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Welcome back to Cyclingnews for our coverage of stage two of this year's Santos Tour Down Under from Gawler, approximately 60km from Adelaide, to the German-settled town of Hahndorf.
Congratulations to André Greipel, Allan Peiper and the HTC-Columbia team for their performance in yesterday's stage from Clare to Tanunda and the boys in yellow will be aiming to repeat that performance in today's 133.5km that includes two intermediate sprints - at Lyndoch and Mount Torrens - plus a KOM on Old Checker Hill that comes 89.3km into the parcours.
Well, our man on the ground today, Greg Johnson, says that the weather is virtually the same as yesterday's conditions - sunny adn warm, a slight north-easterly breeze which could gather speed to a moderate wind on some parts of the parcours and a clear blue sky... for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, I can only say sorry you're missing out...
The race is underway, with neutral ending at 11:05am and immediately there is an attack. Mickael Delage and Olivier Kaisen (both Omega Pharma -Lotto) and David Kemp (UniSA) quickly gain an advantage of 500m.
Two riders who chanced their arm yesterday, Gorka Izaguirre (Euskaltel Euskadi) and Thomas Rohregger (Milram) have decided they want to join the breakaway trio and make a dash for it off the front... but it doesn't last for long
There's vigilance in the peloton as the break's advantage is 21 seconds... no love for the boys out the front
Mikel Nieve is another Euskaltel Euskadi trying to have a crack at breaking away from the peloton - these boys have itchy feet thus far in this year's Tour Down Under, although they're normally quite active each year in Adelaide...
Nieve's attack doesn't last for long as he sits up and waits for the bunch... bad luck son, try again later
The gap between the three-man break and the peloton has increased to 1:15 - good work, lads. Time to keep the gas on past the intermediate sprint and on to Williamstown...
Another 20 seconds for the break - keep the pressure on boys!
Mickael Delage (Omega Pharma -Lotto) wins the first intermediate sprint, ahead of David Kemp (UniSA) and Olivier Kaisen (Omega Pharma -Lotto)
The peloton makes its way through Lyndoch and the time gap has increased to 2:10 seconds - these three are really consolidating their lead in good time.
With Williamstown beckoning in the distance, the break has an advantage of 3:08, although apparently there was a little bit of 'intrigue' leading up to the first intermediate sprint... Maybe a bit of cross-cultural miscommunication...
It appears as though one of the two Omega Pharma-Lotto riders in the break has a slight medical issue that needs attention, although that hasn't stopped the break making more time on the peloton, the gap now increasing to 4:09
More alpacas, folks! Apparently the Katusha car stopped for a nature break outside a field of these long-necked guys and the animals didn't appreciate that kind of attention too much... Neither would I, to be honest!
The break has put another minute into the peloton as the trio gets closer to Williamstown. There's sure to be a good crowd around the Williamstown Hotel - to all those people in the town, Cyclingnews says a big 'Howdy Doody'...
Today's stage started in Gawler, home town to Garmin-Transitions' Jack Bobridge, the current U23 time trial world champion. During stage one of last year's Tour Down Under, the young firebrand rider attacked hard on the run to Mawson Lakes, impressing Lance Armstrong and obviously the management at Garmin...
Today's three-man break is getting the same amount of leash afforded yesterday's escape group - the gap is now 7:24
Maybe, just maybe, the break will get more time today than it did yesterday - the gap is 9:20 as the peloton passes the 27km mark, which is good work by the trio out front.
Belgian rider Olivier Kaisen also tried his luck in a break on these roads during last year's Tour Down Under, attacking during the first stage from Norwood to Mawson Lakes, which was won by - you guessed it - André Greipel.
He managed to stay away for a large part of the day, and it appears as though he might do the same today... stay tuned to find out.
HTC-Columbia has decided that it's time to 'reel these suckers in', as Mr T might say... the gap remains at 9:20, but that may not be for too much longer
Having gone through Williamstown, riders are now making their way over to Springton before heading to Mount Pleasant, where during last year's race your intrepid Cyclingnews reporter enjoyed a homestyle wurst in a masive bread roll, complete with sauerkraut. There's a German theme throughout the Adelaide Hills, and it shows - Hahndorf, here we come!
