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Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the second stage of the 2013 Tour Down Under. I'm Jane Aubrey and I'll be taking you through the 116.5km stage from Mount Barker to Rostrevor, where we will see the first true GC selection emerge.
The peloton is making their final preparations in Mount Barker before the second stage gets underway in around 10 minutes.
Let's take a look at the General Classification after Stage 1.
Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) wears the ochre leader's jersey. Next best is fast Frenchman Arnaud Demare (FDJ) at 4sec, then Mark Renshaw (Blacno) at 6sec.
Expect a very different look just after 2pm local time when the stage has reached its conclusion!
There is just one kilometre of neutral this morning... expect action from the drop of the flag.
The peloton is just leaving the start area now.
You can join the conversation by using #cntdu on twitter or shoot me a tweet via @janeaubrey
While it is a short stage at just 116.5km, it's a tough one.
We have two sprints and one KOM with a loop from the beautiful Hahndorf and out to Littlehampton in between.
Neutral is over, race is go!
Cyclingnews reporters Alex Malone and Jean-François Quénet are out on the road today and we're expecting some rider reactions from the startline from them shortly.
The focus of today's stage is the rather awesome Corkscrew climb. A local favourite.
We have a group of four riders out the front of the peloton at present, led by UniSA's Calvin Watson, recent winner of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.
Also with him are Will Clarke (Argos - Shimano), Guillaume Bonnafond (AG2R) and Christopher Juul Jensen (Saxo - Tinkoff). They have a few hundred metres on the bunch.
Speaking of Calvin Watson, here's what he had to say before the race got under way.
"I’m gonna try to be the UniSA rider up the road today. It’s a good finish for me but racing into the climb is the hardest, so I want to be ahead of the field before the climb to save some energy."
Gap opening up quickly now... After 17km of racing the quartet have 2:10 on the peloton
Back to Corkscrew, which kicks in just 7km out from the finish line today. It's relatively short at a little under 3km but the long drag to the proper start and hairpin corners that kick up to 17%, it's definitely going to split the field.
You can read more about what some of the riders think, by clicking here.
World Champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) was keeping a very close eye on Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge) during Stage 1. Here's what he had to say before the start.
"Simon Gerrans and I being fighting and equal on times like now is a long story. Our first match was the 2004 Paris-Correze when I was a neo pro with FDJ and Simon was a trainee with Ag2r. We have similar qualities, but right now, he’s fitter than I am and it’s more important for him than for me to win here. It would be the opposite if it was a race in Belgium. The match between started yesterday but he started it, I only responded!"
Got to feel for some of the Brits here in Adelaide. Ian Stannard (Sky) told us at the start that the heat was going to be a factor today.
"It's January so you don't really know how guys are going to go up the climb. This heat will also make it really difficult. G [Gerraint Thomas] is looking really good and Eddy [Boasson Hagen] obviously so we are going to look after them. If the sprinter's teams try and shut it down we just have to try and attack and keep the pace high."
Blanco driving the front of the peloton now...
The race has split into three distinct groups and the breakaway's advatange is being worn down...
The breakaway is inside 5km to go before the first sprint of the day at 32.1km.
Peloton back together now.
Gap down to 45 seconds now.
Under 1km to go before the sprint.
One of the teams to watch today is definitely RadioShack Leopard. We spoke to Kiwi George Bennett before the stage got underway...
"We've got a few options with [Ben] Hermans and Tiago [Machado] who was here last year and got third. The left-hander is really important but it's still 800m to the bottom of the climb and you can lose a lot of positions. Movistar and a few other teams are probably going to light it up really early up the climb. We are just going to try and get three of us through the hard part of the climb."
Results from the first intermediate sprint and it was Clarke first across the line from, Watson and Bonnaford.
BMC's Danilo Wyss is having some mechanical difficulty. He's a key man for Philippe Gilbert so hopefully he won't be too disadvantaged for too long.
Front group now on River Road.
Oh lucky us. The 'Feel the Rush' song is currently playing...
Brett Dutschke from weatherzone has just informed me that the southeasterly will pick up a bit during the day and will be a head wind to Meadows then a tail wind to about Hahndorf and most of the rest of Stage 2 (apart from the Hahndorf/Littlehampton loop and the final stretch from Cudlee Creek to Rostrevor). It will warm up a bit quicker than yesterday, reaching 25 degrees for most of the Stage and reaching about 29 degrees for the last few kilometres to Rostrevor.
The peloton is just heading through the feed zone now. The gap out to the break is stable at just under 2mins.
Huge crowds lining the roads around Hahndorf. Great to see.
It's not often you get agreement in the Australian Cyclingnews office with plenty of debate but today, Alex Malone and I agree. Visconti for the win!
Here's what Alex has to say: "Yesterday the team had Jose Herrada and Jose Ivan Gutierrez who nearly split the group by riding hard tempo. I think they will be looking after Jose Joaquin Rojas to get him over the climb but I think Giovanni Visconti will be the man to watch today. Visconti is a solid sprinter from a small group."
