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Friday, January 20, 2023

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Tour Down Under stage 2 reports

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner and new GC leader Dennis Rohan's Team Jumbo-Visma:

Rohan Dennis has won the second stage of the Tour Down Under. In a tricky final, the Australian emerged as the strongest of a leading group of five. The leader of Team Jumbo-Visma is also the new leader in the general classification.

Rohan Dennis has a good day in Australia. Sirotti photo.

With 2,400 altimeters, the stage to Victor Harbor featured a profile that was anything but simple. Nervousness soon took over in the peloton as it crumbled with a hundred kilometres to go. Although there was a subsequent regrouping, the entertaining final had already started.

On Nettle Hill, the key point of the day, several riders could no longer contain their attacking spirit. A handful of elite cyclists, including Jay Vine, Simon Yates, Jai Hindley, Mauro Schmid, and Dennis, gradually rode further away from the now-reduced peloton. The five riders kept up a steady pace and eventually competed for victory. Hindley appeared to have the best chance of winning thanks to a smart attack, but Dennis defeated his compatriot with an impressive display of power by creating an unbridgeable gap. The 32-year-old Australian subsequently secured the first victory of the 2023 cycling season for himself and his team, Team Jumbo-Visma.

After his victory, the stage winner looked back on his battle plan. "To lose Robert Gesink yesterday was obviously a big loss, but the guys rallied around me and did a brilliant job today one man down. I couldn’t be happier with how the guys raced for me. I nevertheless had to fight for this win. I picked up the pace on the final ascent to catch up to Yates and Vine, who had already fled. I didn't expect a breakaway attempt on that climb would go to the line, so I'm glad I was a part of that. In hindsight, it turns out I gambled well there. The run-in was quite tricky. With that, it was hard as a team to take control. I seized the opportunity and jumped to the head of the race. The cooperation in the group went well", Dennis looked back with satisfaction.

The Australian cyclist completed his first competitive kilometres at the WorldTour level during the Tour Down Under when he was a teenager. "For Australians this is a unique race. I was able to enter the professional peloton thanks to this race. I consequently have a lot to give back in some way to this race. It feels good to start in the leader's jersey tomorrow. I'm hoping I can defend it, but let's see what happens", the 2015 overall winner in 2015 concluded.

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Here's the report from 2nd-place Jay Vine's UAE Team Emirates:

Jay Vine continued to show his strong early season form with 2nd place on Stage 2 of the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia.

Vine put in a powerful attack on Nettle Hill which crested at 20km taking with him a strong five-rider group including Rohan Dennis (Jumbo-Visma) who would go on to take the stage and leaders jersey.

The group pushed on to the line with Vine driving the break clear from the chasing pack on the downhill to the line on the day from Brighton to Victor Harbour (154km).

Dennis jumped clear in final 500m with Vine going after him and limiting his losses to his rival to 2 seconds.

Jay Vine finishes just a bit behind Rohan Dennis and ahead of Mauro Schmid. Sirotti photo

Tomorrow Vine will also pull on the KOM jersey as leader of that classification on the road from Norwood to Cambelltown (116km)

Vine: “We saw that climb in the briefing last night and knew that if we had the right group over the top that it had a chance to go to the line. We worked really cohesively until the finish and had mutual benefit and giving our all.

"It’s pretty cool to go in with a team plan to make the race like we did. There’s still 3 days to go and the harder climbs are still to come so I’m excited for it.”

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Third-place Mauro Schmid's Team Soudal Quick-Step posted this Down Under report:

Mauro Schmid took third on an eventful stage 2, which travelled from Brighton to Victor Harbor over a distance of 154.8 kilometers. After a slow start, the pace picked up once the peloton entered a section exposed to the crosswinds, where the bunch was split into three groups. Mauro Schmid and Jannik Steimle found themselves around 50 seconds adrift, which meant they had to put in a serious effort together with the other riders in the second group in order to reduce the gap, but after a wild chase they joined the leaders with around 100 kilometers to go.

The pace relented, allowing one rider to break clear and establish a one-minute advantage, but even that action turned out to be a short-lived one, as the field – targeting a mass gallop in Victor Harbour – ramped up the speed again and made the catch inside the final hour of racing. The nervousness was palpable in the run in to Nettle Hill, a climb averaging 6.8%, and for good reason, as the big attacks came once the road went up.

Mauro Schmid was attentive and quickly joined what proved to be the decisive move of the stage, together with four other riders opening up a 20-second gap by the time they hit the descent. The peloton tried to organize the chase behind, but the leaders worked well together and extended their buffer to 40 seconds inside three kilometers to go.

The peloton races across Southern Australia. Sirotti photo

At that point, it became clear they would fight for the win, which after a couple of skirmishes went to Rohan Dennis (Jumbo-Visma) after a late attack some 300 meters from the finish. Victorious at the Belgium Tour in his first season with the Wolfpack, Mauro crossed the line in third place, a well-deserved result after a great effort, that elevated him to fourth on the GC, just one second off the podium.

“I messed it up a bit in the middle of the stage when the bunch got split in the crosswinds. I just missed it. Then I had to chase and make a big effort to come back. I didn’t really feel fresh anymore after that, but I think everybody was suffering. On the last climb, Jannik brought me in a really good position and I entered it in the front. When the attacks came, I just tried to follow, as the feeling I had was good.”

“On paper, I knew that I was the fastest of the group in a sprint, but when everyone is on the limit after riding full gas, it’s a different sprint. My plan was to go first, but then a rider attacked and I had to chase. When Dennis went, I was on his wheel but lost a few meters out of the corner and I couldn’t close it anymore. On the other hand, a podium so early in the season makes me happy, because I wasn’t expecting to be on this level so early. Now the plan is to go for a good general classification here”, Mauro explained after the stage.

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And here's the report from 5th place Jai Hindley's Team Bora-hansgrohe:

BORA - hansgrohe went into the race's longest stage without Jordi Meeus, with the Belgian having to withdraw from the race following his crash yesterday. After 50 kilometres, the peloton split in the winds, with calm then returning to the field. On the climb to Nettle Hill shortly before the finish, Giovanni Aleotti and Jai Hindley tried to attack and, in the end, the Australian managed to go clear from the field in a group of five. With one kilometre remaining, Jai attacked but was caught by his companions shortly before the finish and, with Rohan Dennis going on to take the win, he ultimately crossed the finish in fifth place.

Jai Hindley signs in before the start of stage two. Sirotti photo

"It was quite a stressful day, particularly with the crosswinds, which created a lot of stress. It was tricky coming into the final climb. We had Giovanni following the initial move, and then I made the move with Rohan. In the end, I was in a group of five with Dennis, Schmidt, Vine and Yates. We were pretty committed to staying clear of the chasing group. I went at the chicane section and got a bit of a gap, but ultimately I didn't have the legs to make it to the line and eventually the other guys passed me in the finale." - Jai Hindley

"After losing our sprinter yesterday, we had to go all out on the attack today and our goal was to reach the steep climb just before the finish in a good position. After that, Giovanni and Jai were to try their luck in the escape. And I have to say, that worked out very well. Giovanni put in a very good performance. Jai, who was able to go clear with a top-class five-man leading group, then tried again in the finale to take the win against some strong competition. Unfortunately, we were only partially rewarded for our work. Jai finished fifth but was able to improve a little in the general classification. But we saw a very strong performance from the guys and I think, particularly in the overall standings, we can expect a lot from Jai tomorrow or even on Sunday." - Christian Pömer, Sports Director

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