Tour Down Under: Stage 2

Caleb Ewan wins stage of the Tour Down Under and now leads overall on countback from Sam Bennett – crash sees Simon Yates and Elia Viviani go down – Yates may not start stage 3 says team

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Tour Down Under: Stage 2

On a day of racing that always attracts huge crowds, there was plenty of action – as well as a few accidents, lost bark and ripped clothing – in the lead-up to a hotly contested uphill sprint in the tough finish in Stirling. The Novatech Stage 2 of the 22nd Santos Tour Down Under ended with a familiar sight: Caleb Ewan across the line in first place after a finely timed, fast, strong sprint.

Amongst the crowd at the finish was Ewan’s wife, Ryann, and his young daughter who were glowing after the 25-year-old collected his eighth TDU stage win. Ewan now leads the race for overall honours but even his team know he won’t have a chance to win the title in 2020, even though he is clearly in stomping good sprint form. The aim was stage wins; he has one now, and there’s reason to be satisfied.

There was also a sense of relief for Ewan and his team as he and the others from Lotto Soudal didn’t appear to have been caught in a crash only 1.4 kilometres from the finish that claimed numerous victims including high-profile riders like Simon Yates (with a “nasty knock to his knee”, according to Mitchelton-SCOTT sporting manager, Matt White), as well as Elia Viviani (Cofidis Solutions Credits), Ben Hermans of the Israel Start-Up Nation team. Hermans sustained a collarbone fracture and is out of the race.

There’ll be other wounded riders because of the accident that happened near the centre of a rather narrow road, and in the middle of a tightly packed peloton, and the medical report of Novatech Stage 2 will be read with interest.

Elia Viviani

Caleb Ewan Super Happy
“I’m super happy with that win,” said the new race leader, Ewan, who now leads Sam Bennett on GC (although the two stage winners share the same time and only a count-back on stage placings puts the Australian ahead in the rankings). Last year’s TDU champion, Daryl Impey, was second on the stage and he’s now ranked third on GC, one second behind Ewan and Bennett. The South African champion was well positioned throughout the stage and his bid for a third successive Santos Tour Down Under title is still on track but it has suffered a setback because of the injuries sustained by Yates.

“The boys did an absolutely perfect job today,” said Ewan. “They did everything I asked for and I got delivered to the line in a perfect position. When you take a win like that, you really can’t do it on your own. I said to them yesterday, ‘If I’m going to win today’s stage, it’s a tough one so I need all the help I can get…’ And they really helped me all day and kept me in a good position which meant I could avoid the mess. And that helped me in the end because I had good legs for the sprint.”

After the podium he acknowledged the difficulty of the Stirling stage which features 2,357 metres of climbing. “We always know it’s going to be a tough day and it’s one of those days that can go either way,” explained Ewan. “It can be a sprinter like me getting to the finish and winning, or it can be guys like Daryl [Impey]. Today was quite mixed: it was Daryl second and [Nathan] Haas third. It’s a pretty mixed podium. Those guys are a bit punchier and I’m a sprinter, so it’s one of those exciting kind of stages for cycling because it’s really hard to pick a winner before the start.”

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Nathan Haas has a new team and a new approach to his racing. Of course, he would have liked it if he earned his maiden TDU stage win but third place in Stirling is a solid consolation. Still, his thoughts after the race weren’t on his result, rather the condition of his team leader at Cofidis Solutions Credits, Elia Viviani. With the European champion having his wounds tended to in the van behind Haas, the Australian explained his emotions after a frantic day of racing.

“I’m feeling really terrible for Elia right now,” said Haas. “We were here for him today. He’s super hungry and this is a disappointment, but I’m sure a guy like him knows how to come back from this.”

Haas then spoke of his own result: “In terms of my third today, the bigger thing for me – as I don’t really care about the position – is that I’m just finally feeling my mojo again after what was easily the hardest year of my career/life last year.” He summed up the stage with a review of his new approach to racing. “I’ve said this before, but when people believe in you, you start to believe again in yourself. I’m hoping I can start to repay the faith that Cofidis Solutions Credits has put him me”.

“I was in front of it,” concluded Haas, when asked about the crash. “A big wave just came from the left. I even squeezed me out a lot. I had to slam on my brakes, and I could hear the crash happen. I’m told that it wasn’t actually on my wheel, it was a few wheels back. But it was a big, loud bang and I hate to hear that in cycling.”

