Tour Down Under 2014 Stage 2
Prospect to Stirling 150km
With the race leadership under the control of the home team, Orica-Greenedge, and on the back of their leader, Simon Gerrans, the peloton knew what to expect as they rolled out of Prospect toward Stirling for a rolling 150km (93mi) day finishing on a long uphill drag.
Cannondale Pro Cycling's Elia Viviani was looking forward to this finish. It doesn't perfectly suit his characteristics, but his form is good. With a young team supporting him everything was going to have to go right for him to be in position to take out the sprint.
Gerrans is a punchy rider who sprints well uphill. And with time bonuses for finishing in the top three, his team was keen to deliver him to the final kilometer rested. So everyone knew that Orica would ride tempo to keep things close no matter what got away and then ramp up the pace in the final kilometer.
Trying to have two cards to play, Cannondale's Alberto Bettiol got in to the first move, which tried escaping the pack at kilometer zero. As that was brought back, teammate Cameron Wurf also tried an exploratory move. It was for naught, and after five kilometers (3.1mi), Will Clarke of Drapac, Campbell Flakemore of Uni SA, and Boy Van Poppel of Trek formed the day's break.
Behind, Orica made sure the gap never amounted to more than a few minutes, and when the leaders hit the beginning of two 21km (13.1mi) finishing circuits, it was clear the escape was doomed, though it took 21km for the move to be finished off.
While several teams took turns ramping up the pace, the pack was still tightly bunched heading into the final uphill 7km (4.3mi). Tinkoff-Saxo led the group until Sky's Ian Stannard threw in a big attack with two kilometers (1.2mi) remaining. But he was the set-up for teammate Richie Porte to attack with one kilometer (.62mi) left. He, in turn, was passed by Orica setting up Gerrans. BMC's Cadel Evans started sprinting. And then Gerrans got jumped by Lampre-Merida's Diego Ulissi who passed both Aussies, and took the victory with Gerrans in second and Evans in third.
The victory by Ulissi closed his gap on Gerrans, with the young Italian only seven seconds behind Gerrans and Lotto Belisol's Andre Greipel in third at eleven seconds. Gerrans might have the lead, but with these tiny gaps, the top spots can get reshuffled quickly.
Viviani, who couldn't hold the pace on the run-in to the finish, wasn't put off by losing places before the end. "On paper was an interesting stage but not just for sprinters. The final short climbs seemed perfect for me. I tried my best to keep the position but it was too hard for me to follow those riders. Anyway, I look forward to have new chances during next days"
Stage three is 145km (90.1mi) from Norwood to Campbelltown. It's another rolling stage, but the big feature is Corkscrew Hill, about 5km (3.1mi) in length that begins with 10km (6.2mi) remaining. While the finish is a downhill run from the top of Corkscrew, it's sufficiently tricky that riders will have a hard time clawing back seconds lost going up. This is a stage that could change the general classification leader board. A climber like Cannondale's George Bennett could take advantage of his prowess on the steeps to forge a stage win.
Tour Down Under 2014
Stage 2 Prospect to Stirling 150km
1. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 3:02:14
2. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge same time
3. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC same time
4. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana same time
5. Robert Gesink (NED) Belkin same time
Stage Results Cannondale Pro Cycling
37. Cameron Wurf (Aus) same time
47. Elia Viviani (Ita) same time
59. Matej Mohoric (Slo) same time
68. Guillaume Boivin (Can) same time
87. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) same time
98. Matthias Krizek (Aut) 0:02:45
103.George Bennett (NZl) 0:03:20
1. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 7:12:31
2. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:00:07
3. Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol 0:00:11
4. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC 0:00:13
5. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana 0:00:17
General Classification Cannondale Pro Cycling
35. Cameron Wurf (Aus) 0:00:21
69. Elia Viviani (Ita) 0:02:38
70. Matejv Mohoric (Slo) same time
77. Guillaume Boivin (Can) same time
100. George Bennett (NZl) 0:04:16
104. Matthias Krizek (Aut) 0:06:59
108. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) 0:08:25