One km to the finish at the sunny and cheerful town called Tanunda, it looked that our desire to open our World Tour season with a victory to the ages – might work.
After all, it all went as planned. There was the easy breakaway of the day, packed with Australian riders as expected. And as planned, when we needed to bring it back, it was the young Israeli Omer Goldstein who was promptly sent to the front to help two other teams to make it happen. Omer, full of enthusiasm and drive, turned on his engine, and with a 50kmh plus, it did not take too much time to set the stage for the real show: that sprint with all the expected characters: Elia Viviani, Sam Bennet, and of course: Greipel.
Our German legend felt good. He counted on the help of his ISN “train“, and they did not disappoint, bringing him to the front. The last guy was his buddy Rick Zabel, and Greipel sat on his wheel till a few hundred meters to the finish.
“I was actually in a good position,” he recalled. But then came what he called “my mistake,” referring his decision not to get right on the wheel of Elia Viviani, who came right behind him.
And Pretty fast.
But Zabel thought in retrospect that was on him: “I wanted to go perfect for Andre that I stayed in front too long and blocked him a bit. (He meant that he slowed and down). “I should have trusted his power more and let him stick to Viviani. He would then be in a better position”.
But in sprints, you rarely recover from miscalculated decisions and the chance of victory – out of the window. Bennet was the winner with Viviani close by behind. Andre had to settle for fifth.
He took it calmly. “That’s cycling”. He said. Then he added confidently. “Next time, it will end better.”
Zabel was even more encouraged. “We want more, and we can get more.” The next clear opportunity for a Greiple sprint may come in stage 4.
Back to Goldstein, who was the encouraging revelation of the day. “He was there when we needed him proved that he is a teammate we can count on,” said Zabel, who raced with Omer for the first time.
“I felt pretty good in that 40 km of the chase,” said Omer. “It proved to me that I am in good shape.”
Next: The 135 km from Woodside to Stirling. The main challenge there is four laps of 8 Km’s each, mostly uphill. It seems that the Power sprinters will be left out, something that leaves it wide open to riders like Zabel in a selected group of sprinters.
Enjoy the great gallery of pictures by Bettino Photo.