Stage 1 of the Tour Down Under was a hot one. With temperatures up to 40° Celsius the race directors decided to shorten the stage to 118km. The peloton was also thinking about the week ahead. Laurens De Vreese (Astana) was the first rider to attack and with no reaction from any of the other riders he was granted the first KOM of the day.
De Vreese opened a gap of 4 minutes before Orica-Scott decided to keep things under control. The chase proved successful. With less than 20 kilometers to go it was all together again, until Jan Bakelants (Ag2R) took the race into his hands. He managed to hold the peloton off for quite a while. However, with the finish line in Lyndoch looming the peloton picked up speed. South Africa’s national road race champion Jaco Venter took to the front for Team Dimension Data, while Tyler Farrar piloted Mark Renshaw and Nathan Haas behind him. Coming into the final 1.5km of today’s racing the bunch swept up Bakelants.
Sunweb was then the first team to come to the fore. Renshaw and Haas reacted right away but were taken over by Bora-hansgrohe. World Champion Peter Sagan lead out the sprint for Sam Bennett. Their move came to early though. Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) timed his effort right. Like last year, he took the win. Danny van Poppel came second. Renshaw was our African team’s best placed finisher in 11th position.
Ewan also took over the first leaders jersey of the 2017 Tour Down Under. Thanks to a time bonus picked up during the stage Haas ranks 5th in the overall for Team Dimension Data.
Alex Sans Vega – Sports Director
It was a very hot day. At some point the temperature went up to 45° celsius. There was an early solo break, but the rest of the peloton took it easy. We tried to focus on the bonus sprints and Nathan was able to get some seconds for the overall. That was good, as the GC was very often only decided by seconds in the past. He is now 5th overall, which leaves us all options for tomorrow’s stage to Paracomb.