Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Cancer Council Classic - The sprinters flex their legs

The racing down under kicked off today in Adelaide, Australia with the Cancer Council Classic. The race was a short 51 kilometer event in the style of an American criterium. The course, flat and fast, suited a sprinter and would be the first opportunity to see who was showing their best form.
The obvious match up everyone was waiting for was Mark Cavendish of HTC-Highroad and Omega Pharma-Lotto rider Andre Greipel. Who would be quicker in those last 300 meters? Also in the field was new RadioShack rider Robbie McEwen. In the eleventh hour he was rescued from the implosion of the Pegasus Group squad and was thrown a lifeline by RadioShack. Would McEwen be looking to show his gratitude to The Shack by snagging the first win of the season? The quiet American sprinter, Tyler Farrar of Garmin-Cervélo, was also on the line at the Cancer Classic. Was his off-season spent on the velodrome pay off?

As expected in this style of racing it was fast from the gun with attacks putting all the riders into the red-zone. A break went up the road and in a show of force Greipel put his Omega Pharma-Lotto riders to the front keeping the five escapees in check.

With five laps remaining the break was caught and the sprinter's teams started to organize. Team Sky was lining up their fast man and last year's winner Greg Henderson. However on the last lap and flying through the final corner Henderson slid out, hitting the ground.

In a post race Twitter post Henderson said the crash was not the fault of anyone and he wasn't sure why he went down. My guess was his mach-4 speed through the turn and the laws of physics came into play.

This set up HTC-Highroad's Matt Goss and his teammate Mark Renshaw perfectly. Coming around the melee the two HTC sprinters had nothing but open road in front of them. Renshaw known for leading out Mark Cavendish instead piloted Goss to the win.

"The plan was for Cav to sprint off Renshaw's wheel and for me to be on Cav's wheel to give us a couple of options," said Goss.

Today's race was just a crowd pleaser for the main event - The Santos Tour Down Under. Look for the real battle to begin between Greipel and Cavendish this Tuesday.

In his spare time Neil raises platypus as pets. Follow Neil on Twitter ,Facebook , and for an off the cuff preview of the Tour Down Under

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