Kiwi Henderson helps Greipel win stage 1 of Tour Down Under
Andre Greipel claims the first stage win for the Lotto-Belisol team (AAP)
Germany's Andre Greipel easily won the first stage of the Tour Down Under yesterday, becoming the most successful rider in the race's history by claiming his 12th stage win overall.
Greipel's Lotto Belisol teammates – including Kiwi Greg Henderson - led him into a prominent position at the final bend and he drew away to win the 135-kilometre stage effortlessly from Arnaud Demare of France, Australia's Mark Renshaw and defending champion Simon Gerrans.
The same teamwork guided Greipel to victory in the tour's 51-kilometre criterium - his third win in that event - and he will wear the tour leader's jersey into the second stage.
"We expected a really tough finish and we expected a bit more attacks," Greipel said. "But our team did an awesome job again.
"In the beginning, Oliver Kaisen was pulling together the breakaway and controlling the bunch. It was really hard to control and keep me up in the front but I could stay out of trouble until the finish and my team did an awesome job in the leadout."
Henderson praised his team through social media.
"Again I can't say enough about the strength of Lotto-Belisol right now," Henderson said via Twitter. "Every rider . . . one goal . . . proud to be part of it. Well done guys."
Young Australian Jordan Kerby broke away from the peleton and led the race on his own, by a margin of up to six minutes, until the 95-kilometre mark.
He was reeled in by Jerome Pineau of France who held a more short-lived lead which peaked at around 1 minute, 15 seconds as Kerby fell back into the bunch.
World road-race champion Philippe Gilbert launched a brief attack to edge Pineau in the final interim sprint. But the peleton was all together with five kilometres to go on the undulating ride between Prospect and Lobethal on Adelaide's hilly outskirts.
Greipel's Lotto Belisol teammates and the riders from Britain's Sky team were prominent at the front of the peleton as the finish neared. They were able to guide Greipel into an attacking position near the finishing straight and he had no rivals over the final few hundred meters.
"We knew there was a bit of a crosswind on the climb so we put the train on the front and everyone kept me out of the wind," Greipel said.
"Tim Wellens was pulling to control it a little bit and Adam Hansen set up the leadout train and Sieberg, Roelandts and Greg Henderson were the best on my side."