Ulissi Sprints to Victory in Stage 2 of Tour Down Under 2014
Italian Diego Ulissi of the Lampre-Merida team stole the show in Stirling today holding off Australians Simon Gerrans (Team GreenEDGE) and Cadel Evans (Team BMC Racing) who crossed the finish line behind Ulissi in stage 2 of the 2014 Santos Tour Down Under.
attack saw yesterday's Europcar Most Competitive rider Will Clarke of Team Drapac break clear with UniSA-Australia's Campbell Flakemore and Dutchman Boy Van Poppel of Trek Factory Racing.
"It’s three years in a row that I break away on the way to Stirling. Unfortunately, the last two haven’t been as successful as two years ago when I stayed away and won," Clarke explained after crossing the finish line in 124th position. He was once again crowned Europcar Most Competitive Rider.
The trio shared the spoils of both Adam Internet Sprint and both Skoda King of the Mountain primes contested in the first 85 kilometers.
At One Tree Hill, 26 kilometers into today's stage, Van Poppel scored top points in the Adam Internet sprint ahead of Flakemore and Clarke. But when the trio contested the Skoda King of the Mountain climb at Golden Grove it was Clarke who crested the hill ahead of Flakemore and Van Poppel. Mountain classification leader, Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) led the peloton over a couple of minutes later to protect his jersey.
The second climb of the day was at Checker Hill at the 56 kilometer point and the placings were a repeat of the previous as Clarke lead Flakemore and Van Poppel over the top before Hansen grabbed fourth place points.
The second Adam Internet intermediate sprint was at Blahannah (85 kilometer) where Clarke held off Van Poppel and Flakemore was third.
Hopes the trio might fight for the stage win were washed away like rain on a hot summer day when they were reeled in by the peloton as they rode through Stirling to start the final 20 kilometer circuit to the finish.
"In the next day or two, I’ll take it easy," said Clarke. "I feel a bit tired so I’ll back off for another attack a bit later in the race."
Meantime Hansen's efforts ensured he held onto the Skoda King of the Mountain lead, although now sharing the lead with Clarke who also has 20 points.
"I’ve seen the possibility to take two points for the KOM without spending much energy as the fourth place atop the hill was still up for grabs," Hansen explained.
Hansen's teammate, star sprinter André Greipel of Germany put in a super effort to fight his way back to the lead group after a front wheel change the closing kilometers. He placed 19th, the last rider in the lead group awarded the same time as the winner, which meant he only slipped down one place overall to third where he sits 11 seconds off the overall lead.
"I was trying to help André (Greipel) today," continued Hansen. "It was always the plan to race for him, even after he had a flat tire. He and I had a little argument with one kilometer to go. He wanted me to go for myself but I kept supporting him."
Australian David Tanner (Belkin) fractured his right collarbone in a crash during yesterday's stage 1 and had surgery overnight to repair it. X-rays recorded this morning confirmed a broken scaphoid for Spanish climber