On Sunday evening, German sprinter Marcel Kittel won the People’s Choice Classic, a 51-kilometer prelude to the Tour Down Under.
The eight-time Tour de France stage winner took advantage of a lead-out from Giant-Alpecin teammate Koen de Kort to win, making him the favorite for the season-opening tour, which begins Tuesday. The victory doesn’t factor into the general classification, but Kittel, 26, will wear the tour leader jersey, reported USA Today.
The 30-lap race, a 1.7-mile street circuit, was held in Adelaide, in Australia’s East End. It ended with riders struggling to dodge a collapsed inflatable finish line with the help of spectators. Kittel’s team launched him at the finish line ahead of Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle of Spain and Wouter Wippert of the Netherlands, who placed second and third, respectively.
“It’s actually impossible to control in such a big race,” Kittel told USA Today. “I think my boys did an awesome job. We always try to come back and stay together as much as possible, and in the end it was sort of a good lead-out with all the chaos. It’s a great start to the season.”
Kittel will be the sprinter to beat in Tuesday’s stage, which runs from Tanunda in the Barossa Valley to Campbelltown in the Adelaide suburbs.