OK, so the break that got away soon after today's start has been given more rope than yesterday's escape - the gap has increased to 11:30, an impressive effort from Delage, Kaisen and Kemp... keep on truckin' boys!
French rider Mickael Delage won a stage of the Tour de l'Avenir in 2006, the prestigious French race now contested by national teams. The 24-year-old from Libourne rode his first grand tour for Française des Jeux at the age of 20 when he finished the 2006 Giro d'Italia.
A talented former track endurance rider, Delage has already ridden five grand tours, with the highlight a fourth place finish in stage 16 of the 2008 Vuelta a España.
The peloton is approximately six kilometres behind the break - the escape is making its way through the 50km mark. If I had studied math harder at school, I'd be able to bring you some kind of time gap based on a rough estimate of speed with the distances involved. Let's just wait for the time board to bring us that information... although my guess is that HTC-Columbia's diligence on the front of the peloton has brought the gap down below 11 minutes
Confirmation of my hunch came in the form of a time check, which gives the break at 10:39 ahead of the peloton
It's slow progress, but the break is being dragged back by its hair - well, not literally. The gap is down to an even 10-and-a-half minutes
Having mentioned Mount Pleasant earlier, the peloton passes through the town with a deficit of 9:43 to the three-man break. That's almost a minute reduction in five kilometres, which means that it's time to get serious for the boys at the front of the peloton
One rider who took his first ever Tour Down Under win in Hahndorf is Allan Davis. The Astana rider told Cyclingnews this morning that, "There are still plenty of stages to be won. I am sprinting really well and the week's not over yet." Is this the war cry of the Bundaberg lad? We'll see in about 80 kilometres' time...
There goes another 21 seconds... the break is now 9:22 ahead of the peloton on the road back to Williamstown
The road back to Williamstown on this part of the course passes Mt Crawford forest, which has been home to rounds of the Australian Rally Championship in the past. The riders are travelling a little slower than a rally car, although they'll still be hooting along on the wide road next to the forest.
And as we speak about the peloton speeding along, it has reduced the break's advantage to 8:40, a drop of 42 seconds in six kilometres - the trio in front will be hoping it can stay away until the KOM in 28 kilometres
There's a fantastic downhill run into Williamstown before veering left to head to Kersbrook - the peloton will surely make up plenty of time on that section as riders tuck into an aero ball and reach speeds touching 85km/h
As we suspected, that downhill section has reaped rewards in a big reduction of the break's advantage: it's now 7:46 and decreasing rapidly. That was almost a minute in five kilometres - the sprinters' teams have got the pace wound up and are hunting the trio out front like a pheasant in a field...
Forget about pheasants, the breakaway stands as much chance as a fly against a can of flyspray - in two kilometres the gap has decreased by 33 seconds to 7:13! Greipel and co are intent on stopping that buzzing, although Delage, Kemp and Kaisen are 15km from the KOM and will pass it off the front
With 17km before the peloton hits the climb, the gap is down to 6:42...
Could today's stage be won by one of Sky's sprinters? Well, I'm no Nostradamus but I can tell you where to have a look at the bike ridden by Team Sky's Ben Swift, who will be helping his teammates to a possible victory in Hahndorf. It's an impressive machine...
The peloton is being controlled by RadioShack, Katusha and HTC-Columbia and currently trails the break by 6:17. With less than 60km remaining in the stage, that means the bunch will have to wipe off a minute every 10km... totally within its reach, but there's no room for complacency
Quick Step has taken over the duties on the front of the bunch, with the gap to the break dropping to below six minutes. The leading trio should now be about seven kilometres from the KOM - we'll endeavour to get confirmation of that for the folks out there...
Ouch! The pace is really hotting up - courtesy of RadioShack - as we approach the KOM. The gap has gone down to 5:05, a reduction of 37 seconds in three kilometres... that tailwind we spoke of is doing the business, folks!
