Santos Tour Down Under: Early shocks in Australia as race throws up

Sky Sports' Orla Chennaoui reports from Adelaide

Last Updated: 21/01/14 3:28pm

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After a dearth of cycling action over the winter months, the first race of the season has already given us plenty to talk about.

From the 47-degree heat that made Adelaide the hottest place on earth last week, to the threat of bushfires almost leading to the cancellation of the first stage of the Santos Tour Down Under, rider safety has been a hot topic.

Then there's been the action on the bikes. On Sunday we witnessed what looked very like a changing of the guard, with last year's sprint sensation Marce Kittel taking the mantle from his German compatriot Andre Greipel at the criterium curtain-raiser for the Tour.

Greipel was even out-sprinted by Aussie Simon Gerrans in the first stage of racing today - a fast man, sure, but not a specialist in the mould of the man they call "the Gorilla".

One rider who impressed hugely today was UCI WorldTour debutant and new Team Sky signing Nathan Earle. The neo-pro was only drafted in at the very last minute to replace the injured CJ Sutton, landing in Oz the evening before the race. Not that he'd been at home putting his feet up.

His block of training in native Tasmania included a marathon 11-hour session on the roads covering 330km, and beating the record of his countryman and team leader Richie Porte.

The fact that Earle was involved at the business end of the action for most of the day after such short notice spoke volumes, and certainly augurs well for the future.

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