Edvald eighth on stage one
Edvald Boasson Hagen claimed an eighth place finish on stage one at the Tour Down Under.
Last Updated: 24/01/13 5:11am
Edvald Boasson Hagen claimed an eighth place finish on stage one at the Tour Down Under as the WorldTour season got under way.
The Norwegian was well-positioned heading into the final kilometres after a strong performance from his Team Sky team-mates on a difficult, undulating run-in.
Squeezed towards the barriers in the final metres, Boasson Hagen had to settle for eighth but finished safely in the lead group alongside fellow overall contender Geraint Thomas.
Up ahead Andre Greipel delivered an emphatic victory to take an early race lead, the German (Lotto-Belisol) hanging on over the late climbs to level the record for stage wins in the Australian event.
Team Sky went toe-to-toe with Greipel's squad in the closing stages but on the line it was Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Mark Renshaw (Blanco Cycling) who rounded out the podium places.
Backing up his win on Sunday at the People's Choice Classic, Greipel moved in the ochre leader's jersey with a four-second lead heading into a likely more selective stage two on Wednesday.
After the stage finish Luke Rowe reflected on the run-in and the form Team Sky are in.
Speaking to Sky Sports he said: “We were trying to keep Eddy and G - the two guys who are trying to go well here - safe and try to set Eddy up for the finish. It didn’t go quite to plan at the end but looking at the bigger picture they are still in the lead group so it’s looking good for the next few days.
“The last 5km were really tough, up and down all the way, so to be able to ride on the front as a team shows we’ve got the legs and the form and I’m sure if we keep riding like that then the results are going to come.
“I’m really optimistic for the rest of the week. We’ve trained well and put in the hard work. We’ve had a couple of hard camps in Mallorca so it’s nice to go into a race knowing that you couldn’t have done much more and I think in the next few days there’s certainly a lot more to come.”
After the stage Thomas admitted the run-in had been a challenge for the peloton. “It was a bit tougher than expected with a few more drags in it than everyone thought," he said to Sky Sports News.
"It was still the same outcome in the end with it being a bunch sprint. I think the peloton was just a bit more tired.
“It was a good first day and good to get the legs going again. It does feel a bit different to training when you’ve got that number on your back. I think we did a good job. We committed and took the lead. We got swamped a bit at the end so we there’s plenty to work on."
A big emphasis was placed on bonus seconds with the race's overall contenders showing their hand and getting in the mix with three intermediate digs during the day - Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) among the big names to claim time bonuses.
Thomas found himself in the mix at the first intermediate point but was narrowly edged out of a final bonus second in a frantic sprint.
A combination of Lotto-Belisol, Argos-Shimano and Orica-GreenEDGE helped control the day on behalf of their respective sprinters in a day which always looked likely to end in a bunch kick.
The WorldTour campaign kicked off in Prospect to the east of Adelaide, 135 kilometres on the agenda on a stage which appeared to have all the hallmarks of a sprint finish.
After a brief three-man dig it was clear Jordan Kerby (Uni-SA) was highly motivated to make the break, the young Australian finally hitting out on his own to build up a gap of around seven minutes.
The peloton began to keep tabs on things on the run up to the day's categorised climb at Checker Hill, Kerby taking the points and the jersey while the sprinters' teams chased behind.
As the riders hit the undulating finishing circuit in Lobethal Jerome Pineau (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) struck out with 35km remaining, a tired Kerby eventually swept up as the pace increased.
From then on all eyes were on the finish, Team Sky hitting the from en masse while behind a tough run-in took its toll on a few big name sprinters. Yet when it came down to it there was no stopping Greipel who made things look supremely easy.
Sports Director Kurt-Asle Arvesen expects the dynamic of the race to alter on Wednesday, adding: "Tomorrow is a different scenario with the Corkscrew climb. We need to make sure that we have Edvald and G ready to go on that climb and hopefully they will end up in the front group. I think it could be a small group at the finish."