Andre Geipel spent the last few days before the 2010 Tour Down Under telling journalists he wasn’t the favorite and had no idea what his form was.
This fabrication despite the fact he’d won the 2008 edition and was well positioned to win in 2009 before he crashed out. The HTC-Columbia sprinter practically gave himself a new twist on his nickname: Andre the Not-So-Giant.
Consider the downplay over. The German rider from Rostock out-sprinted Gert Steegmans (Team RadioShack) and Jurgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) to take the opening day honors. Add the 141k stage from Clare to Tanunda to Greipel’s haul of six Tour Down Under stage wins. He starts his season off in high lycra style with the yellow jersey of race leader.
“We came here to win a stage and now we’ve won one, so our main goal has been reached. Everything else is now on top of that,” said Greipel. “We waited and spoke with the other teams but nobody wanted to ride with us, so Bert Grabsch chased them down just like he does in time trials.
“Of course it’s just the first stage, we have to take the responsibility to win every race now as we have in the last two years. So for sure that’s the focus now again. And no crashes,” said Greipel, referring the the collision with a parked police bike that forced him out of the race last year.
Not a mechanical, a technological.
Defending champion Allan Davis had a rough day out, the out being any hope of winning the general classification. The Australian had a technological break down. His Astana team neglected to bring radios so when the peloton split on the Megler climb, Davis was in the dark.
“It was just a bit of a miscommunication, we didn’t have radios,” said Davis. “I was just riding within myself up the climb and found myself 50 meters behind my teammates and they didn’t realize. They just started pulling and I didn’t realize I was on the back so it left me behind.” Twisted Spoke notes that the Post-Bruyneel Astana is already off to a disorganized start.
Radio dispatch from The Shack: “Almost.”
Lance Armstrong made it clear he had high expectations for his new team. Corporate sponsors flew in, expensive brunches were served and the Texan talked up the fitness level of their sprinter, Gert Steegmans.
The former Katusha rider hadn’t raced for six months but after the Shack training camp, Armstrong had declared him ready to rock. Well, almost. Steegmans was well-positioned for the final sprint but was no match for Greipel.
The 38 year old Armstrong finished the stage in good spirits and more importantly, in one piece.
The Rocky Rainbow.
World Road Champion Cadel Evans had a decidedly rocky start to his season. Riding for his new team, BMC Racing, Evans wasn’t as lucky as Armstrong. Barely 300 meters into the race, an Euskaltel-Euskadi rider went down taking out half the peloton with him.
“I started on the front row and still managed to get in the middle of it, but that happens and from there on in everyone was a bit nervous of course,” said Evans. “I had a one in two chance of being in it.” Perhaps Evans was distracted by trying to memorize the names of his new teammates.
A massive crash, forgotten radios, a favorite who pretended not to be. The 2010 racing season is off to an exciting start. Andre the Still Giant is as fast as ever.