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Kittel Wins People’s Choice Classic

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German sprinter Marcel Kittel grabbed early bragging rights over Andre Greipel after the Tour Down Under warm-up criterium through the streets of Adelaide on Sunday. Kittel was perfectly placed on Greipel’s wheel coming into the final straight before overhauling his fellow countryman to win by half a wheel. Greipel looked in the perfect position to win the 50-kilometre (31-mile) race as his Lotto-Belisol team took control with two laps remaining. But Kittel powered past him on the line with a perfectly-timed sprint.

“I’m really impressed by the boys today – they did a great job. A big thank you goes to the team,” Kittel said. “The first sprint of the season is always complicated so it’s always a bit of a waiting game and you need a bit of luck to be in the perfect position and I was in the perfect spot to start my sprint. It’s always a relief to get the first win, now we can take it a little easy.”

Third place went to 19-year-old Australian Caleb Ewan, who is part of the local UniSA team. Four riders had tried to break away from the peloton early in the race, with Anthony Roux, Nathan Haas, Luca Wackermann and Axel Domont opening up a 67 second gap after nine of the 25 laps. However, the teams with the fancied sprinters never let the breakaway get too far ahead and started to reel them in with 10 laps to go. Team Sky then took control to try and get their sprinter Chris Sutton to the front but with two laps to go the Lotto Belisol took over.

Kittel’s Giant-Shimano team were also prominent and they put the German, who won four stages of last year’s Tour de France, within striking distance of Greipel. That was all Kittel needed to get the psychological advantage ahead of Tuesday’s first stage. Earlier, Italian Giovanni Visconti was taken to hospital with a suspected compound fracture of his leg after a crash on one of the tight corners early in the race.

People’s Choice Classic
1. Marcel Kittel (GER/Giant-Shimano) 1:04:35
2. Andre Greipel (GER/Lotto-Belisol) @ s.t.
3. Caleb Ewan (AUS/UniSA)
4. Chris Sutton (AUS/Team Sky)
5. Jose Rojas (ESP/Movistar)
6. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA/Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
7. Mark Renshaw (AUS/Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
8. Jonathan Cantwell (AUS/Drapac)
9. Elia Viviani (ITA/Cannondale)
10. Jurgen Roelandts (BEL/Lotto-Belisol)