Daryl Impey (2nd): “Going into the final with those sprinters I thought it was going to be quite tricky to get bonus seconds today. We gambled not to take any sprint bonuses and put everything on the finish line today because it’s a sprint that suits me. We walked away with six seconds and to come second out of that group there, that’s a pleasing result, especially after all of the hard work the guys did at the end there.”

“I have nine seconds now, it’s a nice gap over some of the climbers but there’s still a lot of guys in the bike race. There’s a lot more guys in form here this year, but I’d rather have nine seconds in my pocket than none. Tomorrow is going to be a difficult day, it’s a day you can lose more than nine seconds so it’s about going to the line and limiting the loss.”

Matt White (Impey and Simon Yates DS): “Today was a day we had to get bonuses because this is a stage that Daryl has always performed well on, and if we’d come up short today it would have made it quite hard. But six valuable seconds takes it to nine in total, and it was a very successful day for Daryl. We will have to see the lay of the land tonight with Simon. Our priority is his health and his knee. He may or may not be able to start tomorrow, but we’ll just have to adjust our plans according. Regardless, Daryl has to get up Paracombe as fast as he can tomorrow and nothing changes there.”

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Rohan Dennis (Ineos): “We had to use a fair bit of energy to come back. It was one of those points when it’s fast and it’s harder to take time on the peloton. It was all about biding our time and making the right moves when it was a bit slower on the kickers. Luckily we got on just before the climb and my legs were still good. I stayed safe thankfully. A couple of guys got caught up in the crash and we’ll see how tomorrow goes.

“I still think Richie (Porte) is the guy to beat tomorrow. The last time we went up (to Paracombe) he won by around 20secs or so and that was going the fast way. It’s a little bit more grippy on this side and it really is going to suit the power to weight – the little guys. It’s going to be hard to beat him but the race isn’t over at the end of tomorrow, there’s plenty of days to get back up.”

Chris Lawless (Ineos): “It’s just one of those things – a touch a wheels and a few people went down. There were a lot of people really trying going up to the finish with around a kilometre to go. Everyone is hurting at that point and quite a few people have got their heads down. I’m riding back to the hotel now so I should be fine to continue.”

Stage 2 Result
1. Caleb Ewan Lotto – Soudal 03:27:31
2. Daryl Impey Mitchelton – Scott
3. Nathan Haas Cofidis
4. Jasper Philipsen UAE Team Emirates
5. Fabio Felline Astana Pro Team
6. Andrea Vendrame AG2R La Mondiale
7. Timo Roosen Team Jumbo – Visma
8. Luis León Sánchez Astana Pro Team
9. Diego Ulissi UAE Team Emirates
10. George Bennett Team Jumbo – Visma

13. Sam Bennett Deceuninck – Quick Step
46. Gabriel Cullaigh Movistar Team
49. Richie Porte Trek – Segafredo
50. Rohan Dennis Team Ineos
61. Matthew Holmes Lotto – Soudal
66. Romain Bardet AG2R La Mondiale
74. André Greipel Israel Start-Up Nation
92. Christopher Lawless Team Ineos
93. Jonathan Dibben Lotto – Soudal
94. Owain Doull Team Ineos
104. Ian Stannard Team Ineos
110. Elia Viviani Cofidis
113. Simon Yates Mitchelton – Scott
114. Jack Bauer Mitchelton – Scott
115. Luke Rowe Team Ineos
119. Thomas Scully EF Pro Cycling
125. Alex Dowsett Israel Start-Up Nation
136. Mads Pedersen Trek – Segafredo

1. Caleb Ewan Lotto – Soudal 06:56:15
2. Sam Bennett Deceuninck – Quick Step @ 00
3. Daryl Impey Mitchelton – Scott @ 01

20. Gabriel Cullaigh Movistar Team @ 10
41. Richie Porte Trek – Segafredo @ 10
59. Elia Viviani Cofidis @ 10
66. Rohan Dennis Team Ineos @ 10
73. Matthew Holmes Lotto – Soudal @ 10
77. Simon Yates Mitchelton – Scott @ 10
91. Romain Bardet AG2R La Mondiale @ 02:33
103. Owain Doull Team Ineos @ 04:52
113. Jonathan Dibben Lotto – Soudal @ 06:14
114. Jack Bauer Mitchelton – Scott @ 06:18
120. Ian Stannard Team Ineos @ 06:38
127. Thomas Scully EF Pro Cycling @ 07:41
130. Alex Dowsett Israel Start-Up Nation @ 08:15
132. Luke Rowe Team Ineos @ 08:50

Full Result Here



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