Clear blue skies, brilliant sunshine, and victory for Andre Greipel. It must be the Tour Down Under.
The German powerhouse wasted little time in stamping his authority on a race he has won twice, finishing off the work of a highly disciplined Lotto-Belisol sprint train in convincing style.
Despite the efficiency of Greipel’s victory, however, the opening stage was far from dull, with a courageous attack from a young, home rider in the colours of UniSA, Jordan Kerby, and serious assaults on the intermediate sprints from a host of overall contenders, including defending champion, Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE), Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM), and Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing).
With previous editions of the race decided by a handful of seconds, and Gerrans claiming victory last year on countback, it’s clear that none of the riders hoping to end the race in the ochre jersey will be taking chances.
We welcome back to RCUK, Stefano Sirotti, who’ll be our man with the lens at each of this season’s WorldTour races. Here’s his first gallery of the season.
Philippe Gilbert gave every appearance of taking his tenure in the rainbow stripes seriously, despite the smile. He contested the intermediate sprints and finished the day fifth overall
Jordan Kerby had little company from his contemporaries during his 100km breakaway but found plenty of support at the roadside
A mere 12,000 miles from a snow-hit Blighty, the riders pedaled beneath clear blue skies
Tired, but happy: after 12 stages and two overall victories, the Tour Down Under is the happiest of hunting grounds for the popular Greipel
The ochre jersey has become a permanent fixture in the German’s January wardrobe