Marcel Kittel sprints to victory in the Tour Down Under People’s Choice Classic

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Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) has begun his Santos Tour Down Under campaign in convincing fashion, winning the People’s Choice Classic in Adelaide’s for the second year in a row.

Kittel went into the curtain-raiser criterium in Adelaide’s East End as the hot favourite and lived up to expectations, crossing the line first ahead of Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) and Wouter Wippert (Drapac) at the end of the 51km race.

The opening stages of the 30-lap race saw several riders attempt to establish a breakaway but no move of any substance was able to stick. At the end of lap 5 newly crowned Australian national U23 time trial and road race champion Miles Scotson (UniSA-Australia) broke clear of the bunch and took the first intermediate sprint.

After several more unsuccessful attempts to get a group clear off the front it wasn’t until lap 8 of the 1.7km circuit that the race’s only real breakaway was established. Mathew Hayman (Orica-GreenEdge), Peter Kennaugh (Sky) and Dario Cataldo (Astana) opened up a small lead and on the following lap they were joined by Calvin Watson (Trek).

Over the next 10 laps the group of four eked out a small lead which peaked at just 32 seconds after 17 of the race’s 30 laps. Along the way Mat Hayman took the second and third intermediate sprints, after 10 and 15 laps of racing respectively.

Back in the main field Giant-Alpecin was lined out on the front of the peloton, chasing back the break for Marcel Kittel. As Kittel noted after the race, his team had little support in the chase.

“We heard from other teams that they would join us to bring the breakaway back but that did not really work out,” Kittel said. “But I see that as a compliment for the success we’ve had in recent years with the sprints.”

Over the following laps the four leaders’ advantage was slowly whittled away. Peter Kennaugh took the fourth sprint prime after 20 laps and a lap later he attacked solo from the lead group of four.

But the Manxman’s escape was short lived. He was caught just as the 22nd lap began, as too were the remaining three riders in the breakaway.

In the following few laps a couple of Astana riders — Lieuwe Westra and Davide Malacarne — both tried their hand at a solo move but neither lasted more than half a lap. Geraint Thomas (Sky) tried his luck as well, but with five laps to go it was clear — if it wasn’t already — that the race was going to end in a bunch sprint.

Tinkoff-Saxo, IAM Cycling and Lampre-Merida were all active on the front of the bunch as the race drew to a close. In the desperate battle for good positioning several riders bumped shoulders, but all were able to stay upright.

No team was able to string a substantial lead-out train together as the sprint approached, and even Marcel Kittel had just one teammate coming into the final dash for the line. But Kittel didn’t need more than one teammate, pulling out of the slipstream with roughly 250m to go and powering to the line, a bike length ahead of the rest of the field.

For Kittel the victory came as somewhat of a relief.

“I’m always nervous before the first race of the year and I also always want to win the first race of the year”, Kittel said. “You’re never sure if you can straight away start with a win but every sprinter is looking for exactly that.

“I’m very happy that it worked out immediately for us this year.”

Marcel Kittel will go into the flatter finishes of this year’s Santos Tour Down Under — stages 1, 4 and 6 — as the sprinter to beat. The race proper begins on Tuesday morning with a 132.6km stage from Tanunda to Campbelltown.

