Spectators and riders alike were greeted with some very warm temperatures. Olivier Kaisen (Silence-Lotto) and Andoni Lafuente (Euskaltel-Euskadi) wasted no time in wresting free from the field to enjoy the sun all by their lonesome. The duo formed the day’s break and spent most of the stage out front sharing KOMs, Sprints, and the lonely road ahead.
The early break met the traditional demise – they were caught with 30k to go: Breaks 0, Peloton 1 for 2009. The real racing started when Jack Bobridge (UniSA) launched an audacious counter attack. Bobridge’s lead grew to over a minute but was nullified in the last five kilometres by a consolidated effort from Katusha and Columbia.
Andre Greipel (Columbia) started his title defense by taking out the stage ahead of Baden Cooke and Stuart O’Grady. Robbie McEwen’s dash to the line was thwarted after he struck a spectator’s camera whilst leading the charge for home at about 150m to go. For his efforts, he received a bad bruise in the shape of a camera lens and is unsure as to whether he’ll continue tomorrow.
The stage departed from the inner city suburb of Norwood. The main street is usually characterised by boutiques and cafes, however this morning the race and Lance fever literally took over the town.
Each day I set myself the challenge of finding a good coffee, to be honest I am a little obsessed about the task. Norwood was the host today, as soon we turned into the main street I was onto a winner with a small Italian deli. Unfortunately the stove top espresso pots that lined the window were misleading. Manto’s, just down the road was recommended, the crиme was thin and coffee was a litter bitter but there was no aftertaste. I would rate it as a 3.5 out of 5, which is pretty good considering how busy they were. Stay tuned for the rest of the week as I will continue to hunt down a good coffee.
With my caffeine fix sorted I started to mingle around the team cars. I had a chat with Will Walker (Fuji-Servetto) who fits the mould of a stereotypical laid-back Aussie perfectly. Let’s not let his DS know that he wasn’t sure who the team leader is. It is a good thing that Daniele Nardello doesn’t speak English as we discussed the topic next to him. Will is a member of the new Fuji-Servetto crew and instantly expressed his enjoyment of his SRAM equipped Fuji when I made comment of its striking appearance.
Will Walker requested a push up Checkers, but it was Ivan Dominguez who should have done the asking.
When we moved on to discussing the upcoming stage, Will conveyed that he doesn’t enjoy first stages and requested that I give him a push up Checkers Hill when I saw him out the back of the peloton. The funny thing about this is Will took 3rd on the day’s first KOM at Gould Creek and it should have been Ivan Dominquez requesting the push as he was the last rider up Checkers.
And now some of the tid bits from the sign-on;
The Cofidis boys chatting to the clown in broken English;
The crowd swamping Lance when he emerged from the van and
A pensive Robbie McEwen taking shelter in the team car.
The PEZ Team car was jam packed with a few extra passengers we stumbled upon, fellow Canberrans Laura, Meg and Chirs who are all AIS PhD students ‘stranded’ in Adelaide without transport. As we made a B-line for Checker’s Hill, Laura put her adventure racing skills to good use as she acted as navigator, whilst wedged in the middle.
The climb is under 1km long but kicks up to 15%. I made the wise move to park at the base of the climb as I really doubted that the fully laden and gutless hire car would make it up. My judgment was justified as for the next hour we were entertained by the constant stream of riders cracking and cars struggling with stop-start traffic. The crowd was truly amazing for a climb 70km from the city – 3 or 4 deep all along the road. Whenever a rider was seen to struggle, the crowd would pitch in with a good push. Much to our amusement the bicycle police tried to make everyone stand off the road, I would like to see them try this with a Basque crowd! We would take one step back to keep them happy and 2 steps forward once they went past.
Twenty minutes behind schedule the breakaway arrived on the climb, the crowd got behind them as they dug deep. But once the peleton arrived it was a completely different story. The crowd erupted with a sea of noise. The bunch was spread out across the road, Lance, George, Stuey and Michael all making their presence felt on the front. The speed difference between them and the average punter was amazing. No matter how many times I see a bike race I am blown away by how easy the pros make it look.
Once the race had passed we had our own event to contest: getting off the mountain. One road in = one road out. The girls did a great job of blocking traffic as I struggled to whip a U-turn in. Once on the road it was the usual mayhem of hundreds of riders and drivers all attempting to make it back to Mawson Lakes for the finish. We made it with time to spare, found a prime parking spot, this time with our escape in mind. Honestly our vantage point for the finish was a little disappointing, the retaining wall a few meters back from the road didn’t live up to expectations. All we saw was a rush of riders – we had no chance of identifying them as they contested the finish. But not all was lost as we definitely came away with an idea of how speed looks up close.
Stage 1 Results
1 Andrй Greipel (Ger) Team Columbia – High Road 3.45.27 (37.258 km/h)
2 Baden Cooke (Aus) UniSA
3 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank
4 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha
5 Jacopo Guanieri (Ita) Liquigas
6 Allan Davis (Aus) Quick Step
7 Willem Stroetinga (Ned) Team Milram
8 Timothy Gudsell (NZl) Franзaise des Jeux
9 Luca Barla (Ita) Team Milram
10 Andrйa Grendene (Ita) Lampre – N.G.C
General Classification After Stage 1
1 Andrй Greipel (Ger) Team Columbia – High Road 3.45.16
2 Baden Cooke (Aus) UniSA 0.05
3 Olivier Kaisen (Bel) Silence – Lotto
4 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank 0.07
5 Andoni Lafuente (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
6 William Walker (Aus) Fuji-Servetto 0.10
7 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha 0.11
8 Jacopo Guanieri (Ita) Liquigas
9 Allan Davis (Aus) Quick Step
10 Willem Stroetinga (Ned) Team Milram