Greg Henderson lauds team after victory

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 23/01/2013

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New Zealand veteran Greg Henderson was singing the praises of his Lotto-Belisol team after helping Andre Greipel to a stage win and the ochre jersey at the Tour Down Under yesterday.

Greipel's victory at the end of a bunch sprint in the opening 134km stage from Prospect to Lobethal was his 12th win at the traditional season opener in South Australia, making him the most successful rider in the race's history.

"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."

Greipel now has a narrow lead over the field with five stages remaining.

Defending champion Simon Gerrans and world road champion Phillippe Gilbert are both within 7sec of him.

"We expected a really tough final and we expected a bit more attacks, but our team did an awesome job again," Greipel told Channel 9 after the stage.

"In the beginning Oliver Kaisen was pulling together the breakaway and controlling the bunch. The guys did an awesome job again. 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 to do the lead out."

The stage was considered tailor-made for the German, who also claimed Sunday's prologue for the third time.

"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. Tim Wellens was pulling to control it a little bit and Adam Hansen set up the lead out train and Sieberg, Roelandts and Greg Henderson were the best on my side."

Earlier in the stage, Australian Jordan Kerby, riding for UniSA-Australia, went on an extended solo breakaway after taking off at the opening gun. He was later joined by French rider Jerome Pineau, from Omega Pharma Quick Step, but the race had come back together with 5km to go.

New Zealand is also represented by Radioshack Leopard Trek riders, Jesse Sergent and George Bennett, and Jack Bauer, from Garmin Sharp.

Today's second stage takes the peloton 116.5km from Mt Barker to Rostrevor.

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- The Southland Times

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