Peter Sagan has his first win of this year’s Santos Tour Down Under. The BORA-Hansgrohe 3-time world champion got the better of Luis Leon Sanchez of Astana and Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Daryl Impey. 5th place for Patrick Bevin of CCC Team was good enough to secure another day in the ochre leader’s jersey.
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146.2km from Lobethal to Uraidla would be the first real test of the GC riders’ mettle; although by no means was it expected to be decisive. The course was incessantly undulating throughout as the riders tackled a short 14.5km circuit. Unlike other stages there was no neutral section to today’s race with the first intermediate sprint coming just 4.5km into the race. Elia Viviani of Deceuninck-QuickStep quickly established his intent by taking the first intermediate sprint points and then going on the attack in a breakaway group of seven riders.
Along with Viviani the break consisted of Nicholas Dlamini of Dimension Data, Michael Potter of UniSA-Australia, James Whelan of EF Education First, Leo Vincent of Groupama-FDJ, Nico Denz of AG2R La Mondiale and Manuele Boaro of Astana. Together they built a lead of around 2 minutes, carrying Viviani to the second intermediate sprint with no trouble at all. With 103km to go the gap was up to 3.15mins but with CCC Team on the defensive for Patrick Bevin that gap didn’t get too much greater for the leaders, dropping to 2 minutes with 76km remaining.
Relive Bevin’s brilliant stage 2 win:
The CCC Team for Patrick Bevin were a constant up the front of the race, never flinching from their default responsibility to chase down the break and bridging to within a minute with 61km remaining; before allowing the break to once again drift back to a little over a minute and a half.
Viviani was the first of the breakaway to drop back into the fold in the peloton as the race approached 50km to go. In the pack CCC Team were joined by Trek-Segafredo who sat just off the front of the pack; with Team Sky emerging slightly towards the front with 46km remaining. It looked like at times the peloton was beginning to fragment only to come back together again a few times. Bevin and co kept the pace reasonably swift and it began to show for some of the pure sprinters like Caleb Ewan, Daniel McLay and Viviani; who was caught and then dropped from the peloton.
The time gap to the breakaway dropped to 36 seconds with 36km to go and it appeared inevitable that the catch would be made sooner rather than later. The peloton was close enough that riders began to decide to jump across the gap and join the aggression at the front; Alberto Bettiol of EF Education First being one of them to make a move and bridge across to teammate James Whelan who was the last man standing in the break.
With 25km to go the duo had a gap and at 20km the lead for the pair had climbed to a minute. Team Sky took the initiative on the front to bring back Bettiol who had dropped his teammate Whelan; but as Whelan was caught and Sky led the way Patrick Bevin appeared just a little bit isolated at the head of the race. Mitchelton-SCOTT also joined the assembly at the head of the bunch, and with 14km to go and just one lap remaining of the race Bettiol had 15 seconds; but the Italian was brought to a virtual standstill with 13.5km remaining and the catch was quickly made.
As Mitchelton-SCOTT continued to press on towards the line Patrick Bevin continued to sit at the front of the race, lost for teammates but not for confidence as he sat on the wheel of Daryl Impey. 10km to go saw EF Education First and Jumbo-Visma also marshal themselves towards the front; with George Bennett making his way to the front of the peloton and so too Richie Porte.
Lachlan Morton of EF Education First led the way up the climb with 7km to go as the contenders swarmed around him. Impey, Porte, Bevin, Bennett were all there and looking comfortable for now as the peloton were stretched quite thin.
Suddenly with 3.2km to go Team Sky’s Kenny Elissonde made a big attack on one of the uphill ramps to try and upset the day for the sprinters. That move triggered a response from Robert Gesink of Jumbo-Visma but was surprisingly not getting a big reaction from the peloton initially. Gesink looked strong but Elissonde was stronger and the Dutch rider couldn’t quite get across.
1km later though it was all change as Michael Woods of EF Education First launched from the bunch to catch the Frenchman and bring Lukas Postlberger of BORA-Hansgrohe along with him until the Austrian sat up; with Woods proving too strong. Woods hadn’t quite managed to snap Dries Devenyns of Deceuninck-QuickStep who brought the peloton across; all the while Bevin managed to keep pace with the front runners.
With 1km to go Mitchelton-SCOTT had the lead of the peloton with Daryl Impey sitting second wheel. Peter Sagan was perfectly positioned with Impey ahead of him and Luis Leon Sanchez behind him. Impey had gone too soon in the sprint and Sagan came through with about 100m remaining. Sanchez closed in on Sagan but the Slovakian had just shy of a wheel length in hand on the Spaniard and that was enough to secure the stage win. Impey took third and Danny van Poppel fourth; with Patrick Bevin completing the top 5 and maintaining his overall lead but by just a solitary second to Sagan.
George Bennett crossed the line 16th to climb into the top ten on GC; Bennett still sits 15 seconds adrift in 10th place with Sagan and Sanchez second and third.