Cautious start for ORICA-GreenEDGE at People's Choice Classic

Sun 19 Jan 2014

It was a quiet first outing in Adelaide for ORICA-GreenEDGE at the People’s Choice Classic, the lead-in race for the Santos Tour Down Under. German sprint powerhouses Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) and Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) finished 1-2 in the hectic sprint finish, ahead of young gun Caleb Ewan (UniSA-Australia) in third. ORICA-GreenEDGE finished outside of the top ten.

The Tour Down Under warm-up was raced on a new closed street circuit in downtown Adelaide, with 25 laps of the Victoria Drive course making up the 50 kilometre long race. The evening criterium promised to deliver a bunch sprint finale, but a nervous lead-in affected the team’s pre-race plan.

“The plan was to save ourselves during the race for the final sprint,” said Sport Director Matt White. “But that changed mid-race. There was quite a big crash early on with about seven or eight guys involved, and one seriously injured. There was an ambulance on the course following that. The race kept going, but it was chaotic.”

The main casualty of the crash was Italian Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), who suffered a suspected broken leg and was taken from the course by ambulance. With tensions high in the first WorldTour event of the season, the ORICA-GreenEDGE riders opted to play it safe on the fast-paced street circuit.

“We were lucky none of our guys were caught up in the crash,” White continued. “But things were a bit dangerous out there, so the guys decided not to contest the final sprint, mainly due to the tricky last corner. It was a good decision- the big picture for us is Tour Down Under.”

Young Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan grabbed third place in his first WorldTour appearance. He is riding the Santos Tour Down Under with Australian composite team UniSA-Australia, and will join ORICA-GreenEDGE for the latter part of the 2014 season.

“It was an impressive effort by Caleb,” said White. “He went head to head with the two best sprinters in the world tonight. We’re looking forward to having him onboard.”

With all seven riders escaping unscathed from this evening’s twilight criterium, the team will now focus on Tuesday’s Santos Tour Down Under start, with stage one set to kick off in the bushfire-affected town of Nuriootpa.

“Nothing changes for us after tonight. We will just go for an easy ride tomorrow and focus on the race ahead. The weather has finally cooled down here, and the good news is that it looks like stage one will go ahead as planned. The bushfires that were threatening that region are under control. So everyone is ready for the race to get underway on Tuesday.”