We're just under an hour away from Corkscrew anf the bunch isn't looking too bad, and not overly strung out. The question is, when will the break be brought back.
Looking forward to seeing the TDU race up corkscrew. It's a prick of a climb, I use to have to go up there 4-5 times in training.
@tiffanycromwell Wed, 23rd Jan 2013 01:47:01
Adelaide local there, Orica AIS rider Tiffany Cromwell... Obviously not a fan of Corkscrew!
Andy Schleck (RadioShack Leopard) met a namesake this morning, a wallaby by all accounts. He's currently driving the peloton with new Australian champion Luke Durbridge (Orica GreenEdge) on his wheel.
No surprises to see a UniSA rider in the break today. The Australian National team are here to animate the race. At the helm once again is the great Dave Sanders. He spoke with Alex Malone back in Mt Barker and I've got a feeling he'll be pretty pleased with the way the race is panning out.
"Ideally we want a small group. They will let a small group go, they won't let a big group go. They won't get six minutes because they will ride it back so maybe two minutes and then gas it down the hill. You can go as fast as the chase group. Maybe we can get to the bottom of the hill a minute in front.
"We've got two or three guys who can get up the hill maybe in top-10. Zak or Anthony or even Calvin Watson but don't underestimate Damien Howson – he's going. He's not far from the level Rohan Dennis was last year. We believe that. Anything is possible. Our guys are race fit, a lot of the others are fit but not really race fit. It's a little bit of a different appraisal to other times of the year."
The four riders in the breakaway aren't content just to sit out front today. The youngest man in the break, Calvin Watson (UniSA - Australia) is doing a great job!
There's another sprint, and more valuable seconds up for grabs coming up shortly at Oakbank.
The entire race is now out of the Hahndorf loop and on the way to Balhannah.
Inside 50km to the finish now...
Calvin Watson leading out for the sprint... He sits up.
It's the other Australian who takes maximum points though, Will Clarke ahead of Bonnafond.
Juul Jensen was third across the line for the sprint. So sprint standings for the stage so far:
Juul Jensen 1
Martin Kohler (BMC) on the front of the peloton while Will Clarke (UniSA) gets instructions from the team car.
Clarke time-trialled to victory on the Stirling stage last year in a brilliant solo performance. Will we see him disappear up the road again?
Bunch has the breakaway in sight... just.
The amount of work Luke Durbridge has done for the Orica GreenEdge team so far this week has been phenomenal... He's on the front of the bunch again.
Hearing there is a small diesel spill on the road about 3km up the road... Will keep you updated as information filters through.
Break is heading out again, just under 2minutes.
Bernard Eisel (Sky) and Durbridge taking turns on the front of the peloton. Not far behind is the Lotto Belisol team who are protecting the interested of Ochre Jersey Andre Greipel. Obviously, they know how to get the most out of positioning but can they keep the German in the right spot heading down Gorge Road?
Gap on the way down now... 1:20
Andy Schleck now at the back of the bunch after a fair bit of work on the front earlier...
Lampre, GreenEdge and Astana all at the front of the bunch on Cudlee Creek Road.
The peloton can see the four leaders on the bends ahead.
Support vehicles are out of the gap. The race will be back together before the climb. Game on!
Race together according to race radio.
Calvin Watson having an unfortunate crash. He should be okay.
It's also just been confirmed that Christopher Juul Jensen has been awarded the most aggressive rider of Stage 2 after his stint the breakaway.
Can also confirm that was Watson's teammate Damien Howson who crashed a short time ago. He's back on his bike.
The peloton is flying down the Gorge!
It's Greipel on the front of the bunch... Position! Position! Position!
Yann Huguet (Argos Shimano), Simon Clarke (Orica GreenEdge) leading the charge but it's short-lived. It won't be the last.
Andrey Amador (Movistar) and Matthew Lloyd (Lampre) now...
And George Bennett (Radioshack Leopard) has just ridden right past the lead pair... A very dangerous guy on a climb like this.
Geraint Thomas (Sky) joins Bennett.
And it's Thomas who looks more comfortable... Bye, bye Bennett!
Thoms is motoring.
He takes the points at the top of the KOM. He's being pursued by two riders from RadioShack and another from Movistar.
Gilbert, Lloyd amond those in a crash!
15 riders down in that crash. Ambulances have been called.
Lead riders are: Thomas (Sky), Didier, Hermans (Raadioshack Leopard) and Javier Moreno (Movistar).
Tom Jelte Slagter (Blanco) among those in a 11-rider chase group closing in on the lead four.
Tim Wellens (Lotto Belisol), Tiago Machado (RadioShack) also in the chase.
Thomas skirts around the lead grup with just over 300m to go to cross the finish line as the winner of Stage 2.
Moreno was second...
Hermans was third across the line.
We'll get you injury updates as they come in.
A win for Team Sky and a new race leader in Geraint Thomas. Thanks for joining us for Stage 2 of the Tour Down Under. We'll have more from Stirling tomorrow.