Victor Harbor.
The race finishes on Sunday with an 88km street circuit through Adelaide.
© AFP 2008
|1 Andre Greipel (Ger|Team High Road)||3:46:55||(39.13km/h)|
|2 Graeme Brown (Aus|Rabobank)|
|3 Allan Davis (Aus|Unisa - Australia)|
|4 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa|Caisse D'Epargne)|
|5 Aaron Kemps (Aus|Astana)|
|Sprint 1 Adelaide Road, Echunga at Institute - 15:4 km|
|1 Yoann Offredo (Fra|Francaise Des Jeux)||6||pts|
|2 Nicolas Crosbie (Fra|Bouygues Telecom)||4|
|3 Stephane Poulhies (Fra|Ag2R-La Mondiale)||1|
|Sprint 2 Onkaparinga Valley Road, near James Street, Balhannah - 64:1 km|
|1 Nicolas Crosbie (Fra|Bouygues Telecom)||6||pts|
|2 Yoann Offredo (Fra|Francaise Des Jeux)||4|
|3 Stephane Poulhies (Fra|Ag2R-La Mondiale)||2|
|Finish Arch - Main Street, Hahndorf at Visitor Information Centre - 148:0 km|
|1 Andre Greipel (Ger|Team High Road)||8||pts|
|2 Graeme Brown (Aus|Rabobank)||6|
|3 Allan Davis (Aus|Unisa - Australia)||4|
|Church Hill Rd, Echunga - 44:9 km|
|1 Stephane Poulhies (Fra|Ag2R-La Mondiale)||16||pts|
|2 Yoann Offredo (Fra|Francaise Des Jeux)||12|
|3 Nicolas Crosbie (Fra|Bouygues Telecom)||8|
|4 Jean-Eudes Demaret (Fra|Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone)||6|
|5 Philippe Gilbert (Bel|Francaise Des Jeux)||4|
|2 Bouygues Telecom|
|3 Saunier Duval-Scott|
|4 Francaise Des Jeux|
|5 Caisse D'epargne|
|General Classification after Stage 2|
|1 Graeme Brown (Aus|Rabobank)||7:00:18|
|2 Mark Renshaw (Aus|Credit Agricole)|
|3 Andre Greipel (Ger|Team High Road)|
|4 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa|Caisse D'Epargne)||0:00:04|
|5 Mickael Buffaz (Fra|Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone)|
|1 Mickael Buffaz (Fra|Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone)||12||pts|
|2 Yoann Offredo (Fra|Francaise Des Jeux)||10|
|3 Nicolas Crosbie (Fra|Bouygues Telecom)||10|
|4 Graeme Brown (Aus|Rabobank)||10|
|5 Mark Renshaw (Aus|Credit Agricole)||8|
|1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel|Francaise Des Jeux)||20||pts|
|2 Stephane Poulhies (Fra|Ag2R-La Mondiale)||16|
|3 Yoann Offredo (Fra|Francaise Des Jeux)||12|
|4 Jon Bru Pascal (Spa|Euskaltel - Euskadi)||12|
|5 Nicolas Crosbie (Fra|Bouygues Telecom)||8|
|Under 25 Classification|
|1 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa|Caisse D'Epargne)||7:00:22|
|2 Yoann Offredo (Fra|Francaise Des Jeux)||0:00:01|
|3 Richie Porte (Aus|Unisa - Australia)||0:00:04|
|4 Pieter Jacobs (Bel|Silence-Lotto)||0:00:06|
|5 Davide Vigano (Ita|Quick Step)|
|2 Ag2R-La Mondiale|
|3 Bouygues Telecom|
|5 Saunier Duval-Scott|
|19 Team Milram|