Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge Cycling Team) is the first leader of the UCI WorldTour ranking of 2012 after winning the Santos Tour Down Under in Australia. Gerransâ success means Australia also leads the nation ranking, while RadioShack-Nissan leads the team ranking.
Gerrans is the current Australian national champion and confirmed his class with overall victory in the six-day race. He finished equal on time with Spainâs Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) but won overall due to better stage placings. Portugalâs Tiago Machado (RadioShack-Nissan) finished third at eight seconds.
Gerrans scored a total of 107 UCI WorldTour ranking points: 100 for overall victory and seven for taking second place on stage five. Valverde has a total of 87 points. Machado is third in the individual ranking with 72 point, Michael Rogers (Sky Procycling) is fourth with 61 points and Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Nissan) is fifth with 40 points.
The Santos Tour Down Under marked the UCI WorldTour debut for the new GreenEdge Cycling Team. There were huge expectations on their shoulders but the Australian team worked hard all race and Gerrans delivered a hugely emotional and significant first UCI WorldTour victory. It was his second career win at the Tour Down Under after also winning in 2006.
"When I was told that I was getting the leader's jersey (for the final stage), I didn't feel any pressure at all, it was just a nice surprise. I knew it would give us a tough job for the last stage, but as it turns out, I can't be happier," Gerrans said.
"This is just fantastic. I can't thank the GreenEdge team enough for this victory. It's an even sweeter victory than my first one here in 2006. It gives me the opportunity to thank for the first time the Ryan family (the GreenEdge team owners Gerry and Andrew) and (GreenEdge team manager) Shayne Bannan for putting this team together. It couldn't be a better start for us.â
The first UCI WorldTour race of the season saw some high-speed and fiercely contested sprint finishes.
Germanyâs AndrÃ© Greipel (Lotto Belisol Team) won three of the six stages after some superb work by his teammates and an unmatchable final burst of speed. Other stages were won by Will Clarke (UniSA), Oscar Freire (Katusha Team) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team).
RadioShack-Nissan won the team prize based on time at the Santos Tour Down Under and had Machado and Bakelants in the top five. That strong performance placed them top of the UCI team ranking with 115 points. Movistar Team is second with 108 points, while the GreenEdge Cycling Team is third with 107 points.
Australia proudly leads the nations ranking after success in its only UCI WorldTour race with a massive 188 points. Spain is second with 114 points and Portugal is third with 74 points.
The next UCI WorldTour race is the Paris-Nice stage race in France in March. Until then, Gerrans and Australia can boast about their special start to the 2012 season.