Tour Down Under 2014: stage one - five observations

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Tour Down Under 2014: stage one – five observations

Early thoughts as the UCI WorldTour season gets underway in Adelaide

The Tour Down Under is 31-year-old German champion Andre Greipel’s race. An overall winner in 2010 and 2008, ‘The Gorilla’ has won 14 stages in South Australia during his illustrious career. But, in two races down under this season, he has twice been out-sprinted – first by compatriot Marcel Kittel in the People’s Choice Classic and now by Simon Gerrans in Angaston. Unlike Kittel, Gerrans is not particularly renowned as an out-and-out sprinter , which races question marks over the German.

Dejection: Andre Greipel’s disappointment is obvious as Marcel Kittel celebrates People’s Choice Classic victory (pic: Sirotti)

An 11-time Grand Tour stage winner, Greipel’s three wins Down Under last year promised much for the coming season but a solitary win apiece at the Tour de France and Eneco Tour were the only further Grand Tour victories the German added to his name. The emergence of Marcel Kittel has seen Greipel relegated in the sprinting pecking order and a disappointing start to 2014 could suggest the pattern has been set for the whole season too. However, write off ‘The Gorilla’ at your peril – it is not for nothing he is regarded as one of the world’s finest sprinters. Furthermore, to even be in the sprint in Angaston says something of his power – Kittel, Roberto Ferrari and Mark Renshaw were not even in the leading group after Menglars Hill. He will be back.

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