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Team Sky Takes One-Two at Tour Down Under’s Cancer Classic Crit Opener

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Team Sky made one heck of a professional bike race debut today at the Santos Tour Down Under.  The new British team made a compelling case for being invited to the Tour de France by moving their paceline to the front of the pack somewhere in the two-to-go lap.

Pulling at a ferocious pace, Sky’s Russell Downing pushed the needle into the red zone before moving aside for teammate Matthew Hayman to lead out.  Columbia-HTC started coming around, almost blocking Sky’s riders against the barriers, but the boys in black-and-blue came back around and Chris Sutton led Greg Henderson to victory, giving Team Sky first and second in the opening Cancer Classic Criterium.

“It does not get any better than that,” said Henderson. “We were joking about winning today and putting ourselves out there on the map for the new sponsor.

“They are an unbelievable team, I dont think I have ever been on a lead out that was as fast as that. In the end my job was pretty easy, I just followed Chris Sutton and the rest of the fellas. Wow what a feeling.”

The pace and tactics were more than expected given that the results from today’s crit don’t add to the overall time or points for the Tour Down Under, and it’s clear that Team Sky came to play.

Armstrong, meanwhile, showed real strength in a mid-race five-person breakaway, saying he felt “better than last year.”

“I felt like I tested them a little bit,” said Armstrong. “We had a few good weeks in Hawaii so I know I’ve got a bit of power, but sometimes it’s better to be up on those small groups than to be back fighting with 100 guys for every wheel and every corner.

“Everybody was completely going for it, no talking and only a little bit of looking around after the corners to see how close they were,” he added. “You get inside 10 (laps to go) and then to seven and six and you think ‘uh oh’ … if there’s a crash in the field, if two teams can’t get together or don’t get together, you just never know.

“…I certainly felt better today than last year – but last year in this event I felt a little like a monkey screwing a football, too,” he said. “It was not pretty last year, this year was a little more comfortable.”

Photo by Graham Watson.  Check out his full gallery from today’s event here.

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14 years ago

Fantastic win for SKY, it was a surprise to see a team dominate Columbia like that.

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