The 129 kilometres long stage from Mawson Lakes
to Angaston was the start of this years UCI Pro-Tour series. After 10 kilometres a four men group with High Roads Frantisek
Rabon, UniSA’s Simon Clarke, Saunier Duval-Scott’s Arkaitz Duran Daroca and Bouygues Telecom’s Dimitri Champion
tried to break away but they were caught before the first climb. The first points for the mountain classification were taken
(Black Top Hill) by Philippe Gilbert (Francaise Des Jeux), followed by Jon Bru (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Marcus Burghardt (Team
high Road), David Moncoutie (Cofidis) and Dimitri Champion (Bouygues Telecom).
After the climb three riders attacked and opened a handy lead. Mickhael Buffaz
(Cofidis), Dimitri Champion (Bouyges Télécom) and Australian race debutant Richie Porte (Australia-UniSA) worked together
to amass a lead of more than four minutes at the first 'SA Lotteries Sprint' of the day contested at Lyndoch, 50 kilometres
into the stage. Buffaz earned the points and the bonus seconds ahead of Champion and Porte.
The trio extended their lead to more than six minutes before the peloton began
the chase and at the next 'SA Lotteries Sprint' at Nuriootpa (86 kilometres) the placings across the line were again Buffaz,
Champion and Porte. But the bunch came closer and with five kilometres to go the trio was caught by the bunch.
Mark Renshaw was the fastest man of the pack. It's the first ProTour victory
for the 25 year old. Renshaw crossed the line in a time of 3hr15min33sec to clinch the win ahead of Spaniard Jose Rojas Gil
of Caisse d'Epargne with Rabobank sprinter Graeme Brown crossing in third place.
"I’ve been chasing this victory for four years, so finally I’ve
got one and we’re in Australia … sensational," he said. "Every year it gets a little bit easier to get going and
as I get older I get better each year,“ Renshaw said.
"Today I wanted to take one back because of Sunday (when he finished second
in the Down Under Classic), but with 100m to go I didn’t know if I was going to get it … unbelievable," said Renshaw.
"With about 300 metres to go it kind of split at the front and because of the split I had to go early so I think I launched
at the 200 metre mark.“
"I haven’t done anything different, but it’s starting to pay off,"
said Renshaw. "My (team) director sat me down at the start of the week and said, ‘This year’s got to be the year
you step up’ because I’m 25, which is still young as a bike rider, but now is where I start to win big bike races."
"We caught the breakaways about five kilometres to go," explained Renshaw.
"I knew they were going to come back and my team worked really hard, so I needed to repay them.
"(Team mate) Jeremy (Hunt) did an awesome job to get me to the 500 metre mark
and then it was up to me," said Renshaw who had his parents, sister and girlfriend in the crowd cheering him home.
The mass sprint in the first stage of the Tour Down Under, Mawson Lakes-Angaston (129 kilometers), was one that went up
gradually. Rabo-trump Graeme Brown finished a good third, teammate Mathew Hayman was the seventh to pass the finish line.
"We already passed the finish line a round earlier. When I saw it I decided to let both Mathew and Graeme go for their own
chances," explained Rabobank's sports director Erik Dekker.
Dekker continued by saying: "I chose this sprinting tactic because Graeme can explode in such a sprint. But that did not
turn out to be the case. On the one hand one could wonder – but hindsight is always easier – whether I miscalculated
there. On the other hand, this also says much about Graeme when you look at how well he does in this tricky sprint," according
to Dekker, who watched Hayman start too early. "600 meters before the finish. He was dead in the water at the end."
Renshaw will wear the ochre Tour Down Under leader's jersey on tomorrow's 148km
Stage 2 that wends through the Adelaide Hills from Stirling to Hahndorf.