Race results

Rank Name Team Time
1 Marcel KITTEL TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN 1:02:41
2 Juan Jose LOBATO DEL VALLE MOVISTAR TEAM 0
3 Wouter WIPPERT DRAPAC PROFESSIONAL CYCLING 0
4 Christopher SUTTON TEAM SKY 0
5 Heinrich HAUSSLER IAM CYCLING 0
6 Gianni MEERSMAN ETIXX – QUICK STEP 0
7 Rudiger SELIG TEAM KATUSHA 0
8 Samuel DUMOULIN AG2R LA MONDIALE 0
9 Mark RENSHAW ETIXX – QUICK STEP 0
10 Greg HENDERSON LOTTO SOUDAL 0
11 Niccolo BONIFAZIO LAMPRE – MERIDA 0
12 Giacomo NIZZOLO TREK FACTORY RACING 0
13 Boris VALLEE LOTTO SOUDAL 0
14 Steele VON HOFF UNISA AUSTRALIA 0
15 Pavel BRUTT TINKOFF – SAXO 0
16 Barry MARKUS TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 0
17 Lasse Norman HANSEN TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN 0
18 Marco COLEDAN TREK FACTORY RACING 0
19 Lorenzo MANZIN FDJ 0
20 Aleksei TCATEVICH TEAM KATUSHA 0
21 Ruslan TLEUBAYEV ASTANA PRO TEAM 0
22 Alex HOWES TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN 0
23 Jesper HANSEN TINKOFF – SAXO 0
24 Timo ROOSEN TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 0
25 Jack BAUER TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN 0
26 Silvan DILLIER BMC RACING TEAM 0
27 Daryl IMPEY ORICA GreenEDGE 0
28 Koen DE KORT TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN 0
29 Enrique SANZ MOVISTAR TEAM 0
30 Laurens DE VREESE ASTANA PRO TEAM 0
31 Maarten TJALLINGII TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 0
32 Tiago MACHADO TEAM KATUSHA 0
33 Luis Leon SANCHEZ GIL ASTANA PRO TEAM 0
34 Gorka IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI MOVISTAR TEAM 0
35 Pablo LASTRAS GARCIA MOVISTAR TEAM 0
36 Eros CAPECCHI MOVISTAR TEAM 0
37 Davide MALACARNE ASTANA PRO TEAM 0
38 Jérémy ROY FDJ 0
39 Thomas DE GENDT LOTTO SOUDAL 0
40 Christophe RIBLON AG2R LA MONDIALE 0
41 Sam BEWLEY ORICA GreenEDGE 0
42 Lars BOOM ASTANA PRO TEAM 0
43 Maxime BOUET ETIXX – QUICK STEP 0
44 Martin VELITS ETIXX – QUICK STEP 0
45 Vicente REYNES MIMO IAM CYCLING 0
46 Adam HANSEN LOTTO SOUDAL 0
47 Julien BERARD AG2R LA MONDIALE 0
48 Yves LAMPAERT ETIXX – QUICK STEP 0
49 Miles SCOTSON UNISA AUSTRALIA 0
50 Cédric PINEAU FDJ 0
51 Stef CLEMENT IAM CYCLING 0
52 Michael SCHÄR BMC RACING TEAM 0
53 Hayden ROULSTON TREK FACTORY RACING 0
54 Mathew HAYMAN ORICA GreenEDGE 0
55 Martin ELMIGER IAM CYCLING 0
56 Simon CLARKE ORICA GreenEDGE 0
57 Rick FLENS TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 0
58 Lieuwe WESTRA ASTANA PRO TEAM 0
59 Martijn KEIZER TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 0
60 Jussi VEIKKANEN FDJ 0
61 Bertjan LINDEMAN TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 0
62 Danilo WYSS BMC RACING TEAM 0
63 Lars Ytting BAK LOTTO SOUDAL 0
64 David DE LA CRUZ MELGAREJO ETIXX – QUICK STEP 0
65 Ruben FERNANDEZ MOVISTAR TEAM 0
66 Peter STETINA BMC RACING TEAM 0
67 Rohan DENNIS BMC RACING TEAM 0
68 Sergey LAGUTIN TEAM KATUSHA 0
69 Martin KOHLER DRAPAC PROFESSIONAL CYCLING 0
70 Christopher JUUL JENSEN TINKOFF – SAXO 0
71 Oliver ZAUGG TINKOFF – SAXO 0
72 Jordan KERBY DRAPAC PROFESSIONAL CYCLING 0
73 Arnold JEANNESSON FDJ 0
74 Jarlison PANTANO GOMEZ IAM CYCLING 0
75 Kristijan DURASEK LAMPRE – MERIDA 0
76 Michael ROGERS TINKOFF – SAXO 0
77 Salvatore PUCCIO TEAM SKY 0
78 Campbell FLAKEMORE BMC RACING TEAM 0
79 Neil VAN DER PLOEG UNISA AUSTRALIA 0
80 Roger KLUGE IAM CYCLING 0
81 Alexis GOUGEARD AG2R LA MONDIALE 0
82 Domenico POZZOVIVO AG2R LA MONDIALE 0
83 Cadel EVANS BMC RACING TEAM 0
84 Pieter SERRY ETIXX – QUICK STEP 0
85 Vladimir ISAICHEV TEAM KATUSHA 0
86 Giampaolo CARUSO TEAM KATUSHA 0
87 Michael HEPBURN ORICA GreenEDGE 0
88 Manuele BOARO TINKOFF – SAXO 0
89 Nathan HAAS TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN 0
90 Eugenio ALAFACI TREK FACTORY RACING 0
91 Kenny DE HAES LOTTO SOUDAL 22
92 Maxim BELKOV TEAM KATUSHA 24
93 William CLARKE DRAPAC PROFESSIONAL CYCLING 24
94 Ryder HESJEDAL TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN 24
95 Alexander EDMONDSON UNISA AUSTRALIA 24
96 Cameron MEYER ORICA GreenEDGE 24
97 Luke DURBRIDGE ORICA GreenEDGE 24
98 Robert POWER UNISA AUSTRALIA 24
99 Jack HAIG UNISA AUSTRALIA 24
100 Ian STANNARD TEAM SKY 24
101 George BENNETT TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 24
102 Dario CATALDO ASTANA PRO TEAM 24
103 Tsgabu Gebremaryam GRMAY LAMPRE – MERIDA 24
104 Blel KADRI AG2R LA MONDIALE 24
105 Richie PORTE TEAM SKY 24
106 Timothy ROE DRAPAC PROFESSIONAL CYCLING 24
107 Daniel MCCONNELL TREK FACTORY RACING 24
108 Laurent DIDIER TREK FACTORY RACING 24
109 Davide VILLELLA TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN 24
110 Michal KOLÁR TINKOFF – SAXO 24
111 Chad HAGA TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN 24
112 Gert DOCKX LOTTO SOUDAL 24
113 Moreno MOSER TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN 24
114 Calvin WATSON TREK FACTORY RACING 24
115 Manuele MORI LAMPRE – MERIDA 24
116 Sébastien CHAVANEL FDJ 34
117 Peter KENNAUGH TEAM SKY 41
118 José HERRADA LOPEZ MOVISTAR TEAM 41
119 Davide CIMOLAI LAMPRE – MERIDA 43
120 Olivier LE GAC FDJ +1:32
121 Travis MEYER DRAPAC PROFESSIONAL CYCLING +1:37
122 Geraint THOMAS TEAM SKY +1:37
123 Luke ROWE TEAM SKY +1:45
124 Roberto FERRARI LAMPRE – MERIDA +1:53
125 Matteo BONO LAMPRE – MERIDA +1:53
126 Tom DUMOULIN TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN +1:58
127 Albert TIMMER TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN +1:58
128 Graeme BROWN DRAPAC PROFESSIONAL CYCLING +2:01
129 David TANNER IAM CYCLING +2:01
130 Jack BOBRIDGE UNISA AUSTRALIA +4:12
DNF Simon GESCHKE TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN
DNF Lawson CRADDOCK TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN
DNS Axel DOMONT AG2R LA MONDIALE

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