Cycling | 17 januari 2017
Team LottoNL-Jumbo unscathed through Tour Down Under stage 1
The first stage of the Tour Down Under ended in a bunch sprint with Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) on top. The LottoNL-Jumbo riders came thorough unscathed in the first stage of this year’s first WorldTour race. Robert Wagner took the top honours for the team in 16th.
"The sprint was chaotic, but it always is,” Wagner said. “In the last kilometre, I was able to take my chance. It went well, but I never found a position to sprint for the win.”
Starting in Unley, the sun already made for a hot day with temperatures around 40°. Belgian Laurens de Vreese (Astana) broke away solo and held his place all day, at least until the sprint teams were ready to fight for the win. As in the People's Choice Classic two days ago, the explosiveness of Caleb Ewan was too much. The Australian won over Danny van Poppel (Sky) and Sam Bennett (Bora).
The stage was due to cover 145 kilometres, but with the mercury going to 47°C at one point, the organization decided to shorten it by cutting the last city circuit. Instead, they raced a 118-kilometre stage.
"It was extremely hot. On the first climb I saw 47 degrees on my little computer,” Wagner said. “And that number dropped little when we went down hill. Your heart rate remained very high and you noticed everyone was suffering."
Engels looks ahead
"The extreme weather protocol was used because of the terrible heat,” said Sports Director Addy Engels. “It did not matter anyway because it was going to be a bunch sprint. We took care of our man for the overall classification, Robert Gesink. Tomorrow, we will again make every effort to keep Gesink up front and protected.”
Gesink placed 27th today. He sits 29th overall, 10 seconds behind leader Ewan.