Sport Cycling Simon Gerrans wins stage one of cycling tour
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Simon Gerrans wins stage one of cycling tour

Simon Gerrans powers to the line.
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Australian cycling star Simon Gerrans is the man to beat in the Tour Down Under after winning stage one.

The Orica-GreenEDGE leader outsprinted German Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) and Australian Steele Von Hoff (Garmin Sharp) in an uphill sprint at the end of stage one.

Earlier this month, Gerrans showed he was in form by winning the Australian road championship.

Greipel has been almost unbeatable in sprint finishes at the Tour, but the uphill finish worked to Gerrans’ advantage and he had a perfect leadout from team-mate Daryl Impey.

Gerrans, Greipel and retired Australian Stuart O’Grady are the only riders to have won the Tour twice.

A front group of about 50 riders went clear as the peloton splintered on the Menglers Hill Climb within 15km of the finish.

Australian pre-race favourites Cadel Evans (BMC) and Richie Porte (Sky) were among the leaders.

Australian Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) went clear at the top of Menglers Hill to take the King of the Mountain prize, but he was soon caught.

Rising Australian star Caleb Ewan (UniSA) was among those dropped on the climb.

Europcar team-mates Yukiya Arashiro (Japan) and Bjorn Thurau (Germany) attacked on the descent before the front group caught them with about 1km left.

There was a crash just before 1km to go which appeared to take out several riders.

Australians Neil Van Der Ploeg (UniSA) and Will Clarke (Drapac) attacked within minutes of the start and built a lead of four minutes.

But the peloton always kept the gap in check and they were caught at 119km.

Gerrans gained a one-second time bonus when he finished third on the second intermediate sprint at 71km.

That bonus could be important, given the overall Tour is often decided by less than 10 seconds.

The stage went ahead as planned after concerns over the weekend about a nearby bushfire, which was contained.