Caleb Ewan has won stage 2 of the Santos Tour Down Under, with George Bennett of Jumbo-Visma rising up the general classification into the top ten with a strong finish in Stirling.
Stage 2 of the Santos Tour Down Under was expected to suit the punchier sprinters with a 135.8km trek from Woodside to Stirling featuring a tricky ascent to the line. The break of the day featured the return of CCC Team’s Joey Rosskopf, determined to go after the KOM jersey. He took off in the company of UniSA’s Sam Jenner, Israel Start-Up Nation’s Omer Goldstein and Astana’s Laurens De Vreese. The break never gained a lead of much more than 3 minutes, but it had its uses, particularly for the American.
The move for Rosskopf proved a good one as he took the KOM points at both Quarry Road climbs, but the move was doomed shortly after entering the finishing circuit for the first time. They lasted through the first intermediate sprint – picked up by Goldstein – but an attack from De Vreese spelled the end of the attack. De Vreese went off solo and lasted until 25km to go where the peloton made the catch.
A couple of nasty crashes brought down a number of riders before the final finishing circuit, and a mechanical for Rohan Dennis of Team Ineos also made matters a little hairy but otherwise things looked to be setting up nicely for a big bunch sprint finish with EF Pro Cycling, Jumbo-Visma, Israel Start-Up Nation all contending for the front of the bunch with less than 15km to go. Lotto Soudal were also very prominent on the front and lining up Caleb Ewan well for an assault on the sprint that could make amends for yesterday’s disappointment.
With 1.4km to go, however, a number of riders were brought down including Richie Porte of Trek-Segafredo, Simon Yates of Mitchelton-SCOTT and Elia Viviani of Cofidis. Andre Greipel was also brought down in the mess and unable to contest the sprint as Mitchelton-SCOTT powered onwards to try and line up Daryl Impey.
George Bennett of Jumbo-Visma was well set up for a strong finish to the stage as the sprinters remaining took control ahead of him. In the end Cameron Meyer led out the sprint with Sam Bennett looking comfortable on the wheel of Michael Mørkøv. But the ochre jersey had run out of gas and instead it was Caleb Ewan, putting in a tremendous turn of speed, who took the win and with it the overall lead.
Daryl Impey took second place with Cofidis’ Nathan Haas third. An impressive finish from George Bennett saw him take 10th place at the finish and climb to 10th on GC. He will have a great opportunity to establish himself as a serious contender in tomorrow’s third stage to Paracombe that culminates with a sharp 1.2km climb to the finish.