Diego Ulissi beat Simon Gerrans to claim stage 2 of the 2014 Santos Tour Down Under in Stirling, Australia today.
Ulissi proved to be the stronger of the two – as a sprint for the finish unfolded during the final uphill section of today’s 150 kilometer race.
Cadel Evans finished third.
“I’ve never believed in my chances to win this stage because I had the impression that Simon Gerrans was by far the strongest,” said Ulissi. “I thought he’d be unbeatable, but I managed to beat him thanks to the help of the great team I have behind me. It has a lot to do with the serenity I found by winning a few races at the very end of last season; therefore, I could train for this one with no worries and prepare well for Milano-Sanremo.”
With 20 kilometers remaining, the day’s long breakaway group was eventually reeled in – with riders like Philip Deignan still attempting subsequent counter-attacks to no avail.
At the 16 kilometer mark, André Greipel suffered a puncture. However, the German rider managed to regain contact with the peloton before the 10 kilometer mark – albeit tired and out of contention.
As the peloton drew closer to the finish, Evans attempted to ride clear – but faded in advance of the finish.
“I went too early, and got swamped at the finish,” he said. “I hope to get it right in the next few days. I didn’t have the legs and timing to do it today. The team is being really good here. We’re still getting things going together. It’s our first race of the year.”
On the other hand, Ulissi timed his acceleration perfectly – with only Gerrans being able to stay within contact.
“I would have loved to win the stage again today,” said Gerrans. “It was close, but I can’t win them all. It didn’t surprise me to be sprinting against Diego Ulissi in such a finale like Stirling. He’s a classy rider. But I wasn’t expecting he’d pass me as fast as he did. He’s obviously a threat for the overall classification, but it’s a good result for me today as I have a bigger advantage over my other rivals with the time bonus of the second place.”
The Tour Down Under continues tomorrow – with a 145 kilometer from Norwood to Campbelltown – finishing with a 7.4km descent from Corkscrew Road. Gerrans said he expected the stage to have significant impact on the final general classification.
“My position on GC is just as good as I could have hoped for,” he said. “Tomorrow is going to be the most decisive stage with the Corkscrew climb so close to the finish.”
Santos Tour Down Under, Australia (WorldTour)
Stage 2: Prospect to Stirling:
1, Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) 150 kilometres in 3 hours 52 mins 14 secs 2, Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) 3, Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) 4, Francesco Gavazzi (Astana) 5, Robert Gesink (Belkin) 6, Richie Porte (Team Sky) 7, Ben Hermans (BMC Racing Team) 8, Fabio Felline (Trek Factory Racing) 9, Javier Moreno (Movistar) 10, Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) 11, Egor Silin (Katusha) 12, Anthony Roux (FDJ) 13, Steve Morabito (BMC Racing Team) 14, Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing Team) 15, Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) 16, Wesley Sulzberger (Drapac Pro Cycling) 17, Rory Sutherland (Tinkoff-Saxobank) 18, Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp) 19, Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) 20, Ruben Plaza (Movistar) 21, Simon Geschke (Giant-Shimano) 22, Lieuwe Westra (Astana) 23, Maxime Bouet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) 24, Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) 25, Luca Wackermann (Lampre-Merida)
1, Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) 7 hours 12 mins 31 secs 2, Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) at 7 secs 3, Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) at 11 secs 4, Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) at 13 secs 5, Steele von Hoff (Garmin-Sharp) 6, Simon Geschke (Giant-Shimano) at 16 secs 7, Francesco Gavazzi (Astana) at 17 secs 8, Robert Gesink (Belkin) 9, Maxime Bouet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) 10, Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) 11, Rafael Valls (Lampre-Merida) 12, Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) at 21 secs 13, Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing Team) 14, Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp) 15, Rory Sutherland (Tinkoff-Saxobank) 16, Richie Porte (Team Sky) 17, Ben Hermans (BMC Racing Team) 18, Ruben Plaza (Movistar) 19, Wesley Sulzberger (Drapac Pro Cycling) 20, Frank Schleck (Trek Factory Racing) 21, Steve Morabito (BMC Racing Team) 22, Carlos Verona (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) 23, Lieuwe Westra (Astana) 24, Darren Lapthorne (Drapac Pro Cycling) 25, Luca Wackermann (Lampre-Merida)
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