Peter Sagan takes eighth in sprint scramble on Tour Down Under opening stage.
As the first UCI WorldTour race of the 2019 season, riders were keen to show the results of their winter training regime on the first official stage of the Tour Down Under. With an attack from the drop of the flag, this group formed the day’s break and controlled much of the day. However, an early catch caused some uncertainty in the bunch, while heavy winds and high summer temperatures sapped the riders’ energy reserves. The late twists and turns as the race neared its end in Port Adelaide saw a chaotic sprint finish where BORA-hansgrohe’s Peter Sagan took eighth position.
The out and back stage saw riders tackle an undulating parcours, shortened slightly to 129km due to the extreme weather conditions, before a predicted sprint finish in Port Adelaide. While the day saw only one King of the Mountain climb, it was just a small part of the day’s 1,851m of climbing, making for a taxing stage. From the drop of the flag a group of four escaped and built up a strong advantage, topping out at more than four minutes, but with 38km remaining, this group was reeled back in earlier than expected. The ferocious heat put an end to any further escape attempts, the racing more relaxed from this point. Preparing for the finish, the BORA-hansgrohe riders took to the front to control the pace and prevent any further breakaways, while also protecting Peter Sagan from the strong winds. In spite of a crash in the feed zone, Lukas Pöstlberger, fought hard on the front in support of his teammate. The final twists and turns made for a chaotic sprint as many riders were caught out of position, making it a scramble for the line. In spite of his efforts, the Slovak National Champion, Peter Sagan, was unable to take the win in the finale, claiming eighth position and looking ahead to the race’s later stages to make an impact.
01 E. Viviani 3:19:47
02 M. Walscheid + 0:00
03 J. Mareczko + 0:00
08 P. Sagan + 0:00
From the Finish Line
"The first official stage of the Tour Down Under and the 2019 season was fast and it all came down to a quite hectic sprint finish. My result wasn't the best we would have liked but as I say, this is just the beginning of a very long season. I feel in good form and we have more stages ahead to fight." – Peter Sagan
"It was a stage marked by very high temperatures and a very strong pace. As expected, it was decided in a fast bunch sprint. The straight-line final kilometre saw all the sprint teams fighting for victory and Peter was there in the bunch. He wasn't able to get the win but he stayed safe in that hectic finish while the rest of the team worked well. Unfortunately, Lukas Pöstlberger had a crash in the feedzone and although it seems he just suffered superficial wounds, he will undergo some more tests." – Steffen Radochla