Stage 2 to Stirling had the potential to open up the overall classification at the Tour Down Under but in the end the finish came down to a reduced bunch sprint with Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) winning ahead of his teammate Daryl Impey and Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe).
For the defending champion Richie Porte (BMC), it was a relatively calm day in the saddle and despite the brutally hot conditions, and the frantic finale, the Australian was relatively happy with the stage.
“The aim was to try and keep out of trouble but in the end Simon Gerrans and Danilo Wyss really sacrificed and did a fantastic job for me. There was a headwind and it was nice to see Caleb win. I’m not really surprised though, he was climbing well at the nationals so it’s good to see,” Porte told Cyclingnews.
The day started out in a relatively calm fashion with a small break going clear and the sprinters’ teams marshalling the main field. BMC, despite their stature as the race favourites, were able to sit back as others looked to bring the fight to them.
Porte can now look forward to the stage 5 to Willunga Hill to mount his attack for a second consecutive overall victory. While there are intermediate stages where bonus seconds can be shipped, the Australian has only lost four seconds to Impey, and two to McCarthy and three to Nathan Haas.
“It was a tricky little course but as they say it’s another day closer to the weekend,” Porte said.
When asked if stage 2 had been a missed opportunity for his rivals, Porte replied: “Well perhaps, but with Caleb Ewan in the finish up there it’s hard to beat him, he’s one of the fastest sprinters in the world.”
The fact that it was Ewan and not McCarthy or Impey taking the maximum of bonus seconds on offer will no doubt be celebrated in the BMC camp, and with Willunga to come Porte is moving a step closer to his favoured terrain.
“I think last year was tailor-made for me, it’s a different race but this year we’ve got guys that can go for the intermediates and mop up time there too. If it comes down to Willunga I’m happy with that.”
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