Andre Greipel makes perfect start at Tour Down Under winning stage one
Andre Greipel delivered an emphatic victory on stage one at the Tour Down Under to take an early race lead.
Last Updated: 22/01/13 3:31pm
The German (Lotto-Belisol) hung on over the late climbs before opening up in Lobethal to level the record for stage wins in the Australian stage race.
Team Sky went toe-to-toe with Lotto-Belisol 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.
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.
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.
Edvald Boasson Hagen was the first Team Sky rider home in eighth after getting boxed in slightly in the final few metres.
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.
Pineau was caught at the final intermediate sprint in Charleston, world champion Gilbert jumping out of the peloton to pip him on the line for three potentially important seconds.
From then on all eyes were on the finish, with a tough run-in taking 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.