Tour Down Under Stage 1
- by Cathy Mehl / photos © Graham Watson

- Official race web site: www.tourdownunder.com.au

Stage One: Mawson Lakes to Angaston, 129km/80mi

After Sunday evening's Classic criterium, it was time for the official start of the 10th Tour Down Under as well as the opening race for the 2008 UCI Pro Tour. Racing under the clear skies of sunny South Australia, 132 riders contested the first stage of a Pro Tour race to be held outside of Europe. With the Australian sprinters eager to please their fans on home soil, it was almost certain to be a day for the sprinters.

An early climb at only 11km into the race had several groups trying to escape before the roads went up, but high speeds in the peloton kept the group together until the descent. Astana Cycling Team's Rene Haselbacher broke away with six other riders and gained a small advantage while Team High Road controlled the pace of the main field. However soon enough it was one group all together again.


Team Astana's Rene Haselbacher on the attack

With just over 30km completed a group of three managed to establish a break with this one showing some staying power. Australian rider Richie Porte (UniSA) and two Frenchmen Mickael Buffaz (Cofidis) and Dimitri Champion (Bouygues Telecom) joined forces and gained a wide margin of almost seven minutes while Rabobank and Team High Road kept control of the pace from the main field behind.

As the finish drew nearer the sprinters' teams moved to the front and the gap continued to fall with the trio being caught at 3km to go. Now the action heated up and the fast men of the peloton readied to contest the sprint. Barreling down the right side of the course 26-year old Aussie rider Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole) took the win in front of Jose Rojas Gill (Caisse D'Epargne) and fellow countryman Graeme Brown (Rabobank). Renshaw also took the first General Classification and will ride stage two in the leader's jersey.


The peloton comes together to bring it home

Beyond the Finish Line:Within a couple of hours by car from Adelaide, the Barossa Valley was discovered a century and a half ago as having a most appropriate soil and climate for growing wine grapes. German and English pioneers who had migrated to the Barossa Valley found wine-making fruitful and in the 150 years or so since that time, the Barossa has grown as famous as its wines. From this grape-growing region you will find Shiraz, Grenache and Riesling.

Stage One Results
1 Mark Renshaw (C.A) 3:13:33
2 Jose Joaquin q Rojas Gil (GCE)
3 Graeme Brown (RAB)
4 Allan Davis (UNI)
5 Jan Robert Forster (GST)
6 Stuart O'grady (CSC)
7 Mathew Hayman (RAB)
8 Andre Greipel (THR)
9 Lloyd Mondory (ALM)
10 Murilo Antonio Fischer (LIQ)

Astana Riders on Stage One
25 Rene Haselbacher
44 Aaron Kemps
48 Jose Luis Rubiera Vigil
75 Koen De Kort
107 Julien Mazet
119 Benoit Joachim
121 Steve Morabito

* Results courtesy www.cyclingnews.com