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  1. 2019 Tour de France Grand Depart routes revealed

    The 2019 Tour de France Grand Départ will feature a trip up the Muur van Geraardsbergen on stage 1 and a team time trial on stage 2, organisers ASO have announced.

    Next year’s edition of La Grande Boucle will start in Brussels for the second time in the race's history. It will be the fifth time that Belgium has hosted the Grand Départ. 

    The Brussels start will mark two major anniversaries: 100 years of the iconic race leader's yellow jersey, and 50 years since Brussels local Eddy Merckx won the first of his five Tour de France titles. Merckx is due to attend the Grand Départ after resolving a dispute between himself and ASO about the Tour of Oman. 


    At a special presentation in Brussels, ASO confirmed that stage 1 of the 2019 Tour de France will bring together the Flemish and Walloon sides of Belgium as it loops out from the capital, down to Charleroi, and back up.

    In an event that is set to mark several iconic moments of Tour de France history, it seems fitting that the route includes what is arguably Belgium’s most iconic climb.

    The Muur van Geraardsbergen - or Mur de Grammont - comes in the early kilometres of stage 1. It is unlikely to have a major impact on the day’s result but will be a visually spectacular moment. It is followed by the Bosberg but that's where the climbing ends, and it’s likely that the stage will end in a bunch sprint, giving the fast men a rare opportunity to put themselves into the yellow jersey.

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  2. Tour Down Under: Stage 1 highlights - Video

    Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) enjoyed a successful return to the Tour Down Under, beating home favourite Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) and world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) in the high-speed sprint in Lyndoch.

    Greipel, the stage win record holder, surfed the wheels of others in the finale before launching a stinging sprint to overhaul his rivals down the middle of the road. The German’s victory means he becomes the first wearer of the leader’s Ochre jersey with a four-second advantage over Ewan.

    Will Clarke (EF Education First-Drapac) sits third in the general classification after making it into the day’s breakaway with Nicholas Dlamini (Dimension Data) and Jhonatan Restrepo (Katusha-Alpecin) and hoovering up the bonus seconds and points available at the intermediate sprints.


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  3. Viviani finds positives in defeat at Tour Down Under

    Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) faded to fourth on the opening stage of the Tour Down Under but stressed that while he and his lead-out train need to adapt their tactics, there was still plenty of positives to be drawn from the first sprints of the 2018 season.

    The Italian had arguably the most organised lead-out on stage 1 but was out-powered to the line by stage winner Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal), Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) and a fast finishing Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). Still, this was Viviani’s first WorldTour race with Quick-Step Floors after switching from Team Sky in the winter.

    For Viviani, he and his team need to alter their leadout - primarily when and where his teammates drop him off before the true sprint begins.


    “We did a really good job today and there was much more feeling with the team, Morkov and Sabatini put me in a really good position,” he said at the finish.

    “One Bora guy came between me and Sabatini on the last corner but I didn’t really worry about that because I know the road is so big and Sabatini knows I want to go on the left side. Finally, I see the 200m to go sign and I say OK I go but it looks like if you start the sprint first here you don’t win in these two sprints. Maybe I don’t have the legs to do 200m in the front, I had a battle with Ewan until 50m to go, but then Greipel and Sagan came on the line.”

    “I’m not happy with fourth place but really happy with the job we do as a team, and it’s just the second sprint. Last year, I waited until Tour de Romandie for a win, but we are already close.”

    Tweaking the leadout train

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  4. Ewan takes the blame for losing Tour Down Under sprint

    Caleb Ewan's winning streak on the opening stage of the Tour Down Under ended in disappointment, with Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) taking victory to extend his career stage win count at the race to 17.

    Ewan won in Lyndoch in 2016 and 2017 and this was his first defeat when contesting a Tour Down Under sprint. All six of his wins at the race have come in the absence of Greipel.

    Hitting out in Lyndoch after rounding the final corner on the wheel of Bora-hansgrohe's Rudiger Selig, rather than Mitchelton-Scott leadout man Daryl Impey, Ewan faded on the left-hand side of the road as Greipel rocketed up the middle.


    Collecting the white jersey for best young rider before heading to the mixed zone, the Australian had time to reflect and compose himself before fronting up the press.

    "To be honest, I think he was just better in the closing stages," Ewan said of Greipel. "Maybe in hindsight, I went a little too early again but usually I can hold my sprint for that long. If I am going to be competitive in the bigger races then I will need to be able to hold my sprint for that long. I think he just had the better legs today and he popped around me at the last minute. It was good a ride by him."

    The dominant Tour Down Under sprinter in the last two editions of the race, Ewan has returned to Adelaide for more success but he does so with the aim of testing himself against the top sprinters in the peloton ahead of his Tour de France debut in July. For the 23-year-old, holding his sprint for as long as possible against the likes of Greipel, an 11-time Tour stage winner, is his plan of attack.

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  5. Greipel kick-starts Lotto-Soudal’s season with Tour Down Under masterclass

    Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) rolled back the years to win his first Tour Down Under stage since 2014 on Tuesday to extend his tally to 17 wins in the race. The German, who endured a difficult year on and off the bike in 2017, edged out Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) and Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) and paid tribute to both his team and his late mother, who sadly passed away last year.

    "She's always in my mind, she always will be. She was my biggest supporter, all my career and I know she keeps looking. My whole career is dedicated to her," he affectionately told reporters after finishing up with his podium duties and pulling on the first leader's jersey of this year's race.

    "It wasn't the easiest off-season," he said of last year.

    "The last two or three months… but I have to look to the future. We have a lot of support from around the family, around the team. It wasn't easy to deal with and still is (not), but the sport helps me to deal with everything."

    Lotto came into the race with one less rider after administrative issues surrounding Bjorg Lambrecht's whereabouts application. The Belgian team didn't let that stop them, and they delivered Greipel into the final few hundred meters. The German had to come from behind but profited from mix up in the Mitchelton leadout before overhauling Ewan, and taking his tally of stages wins in the race to 17. After questions over his speed and age, the German sprinter offered the perfect response on his 2018 WorldTour debut and quickly banished any disappointment after missing out on the People's Choice Classic last weekend.


    "A win is a win, I'm happy it turned out like that. To start the season with a win is always good for the team, for me. The criterium is one of the hardest races to win and when you do some small mistakes, you cannot win," he said.

    "It's nice when you're 35 and everyone tells you, you will get slower. But I don't feel it and I really like to race my bike. Every win is good for the whole team. We calculated that we are probably the oldest team around here but I think we have a lot of quality and experience in our team. You saw that today, and we have the right riders on our team."

    Although a third overall title might be too much of a stretch the German is keen on winning at least a further two sprints in this year's race. Given the high-class field on show in 2018, that will be no easy task but one thing is certain. Greipel is back. In fact, he might never have been away.

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