ADELAIDE (AFP) — Tom-Jelte Slagter (Blanco Pro Cycling) clinched the overall victory in the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under on Sunday as André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) won the final stage.
Slagter stayed out of trouble in the final 90km leg through the streets of Adelaide to win the general classification in 18 hours, 28 minutes and 32 seconds. Javier Moreno (Movistar) took the runner-up spot at 17 seconds while Geraint Thomas (Sky Pro Cycling) bounced into third overall at 25 seconds.
The 23-year-old Slagter, a former speed skater who took up cycling to stay fit during the summer months, was almost at a loss to describe his emotions after his victory.
“It’s really strange for me, I’d never won a race like this,” he said. “My first win was [on stage 3] at Stirling and that I take the jersey now, it’s really amazing.
“I can’t believe it, actually.”
Slagter added that he would have to reassess his goals for the rest of the season after his form during the week.
“The start of the season couldn’t be better, for me and the team also,” he said. “The next goal will be the classics, with La Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Amstel Gold. Those races are completely different [but] I’ve got a bit more confidence now.”
Slagter went into the final day with a 13-second advantage after a brilliant ride to finish second to Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) in Saturday’s penultimate stage up Old Willunga Hill.
While Slagter was never in any real danger of losing the ochre leader’s jersey, Thomas — who surrendered the jersey to the Blanco rider on Saturday, slipping from first to fifth in the process — was intent on making up lost ground on Sunday.
Thomas won the first intermediate sprint and came third in the second to pick up enough bonus seconds to move into third overall, leapfrogging Jon Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Ben Hermans (RadioShack-Leopard).
“Obviously we were disappointed yesterday but there was still one more day of racing left and we still had a slight chance of getting third,” Thomas said.
“The boys in the team were incredible again — it was a perfect day really and it’s been a pretty successful week.
“I was pretty down yesterday but coming into the race, if I thought I could come away with a stage win I’d have definitely been happy with that.”
For Greipel, meanwhile, Sunday’s victory marked his third stage win of this year’s tour.
After his Lotto-Belisol team led him out perfectly with a kilometer to go, Blanco’s Mark Renshaw surprised the big German when he slipped past him with only 200 meters remaining.
But Greipel didn’t panic and swept past Renshaw on the line to take the stage, beating the Blanco speedster and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), both of whom finished in the same time as the German.
American Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) finished fifth in the bunch sprint.
Editor’s note: Stay tuned for more from Adelaide.