Andre Greipel takes victory in season-opening People's Choice Classic in Australia
Andre Greipel confirmed his sprinting prowess once again with victory in the season-opening People's Choice Classic.
Last Updated: 20/01/13 10:59am
The German was unstoppable in the criterium showpiece, opening up his sprint to hold off Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) to win the race for a second year in succession.
The pace of the Lotto-Belisol lead-out train on the final lap was so decisive that it saw a seven-man group go clear heading into the finish.
Greipel's lead-out man and former winner of the race Greg Henderson had enough of a margin to hold on for third, while Chris Sutton was the leading Team Sky rider home in fifth.
Despite not being categorised as an official UCI race, the criterium, as in 2012, showed the ominous form of Greipel and his team as the season started with a bang.
30 laps of a 1.7-kilometre course around Rymill Park was the scene for the now-traditional evening criterium, with the Australian fans out in force to witness the action.
Unsurprisingly there were attacks from the gun, veteran Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Leopard) joined by Zak Dempster (Uni-SA) as the pair's move stuck immediately.
With the gap creeping out towards a minute it was Lotto-Belisol and Argos-Shimano who seized control, keeping a watching brief on the break on behalf of Greipel and Marcel Kittel respectively.
Team Sky notably kept their powder dry towards the rear of the field for much of the 51km race, while out front Dempster was busy soaking up the sprint primes.
Business began to pick up as more teams barged to the front, Team Sky among them with eight laps to go. Moments later the break found themselves caught after a solid effort.
Lotto-Belisol kept a firm grasp on the front for the final two laps and out of the all-important final corner it was Greipel who was delivered to the finish in style.
Following a winning sprint the 30-year-old said: "It's always good to start with a win. We tried to do the same as last year and I think we proved it again."
Viewers can watch highlights on Sky Sports 4 HD from 1200 to 1330, 1900-1930 (Sky Sports 2 HD), 2200-2230 (SS4).