Mon, Jan 25, 2010 - Page 19 News List

Andre Greipel wins Tour Down Under

TRAINING DAY Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong used the Tour Down Under to get ready for his eighth attempt to take cycling’s top prize

AP , ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA

Australian Christopher Sutton, riding for Team Sky, receives a kiss on both cheeks on the podium after winning stage six, the final stage of the Tour Down Under cycling race in Adelaide, Australia, yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Germany’s Andre Greipel finished fifth in the final stage of the Tour Down Under yesterday to win the six-stage ProTour event for the second time in three years.

Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, riding for his new Team Radioshack, raced near the middle of the peleton for most of the stage, which looped parklands near the city’s business hub.

He finished near the middle of the 129-rider field as more than 200,000 spectators watched the tour’s conclusion.

Chris Sutton of Australia won the 91km sixth stage around a 4.5km street circuit in downtown Adelaide to give the UK’s newly formed Team Sky its first stage win in a ProTour event.

Sutton’s teammate Greg Henderson of New Zealand was second and Graeme Brown of Australia third, while Greipel finished close up for his US-based Team Columbia.

“I can’t believe it. It’s all about teamwork,” Sutton said. “I just kicked and went for it. I just went as long as I could and if Greg [Henderson] went around me, he went around me, but we just went 1-2, it was incredible.”

Greipel won the tour for the first time in 2008, but crashed out on the third stage last year after colliding with a police motorbike. He joins Australian Stuart O’Grady, who won the race in 1999 and 2001, as two-time winners.

Greipel started the stage with an 11-second lead on general classification over Luis Leon Sanchez. Luke Roberts of Australia was a further six seconds back in third and Armstrong was 24th overall after five stages, 47 seconds behind Greipel.

Greipel maintained his 11-­second margin over Sanchez, while Henderson moved up to third place on general classification, 15 seconds behind the tour winner. Armstrong finished 25th overall, one minute, three seconds down on the tour leader.

World champion and two-time Tour de France runner-up Cadel Evans of Australia was sixth overall, 21 seconds behind Greipel, and US road racing champion George Hincapie was 12th.

Alejandro Valverde of Spain finished 19th overall while his compatriot, 2006 Tour de France-winner Oscar Pereiro, was 72nd and more than 10 minutes behind the race winner.

Australians Wesley Sulzberger and Trent Lowe and Fabio Sabatini of Italy launched a three-man break, which led the race from the 13th lap and by up to 43 seconds.

The group were steadily hauled back by the peleton — their lead was down to 14 seconds at the start of the final lap — and they were eventually claimed with more 2km remaining.

The capture of the breakaway allowed the strongest teams — Team Sky and Columbia — to work to the front of the peleton and to set up the finish for their sprinters.

Sutton went with teammate and proved strongest in the final sprint while Greipel finished powerfully for fifth.

Greipel won the first, second and fourth stages of the race in a outstanding team performance. He has now won eight stages in three appearances in the event, the only ProTour race in the southern hemisphere.

The race is the first of this year’s ProTour season and the first step for Armstrong toward July’s Tour de France, which he hopes to win for the eighth time. He has repeatedly said he feels stronger and lighter this year than at the start of last year when he used the Tour Down Under to end a three-and-a-half year retirement.

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