While a break controlled much of the Adelaide People’s Choice Classic – the short criterium opener to the Tour Down Under – watching and waiting from the peloton was BORA-hansgrohe’s Peter Sagan, wearing the rainbow stripes of the UCI World Champion for the third season in a row. His eye on the victory, the Slovak rider surged ahead in the sprint finish, taking the win after his BORA-hansgrohe teammates had controlled the pace expertly most of the day.
With just 50.6km to race today, it would be hard to see who was in form today for the rest of the Tour Down Under, but the 22 laps would give riders a chance to stretch their legs over a straightforward course on the Adelaide street circuit. Four intermediate sprints would liven the race up – with it being down to the riders to bring the excitement. A sprint finish was all but guaranteed – and the fast men in the peloton would be ready and waiting to shine for the fast and flat finale in front of huge crowds.
The Team Tactics
As one of the first races of the season and the first time some of the BORA-hansgrohe riders had raced in a few months, today was a chance for the team to show how the results of team training camps and their own efforts over the off-season. With a sprint finish to end the day, you could be sure the familiar teal helmets of BORA-hansgrohe would be up there in the finale to try to bring the team the win.
Looking to make an impact on the short opening stage, a small breakaway went off at the start of the day. What was a three-man group grew in number to seven as the intermediate sprints came and went, with the peloton watching closely to make sure they didn’t amass too much of an advantage, with the BORA-hansgrohe riders controlling the pace. The break splintering as the final laps ticked away meant it was only a matter of time until they were swept up, and on lap 18 of 22, it was all back together, the pace rising. Jay McCarthy took the intermediate sprint on lap 20, setting the tone for the finish, and while a crash in the final metres caused some confusion in the bunch, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, was too far ahead at this point to notice, taking the victory with a textbook sprint, claiming his first win in his first race in the 2018 season.