The two stars of the 2013 Tour Down Under shone again on the final stage.
Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) claimed his 100th professional victory by winning the stage, while Tom Jelte Slagter (Blanco) wrapped up overall victory.
Britain’s Team Sky ended the race with third place on the stage, courtesy of Edvald Boasson Hagen, and third overall, in the form of Geraint Thomas.
Greipel proved too strong for Mark Renshaw, who briefly looked on course to complete a perfect final day for Blanco Pro Cycling in their opening race.
The German overhauled Renshaw in the closing metres, to extend his record number of victories in Australia’s only WorldTour race to fourteen. He has achieved overall victory on two occasions: in 2008 and 2010.
Greipel won this year’s opening stage, and set a new record for the number of stages won on stage four, overtaking Robbie McEwen’s tally of 13 stages. Greipel had also won the People’s Classic criterium, held two days before the Tour Down Under.
His final stage victory at the end of a 90km criterium in south Adelaide raised his total to fourteen wins, but surprisingly did not gain him overall victory in the sprint competition, where he missed out by a single point to Thomas.
Slagter had at least as much to celebrate. A promising first season in the WorldTour last year brought him sixth overall at the Tour of Oman and a series of top 10 finishes at the Tour of Beijing.
This year, he has stepped up a level, arriving in Australia with sufficient form to win in Stirling on stage three to relieve Thomas of the ochre jersey, and to go wheel-to-wheel with Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) the following day, where he was deprived of a second consecutive victory by the narrowest of margins.
A penchant for uphill sprints should make him a contender for an Ardennes Classic victory in April.
Team Sky can reflect on a promising start to the season. Thomas contested all the intermediate sprints and gained his just reward by topping the final overall sprints classification.
He said: “Traditionally no one really bothers on a final stage like this but we were up for it. The boys rode unbelievable and did [the hard work] for me. The lead-out for the sprint was amazing. I’m not the best sprinter in the world and especially when I’m tired I don’t have that much of a kick. I just followed Edvald and nabbed the points on the line.
“I tried to help Eddy at the end. He ended up on Greipel’s wheel and rode third so I think it’s topped off a really good week. We’ve had a good laugh and we got the win and a few placings, so for the first race of the year I think we can all be happy.”
Tour Down Under 2013 – stage six – result
1) Andre Greipel (GER) – Lotto-Belisol – 1.52.59
2) Mark Renshaw (AUS) – Blanco – ST
3) Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) – Team Sky – ST
4) Matt Goss (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE – ST
5) Tyler Farar (USA) – Garmin-Sharp – ST
6) Geraint Thomas (GBR) – Team Sky – ST
7) Klaas Kodewyck (BEL) – BMC Racing – ST
8) Bernard Makrus (NED)- Vanacsoleil-DCM – ST
9) Yanni Hutarovich (BLR) – Ag2r-La Mondiale – ST
10) Kenny Van Hummel (NED) – Vancansoleil-DCM – ST
Final General Classification
1) Tom Jelte Slagter (NED) – Blanco Pro Cycling – 18.28.32
2) Javier Moreno (ESP) – Movistar +17”
3) Geraint Thomas (GBR) – Team Sky +25”
4) Ion Izagirre (ESP) – Euskaltel-Euskadi +32”
5) Ben Hermans (BEL) – RadioShack-Leopard+ 24”
6) Wilco Kelderman (NED) – Blanco Pro Cycling – ST
7) Gorka Izagirre (ESP) – Euskaltel-Euskadi +36”
8) Daniele Pietropolli (ITA) – Lampre-Merida – ST
9) Tiago Machado (POR) – RadioShack-Leopard +38”
10) Jussi Veikkanen (FRA) – FDJ +41”