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Stage 2 sees the riders tackle one of the most underrated stages of this year's race. 148 kilometres from Lobethal to Stirling which includes four rounds up the Stirling climb, one of the key difficulties of the 2012 Tour Down Under.
Join us from 11 AM local time.
And we're underway for stage two of the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under.
First news of the day was the retirements of FDJ-BigMat rider Guesdon, and Lotto Belisol's Roelandts.
That was hardly unexpected - both are in Royal Adelaide hospital. Cyclingnews wishes them a swift recovery!
We've also had the first aggression. A break of two riders has formed with a third bridging.
The riders are Will Clarke (UniSA) and Martin Kohler (BMC). Third rider yet to be confirmed.
Kohler was in the break yesterday and picked up both sprints. He's sitting third on GC as a result. He's obviously feeling good. Slightly odd that he doesn't want to try and maintain his position in the bunch. It's going to be a hard run to Stirling.
Clarke was also active yesterday. He made a late attack but was pulled back in that now infamous finish in Clare.
Don't forget to stay tuned in today for our daily trivia question. You could win a brand new pair of Bont cycling shoes.
Yesterday's winner was none other than a New Zealander; Ryan Wills. Congratulations again to you Ryan!
BMC rider is in fact Manuel Quinziato. Well that makes a lot more sense. Kohler will no doubt be trying to hold his high GC position.
The advantage for the break of two is out to 3:35, could be a long day for these guys out front.
Once again had Jane Aubrey and Jean Francois Quenet at the stage start.
Let's go through what the riders think of the day ahead. (Which everyone should be pleased to know, is not quite as hot as yesterday)
Break of two has just passed Birdwood and are closing on the first prime at Mount Torrens. Worth considering that third place for the sprint is still on offer, and thus a 1 second time bonus. I wonder how seriously they'll contest it.
Simon Gerrans a potential winner today said:
"There could be some splits in the bunch. Hopefully if I'm going really well and can pick up some time bonuses out there. I'm feeling really good and recovered well after yesterday."
Just coming up on this sprint, 3 kilometres to go.
Still confusion on who the BMC rider is - race radio has read out different numbers several times. We'll get confirmation at the sprint.
Young rider's classification leader Rohan Dennis said that he was surprised at just how good he was feeling today:
"Honestly I expected to be sorer today that I am. Today I'll just be hiding in the bunch and try my best to recuperate. Really need to save energy for that last lap around Stirling."
Peloton about to come through the sprint.
Michael Matthews (Rabobank) picks up final bonus second. Small split in the bunch.
So a recap of the sprint:
1 - Kohler (BMC)
2 - Clarke (UniSA)
3 - Matthews (Rabobank)
This is the day that Matthews won the stage last year. Maybe Rabobank's man for today?
Alejandro Valverde said:
"I don’t exactly if I can perform as well as two years in Stirling and make the top 3 again. Yesterday, it was extremely hot, so it made it hard to tell if I’m in good shape or not. I’m racing the Santos Tour Down Under with no pressure. We’ll see how it goes."
Gap has reduced a little, down to 5:40.
Renshaw has gone back to the team car for a chat. Looks comfortable.
He's confident that today will end in a bunch kick.
Didn't specify whether it was going to be him or Matthews though. I guess we'll find out!
Lots of talk that today there will be a selection though. Much has been made of the extra lap around Stirling. It definetely makes it harder but how tired are the guys after yesterday's torture fest?
Gap out to 8:10 now, peloton really have their foot off the gas. They know it's going to be a long day out there.
We seem to be running on schedule today, no signs of the headwinds that riders dealt with yesterday.
Let's take a more in depth look at the course today.
If Willunga is the Queen stage, today can't be far off. It's a 148 kilometre slog from Lobethal to Stirling. As with yesterday just the two sprints and a single KOM which is coming up just before Lenswood.
The parcour all day is undulating - if you're not going up you're going down.
Combine that with the dead roads that riders got to know intimately yesterday, and you know it's going to be hard.
Riders come on the Stirling circuit after around 78 kilometres of riding. It's three and a half laps, and four times up the Stirling climb.
Cameron Meyer previewed the stage again for us today:
"If it's a really hot day, Stirling is always really hard. So I think this is going to be quite a crucial stage. If some of the teams that are coming to the Tour Down Under this year believe that they have a climber that can win, they could really put the pace down on this circuit and really put the sprinters under pressure. For a guy like me, this is a stage I can look to. In our GreenEdge team we've got Simon Gerrans who'll go well on this stage, Stuart O'Grady, even a guy like Matt Goss if he's in super form."
