Another stage, another win for a young Australian, this time it was Tinkoff’s Jay McCarthy. McCarthy took out Stage 2 of the Santos Tour Down Under by holding off Diego Ulissi (Lampre Merida) in a tight finish in the hills town of Stirling.
A crash with a kilometre to go thinned out the field and McCarthy capitalised, launching his attack early and of those left standing only Ulissi appeared willing to go with him. The two ride side by side as they fought for the win but McCarthy proved too strong to take out his biggest career win to date.
When asked whether the plan was to go for the win today, McCarthy said “I’ve done this stage for a few years now so we certainly had a plan,” and added “I was in very good shape and before the start today I was hoping to be given a chance.
“The team supported me fully and I’m also given a chance to go for GC this week as well,” he said. “It’s great to come out and get the victory today but the week is not finished. I hope to recover for Corkscrew tomorrow
Race favourite Rohan Dennis (BMC) finished the stage 3rd and collected a handy time bonus of four seconds, though his main rival Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEDGE) earnt himself a five second time bonus by winning the first intermediate sprint and finishing second in the other sprint, giving Gerrans a one second advantage over Dennis in the General Classification in third and fourth spots respectively.
Dennis managed to avoid the crash just before the finish, but Gerrans wasn’t so lucky. Dennis admitted the crash had helped his chances and stated “the plan was to stay out of trouble and be up there in the front, and if there was an opportunity for the sprint, go for it”. “I was one of the first to get around the crash, but if that crash didn’t happen, I don’t think I would have been third.
“I hope the crash doesn’t hinder Gerrans, because no one wants to win like that,” said Dennis.
McCarthy now leads the General Classification and will assume control of the Ochre Jersey tomorrow, with Ulissi four seconds back in 2nd and Gerrans a further second behind.
Caleb Ewan (Orica GreenEDGE) was unable to defend the Ochre Jersey but did manage to finish 2nd and 3rd in the intermediate sprints to hold on to the lead in the Sprinters Classification.
Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff) won the day’s King of the Mountain climb up Range View Road, with the 10 points gained giving him control of the KOM polka dot jersey with his time being better than Sean Lake (UniSA) who is also on 10 points.
Tomorrow’s stage travels 132kms from seaside Glenelg to Campbelltown and includes the iconic climb up the Corkscrew, a nasty 2.4km climb at an average gradient of 9%. It’s always packed with fans cheering on the riders and with a short downhill ride to the finish once the riders reach the summit it is likely to impact the overall standings.