Dutch delight at maiden win as Greipel hooks his hundred
Dutch cyclist Tom-Jelte 'TJ' Slagter has celebrated his first WorldTour victory while Andre Greipel notched up his 100th career win on the final stage of the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under in Adelaide.
23 year old Slagter from the Blanco team snatched the race lead on yesterday's stage finish atop Old Willunga Hill and went into today's 90 kilometre final stage on the Adelaide City Council Street Circuit, with a 13 second buffer. At the end of today's 20 laps of the 4.5km circuit he added a further four seconds to his advantage to finish 17 seconds in front.
It was a brilliant result for the youngster who also won the bikeexchange.com.au third stage on Thursday and claimed the Cycle Instead Best Young Rider classification.
"I’m not looking at my age, we’re all in the same peloton where more and more young riders are performing," said Slagter. "Today I’m not thinking that I’m young but that I have won the Santos Tour Down Under and that’s a wonderful feeling!
"I’m really proud of what the Blanco team has done all week," said Slagter. "It’s really nice here. For sure I’ll come back to Adelaide. I want to have the same start to the season in the future."
The stage was lit up early by the SKY team as Welshman Geraint Thomas, who lost the race lead yesterday, went on the attack in a bid to make amends.
He won the three second bonus on the first of the two Jayco intermediate sprints at the end of lap eight (36km) and added a further one second with his third place on the second intermediate sprint (54km). His efforts moved him up to third overall and, with the points he won for sixth place at the finish, he moved one point clear on top of the Jayco Sprint Classification.
"Yesterday was very disappointing, and we looked at the results and we realised there was still a chance of getting third," said Thomas. "We didn't want to just give up and throw it away. There was still one more day today and we were up for it, balls to the wall.
"They (the team) did that for me," he said. "It was unbelievable how they rode and the lead-outs. I am not the best sprinter in the world, punch-wise, especially when I am tired and don't have much kick. I just followed Edvald (Boasson Hagen) and nabbed the points on the line. It was a perfect day for us."
Thomas was also named the Europcar Most Competitive Rider of the Stage.
Spaniard Javier Moreno Bazan (Movistar) finished second overall but he takes home the Skoda King of the Mountain trophy as the best climber of the six stage race.
"It’s been a highly competitive race today. We realised from the beginning that Sky was going to go hard for the time bonuses," said Moreno. "They were committed to bring Geraint Thomas to the final podium and that has made a very fast race all the way.
" For me, it’s a very positive week of racing. I’m very happy with being the King of the Mountain and coming second overall," said Moreno. "I came here for the first time last year and was eighth.
"This year I had more freedom and the outcome is great. I love this race! If everything’s fine, I’ll be back next year."
The Hindmarsh Winning Team was awarded to RadioShack-Leopard who pipped Movistar by 1:09 at the end of 758 kilometres of racing.
Once the race for overall podium honours was decided the focus turned to who would win the stage and the powerhouse Greipel was certainly one of the favourites. He lived up to the billing ending the Tour as he began with a powerhouse turn of speed giving him his 100th career win since his first as an under 23 rider in 2003.
Australian hopes were high when Mark Renshaw(Blanco) hit the front early on the run into the line but Greipel had his measure.
"Oh well he surprised me a little bit, I was also planning to kick but yeah he started early and so I had a bit more slip stream," said Greipel. "He did a really good sprint but I had some power left."
Although disappointed not to win the stage Renshaw agreed it was a good week for his Blanco team.
"I wanted to try to surprise them and I went early," said Renshaw. "I jumped from 12 (cog) to the 11. I had to try something different because (Greipel's) team can deliver him too well to the line.
"It's been a sensational Tour Down Under for us, a stage-win, the GC, two seconds, a third, four top-tens," said Renshaw.
Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen (SKY) crossed the line in third place.
The Tanya Denver Memorial Award went to Stuart O'Grady (ORICA-GreenEDGE) who in 56th place was the best placed South Australian.