KOM less than a kilometre away.
What's everyone's opinion of this break? WIll it stay away till late in the race or do you expect a second move to happen once we hit the Stirling circuit?
Clarke takes the day's only KOM sprint, Kohler second. Peloton 10 minutes back or 3 kilometres on the road.
Last image thanks to Jane Aubrey who is down there on the at the prime. Waiting on the third placed rider for the KOM now.
KOM is category two which means we have four places to award.
For everyone's information Clarke will take the KOM jersey at the end of today no matter what. His lead is unassailable.
Peloton passing through the KOM at Lenswood.
Third - Tiago Machado,
Fourth - De Gendt
So the round up once again over the climb.
1. Clarke - 10 pts
2. Kohler - 6
3. Machado - 4
4. De Gendt - 2
Gerrans crests the climb looking good.
Riders going back to the team cars on the descent off the climb, break is 3 kilometres from the intermediate sprint.
If I was Kohler (and I'm not) I'd consider sitting up after he gets this sprint.
Kenny Van Hummel goes back to the team car. He's nursing injuries after yesterday's crash.
Just through Oakbank, and the sprint is not too far away now.
No surprises at the sprint, Kohler ahead of Clarke once again.
So that's six seconds for Kohler. If he can hold on to the peloton at the end of the day he may well be sitting in ochre.
Advantage has diminished significantly. Down to 5:05. Things getting serious?
Van Hummel (Vacansoleil) reportedly really struggling. Could be yet another abandon.
Greipel and Matthews right up there at the second sprint. Who got it?
Apparently Kohler is now 30 seconds behind Clarke?
I like this move from Kohler. That's smart riding.
Confirmation on the sprint over race radio
Matthews took the sprint for third.
1. Kohler (BMC)
2. Clarke (UniSA)
3. Matthews (Rabobank)
So a handy two seconds for Matthews. Is he thinking of overall?
Peloton taking a nature break. Chase will probably begin in earnest after this.
It's risky, but it's calclulated. If he can hang on today at the end it'll have been worth it because we have two "easier" days ahead. TDU generally comes down to seconds. He's wily.
@al_hinds Don't u think Kohler's move is risky for the overall using up all the energy w/ more racing to come? #cyclingnewstdu
@luke0411 Wed, 18th Jan 2012 02:30:17
Before we get on to the Stirling circuit. Let's go with our daily trivia question!
Today's question: Until this year, one rider had ridden every single edition of the Tour Down Under. Who is it?
Answer with the hashtag #cyclingnewstdu for a chance to win those shiny new Bont shoes.
Will Clarke (UniSA) entering the Stirling circuit.
Peloton still not chasing with any vigour - solo rider Will Clarke more than 11 minutes ahead.. The initial gap went down because the break was slowing down more than anything.
Kohler has been absorbed FYI.
Lots of correct answers as always. I'll be assigning the shoes randomly once again at the end of the day.
Clarke just crested the start-finish climb for the first time. Just three more rounds and he'll be today's winner. Simple.
Who's going to chase? At some point they'll have to make a decision.
Movistar rider attacks!
Peloton strung out in the chase. The first tactical play from Valverde's team today.
Thanks for the update Jane!
Just got word that EBH is having a bit of a nightmare day. Two mechanicals so far #cyclingnewstdu
@janeaubrey Wed, 18th Jan 2012 02:55:11
I interviewed Will Clarke after he took out the sprint competition at this year's national championships. You can see more of that here.
Clarke's gap has actually gone out despite the little attacks behind.
Javier Moreno (Movistar) slightly ahead of the bunch.
Chase is now winding up.
Scheduled finish is 2:45 pm local time.
Does anyone know what time today's TDU stage is scheduled to finish? #cyclingnewstdu
@lisanne77 Wed, 18th Jan 2012 03:01:18
Interesting that Contador has confirmed he will br riding in San Luis. Will be holding a press conference on arrival.
Latest time gap is 11:40. Still a big gap.
Moreno is back in the peloton.
Easier said than done.
Will Clarke (Uni-SA) only needs to do each kilometre 7 seconds slower than the chasers and he'll win the stage #tdu
@brentonanthony Wed, 18th Jan 2012 03:08:21
Movistar makes another attack. Now it's Madrazo.
