Sam Bennett, Shane Archbold and co got off to a winning start in their first World Tour outing with Deceuninck-Quick Step in stage 1 of the Santos Tour Down Under. The Irishman took the win well clear of Jasper Philipsen, while New Zealand’s Bennett started his campaign strongly in the sharp end of the main field.
Looking to build on his win in the People’s Choice Classic, Caleb Ewan’s first opportunity in the colours of Lotto Soudal came in stage 1 of the Santos Tour Down Under; 150km starting and finishing in Tanunda and taking the field around a 30km circuit that featured the third category climb of Breakneck Hill Road.
The day began with intent show from Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Daryl Impey in particular. The defending champion showed his ambitions early as he took the first three-second time bonus before a breakaway finally went clear. In the move were Joey Rosskopf of CCC Team, Uni-SA’s Jarrad Drizners, Michael Storer of Team Sunweb and NTT Pro Cycling’s Dylan Sunderland. The quartet gained a near-4 minute advantage before their lead began to descend.
The breakaway shared the accolades at the KOM and sprint points with Drizners showing his cards and tallying up the points at both before Rosskopf took off on a solo attack that lasted until the peloton finally caught him. The American held a 1.30min lead over the bunch at one point, with the remnants of the break being brought back into the fold. Rosskopf was caught with 35km of the stage still left to race.
Despite there being plenty of racing still to go there was little any breakaway hopefuls could do to prevent the sprinters having their day. On the run in to 1km to go Shane Archbold of Deceuninck-QuickStep was leading the charge with teammate Michael Mørkøv on his wheel. Once the Kiwi swung off the Danish national champion took over for Bennett. The Irishman launched with a clear run on the left hand side, although it was UAE-Team Emirates’ Jasper Philipsen who got the jump on him, making the Irishman work hard for the win.
But Bennett won out in the end, racing to the first ochre jersey of the 2020 Santos Tour Down Under with Philipsen second and BORA-Hansgrohe’s Erik Baška third.
Kiwi George Bennett of Team Jumbo-Visma was first of the New Zealanders home, safe in the bunch in 21st place, with Jack Bauer of Mitchelton-SCOTT and Shane Archbold finishing in the bunch; while EF Pro Cycling’s Tom Scully finished just a little while later after helping teammate Kristoffer Halvorsen to 6th place.