Frank Schleck finishes 18th in the first stage of the Tour Down Under after returning from a doping ban.

Schleck finished in the main group alongside favourites Richie Porte and Rohan Dennis.

This is the first race Schleck had been involved in since his was banned for a year for testing positive to the banned substance diuretic Xipamide during 2012's Tour de France.

The ban was reduced by 12 months from the usual two year suspension when it was said that Schleck had not ingested the substance intentionally.

Schleck came third in the Tour de France in 2011, behind his brother Andy and overall winner Cadel Evans.

The Luxembourg cyclist says he is happy to be back racing, reports Cycling News: "It's good to pin a race number on your back again, and when you do that, you want to win. It was harder than I thought today, but it was nice to race.

"Everyone is fresh, just waiting for that last climb. I am very happy I made it back to the front group. At the base of the climb, I got caught up behind a crash.

"Then I jumped back on my bike, and I had to put my chain back on. I hit the panic button at that point, but I was able to get back to the group."

Schleck is looking to race in this years Tour de France and racing in the Tour Down Under will help him get back to race fitness.

The 2011 Tour de France podium finisher is now riding for Trek Factory Racing with his brother.

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