I like what Movistar are doing. They obviously sense a little weakness in the peloton and are trying to capitalise.
Madrazo making progress.
Sorry that was actually 50 kilometres to go.
Can Clarke hang on? This is a big gap to bring back!
The last UniSA rider to win the Tour Down Under was none other than Pat Jonker.
Back then Jonker was part of a break of three riders that finished the opening stage of the Tour a little over a minute ahead.
Madrazo has been caught.
Here comes Clarke. Just over two laps to go of the circuit!
The peloton is breaking up a little at the back under pressure from the pace. Not a lot of progress though.
Two laps to go exactly for Clarke. Till 26 to go Clarke will be more or less descending. He then has to tackle the climb to Stirling and then on to the final lap of the circuit.
There is really not that much road for the peloton to catch Clarke. At least 10 minutes the gap still (Seperated by 8 kilometres)
Lots of teams still happy to be passengers in the chase. They can't wait forever.
Rabobank, RadioShack and SKY all sharing the work at the front. No sign of Lotto-Belisol though. Greipel hurting.
Clarke screaming down the descent.
So RadioShack, Sky and Rabobank. I'd speculate as saying Matthews, Bennati and Boasson Hagen?
Gap for the bunch is 11:05. Yes he's been out there solo for a long time, but you have to remember that this is a reasonably short stage and several Australians including Clarke are carrying "European summer" form.
Clarke needs to remeber to drink and eat. Needs to have the energy for that final climb into Stirling.
Clarke starting to shed a little bit of time.
Gap to 10:35.
Great point! Yes Clarke, has less of a buffer for ochre, but still a great chance to win the stage.
Don't forget that Will dropped 1m50s to the field Yesterday in the last 10 km #TDU
@RobinBancs Wed, 18th Jan 2012 03:40:17
Clarke EXTENDS to 10:50.
Peloton have to be sweating.
A motorbike leading the peloton asked to move further ahead due to potential advantage to the chase.
Puncture for Jens Voigt, getting a back wheel. Gap down to just over 9 minutes. Clarke's lost a minute.
Voigt rejoins main peloton.
Clarke has 23 kilometres to go. His gap around 9 minutes.
Even if, and it's a big if Clarke can take this, it's a big ask for UniSA to control the race for the next four days ahead of them.
Clarke has one circuit to go. That's one gradual downhill and then the final climb.
#cyclingnewstdu Jens Voigt reinflated that flat with his bare lips
@whodoodled Wed, 18th Jan 2012 03:56:10
GreenEdge at the front of the main peloton. How frustrating a situation for Australians. An Australian team bring back an Australian rider.
Gap is 8 minutes 10 seconds. In my opinion he has the stage - now a question of whether he has the overall honours.
Riders getting dropped as the bunch approaches it's final lap.
They're wrong. Each lap is only 22 kilometres and both Clarke and the bunch are through for the final lap.
#cyclingnewstdu only 19Km? in the Santus TDU twitter they say 29K left
@Monecillo Wed, 18th Jan 2012 04:03:36
Gap to the main field is 6:10, both Clarke and the peloton are on the gradual descent before the final Stirling climb. Peloton is single-file.
Peloton firmly split into two, almost three chase groups.
Great signs for Champion System no matter what here. That's Clarke's trade team.
Dave Saunders says to ABC radio that he doesn't believe Clarke will be caught.
Final 10 kilometres, and that's official. Clarke still with 5 minutes. All uphill from here.
If the peloton are goign to catch him they'll need to be going ballistic on the climb.
10km to go for the peloton and it's 4:20 the gap.
God this must be agony for Clarke. I'm sure he's in no shortage of pain.
So close yet so far. Can he do it?
Movistar with Valverde are now firmly in charge of the chae.
3:15 for Will Clarke. Inside the final 3 kilometres - pedalling squares.
Euskatel-Euskadi and Movistar decimating the chase. Clarke will likely not take Ochre.
Under the flamme rouge for Clarke.
Here he comes. Amazing finish! A Tasmanian will take the stage, congratulations Will Clarke.
Gap is decreasing but not quick enough!
Clock is ticking. Where'es the main field.
Matthews wins the sprint, Gerrans third. Gap a little over a minute. Valverde fourth, Boasson Hagen fifth.
Great ride by UniSA.
Thanks for joining us today guys. Will put up the report asap.