Spaniard Juan Jose Lobato del Valle of Movistar was simply too strong for his rivals when it mattered most, sprinting his way to victory on the second stage of the 2015 Santos Tour Down Under. Daryl Imprey (Orica-GreenEDGE) was second with Lobato’s Movistar teammate Gorka Izaguirre holding on for third.
Natahn Haas (Cannondale-Garmin) tried his luck with a cheeky sprint 300 metres from home that didn’t pay off and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) tried in vain to outsprint Lobato but no one could match the power of Lobato, who was also impressive when finishing 2nd to Marcel Kittel in the People’s Choice Classic on Sunday.
Lobato was deservedly proud of his efforts on the stage and said “It’s a victory on a different type of terrain for me. I’m coming here in good form, but thanks to God, I was able to delivery victory for the team”.
The 151 kilometre stage took riders from Unley to Stirling through the undulating Adelaide Hills and despite cooler than usual conditions for this time of year, it was a testing stage for riders with many dropped by the time the riders reached the King of the Mountain in Basket Range.
The KOM points were taken by Thomas De Gendt of Lotto-Soudal, who was part of a strong three-man breakaway along with Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Campbell Flakemore (BMC Racing). Unfortunately for Flakemore, his day would get a lot worse, breaking his collarbone riding home from the Stage finish and ending his Tour.
With three big name riders in the break, the peloton was in no mood to let a break succeed two days in a row and the escapees were reeled in with 30 kilometres left in the stage.
Local boy Jack Bobridge (Uni SA) retained the Ochre jersey and overall lead in the General Classification, but his gap is now just 3 seconds of Lobato, with Lieuwe Westra (Astana) third, 4 seconds behind Bobridge. Bobridge admitted that holding the lead has changed the focus of the race for his team, stating that “I came here to look after the young guys but now I’m in the jersey I’m 100% focused on defending this ochre jersey. I’ll go for the hour record next week but for now it’s all for this jersey”
Today’s win has given Lobato 24 points and the lead in the Sprint Classification, with Bobridge and Impey tied for second with 20 points.
Young Italian rider Niccolo Bonifazio (Lampre) finished 6th in the stage and it was enough to give him the overall lead in the Young Riders Classification.
The Tour Down Under continues tomorrow with Stage 3 taking the riders on a 143 kilometre journey from Norwood to Paracombe that includes the nasty Category 1 climb up Torrens Hill.
Top 10 Stage 2:
1 Juan Jose LOBATO DEL VALLE – Movistar 3:42:24
2 Daryl IMPEY – Orica-GreenEDGE 00”
3 Gorka IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI – Movistar 00”
4 Tom DUMOULIN – Team Giant-Alpecin 00”
5 Cadel EVANS – BMC Racing – 00”
6 Luis Leon SANCHEZ GIL – Astana – 00”
7 Richie PORTE – Team Sky – 00”
8 Niccolo BONIFAZIO – Lampre-Merida – 00”
9 Nathan HAAS – Cannondale-Garmin – 00”
10 Samuel Dumoulin – AG2R-La Mondiale – 00”
Top 10 General Classification:
1 Jack BOBRIDGE – Uni SA – 6:41:55
2 Juan Jose LOBATO DEL VALLE – Movistar 3”
3 Lieuwe WESTRA – Astana – 4”
4 Daryl IMPEY – Orica-GreenEDGE – 7”
5 Gorka IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI – Movistar – 9”
6 Niccolo BONIFAZIO – Lampre-Merida – 13”
7 Gianni MEERSMAN – Ettix-Quick Step – 13”
8 Samuel DUMOULIN – AG2R-La Mondiale – 13”
9 Nathan HAAS – Cannondale-Garmin – 13”
10 Cadel EVANS – BMC Racing – 13”