Speaking of the KOM on Checker Hill Rd, Team Milram's Luke Roberts told Cyclingnews about the climb in our stage description:
Checker Hill comes later than it has ever before - I don't know from last year's race but I've looked at results and seen where it went - but Checker Hill has traditionally come about 30km into the stage after running through the Gorge and up Checkers Hill. This year it's about 40km before we come into the finish in Hahndorf.
Often, when we've gone over Checker Hill in the past the peloton explodes to pieces but on the descent, after we've turned and come into Birdwood, it was so long to the finish that no one would really want to keep going in a break.
This year, once you're off the descent and back down towards Gumeracha then it's only 30-odd kilometres to Hahndorf and it's possible to keep going from there - a good group can keep going to the finish from there. Checker Hill can throw a spanner in the works.
The break is about four kilometres from the KOM and the gap has been reduced to 4:48 - with this information we now know that the leading trio is still two kilometres ahead of the bunch, which is primed and giving it the full treatment
The peloton, led by Jason McCartney (RadioShack), Juan Horrach (Katusha) and HTC-Columbia, has just passed the feed zone
With a kilometre before the KOM for the peloton, the gap to the break is down to 3:54 - we're awaiting results of the KOM and will endeavour to get them to you as soon as possible...
David Kemp (UniSA) has attacked his break companions over the top of the KOM and the peloton is nearing a catch of the escape group as it crests the hill...
Details are a little sketchy from race radio, but it apears as though David Kemp (UniSA) took the KOM points. We'll try to get confirmation of that and the minor placings soon...
As we reported earlier, David Kemp took the KOM points, with Omeag Pharma-Lotto riders Mickael Delage and Olivier Kaisen taking second and third respectively
WIth the break seemingly doomed to fail today, the stage is set for another André Greipel victory. Teammate Matt Goss told Cyclingnews that, "The team has a lot of faith in André so we're going to try and get him in for another stage win." Judging by the way Greipel sprinted yesterday, his teammates need only take him to the final 500m before he blasts around his fellow sprinters...
There's a gap of 2:25 seconds to the peloton, with Delage and Kaisen regaining contact with Kemp and continuing off the front of the peloton
With a gap of 1:56, there's a chance the break will stay away until the second intermediate sprint at Mt Torrens, although the peloton is continuing to reduce the advantage - come on lads, let the three guys out the front take the points before swallowing them up!
The break has four kilometres until the second intermediate sprint, meaning its about one kilometre ahead of the peloton...
There's less than 30km to go in the stage and with the gap to the break below two minutes, the catch will most likely be made in the next 10km for a long drag to the finish in Hahndorf
As the peloton passes the second intermediate sprint, rough details of the points allocated at this section can be gleamed - it appears that Mickael Delage beat David Kemp and Olivier Kaisen. Confirmation to come...
Confirmation of that second intermediate sprint: Mickael Delage (Omega Pharma -Lotto) took maximum points ahead of David Kemp (UniSA) and Olivier Kaisen (Omega Pharma -Lotto) as the leading trio has 20km to the finish
The time gap appears to be around the one minute mark...
Kaisen has been dropped by Delage and Kemp, the latter two pressing on with the peloton breathing down their necks. As the bunch makes its way from Woodside to Oakbank, the time gap is just 30 seconds...
RadioShack appears to be grouping for a push to get its man Gert Steegmans in prime position for the finish. The Belgian took second yesterday and is looking good on day two
The break of two riders - Mickael Delage and David Kemp - has 15 seconds on the peloton, which has entered the final 10km of the stage. Astana and RadioShack are gathering at the front of the main bunch, likely for Allan Davis and Gert Steegmans respectively
Details are sketchy, but there's a visual on the leading two riders who will shortly be caught by a hard-charging peloton that is intent on making the most of a favourable finish in Hahndorf - a slightly uphill drag
We're inside the final 10km so if there's anyone who wants to make a kamikaze attempt at a solo break before the finish, they better do it now... or get out of the way!
David Kemp and Mickael Delage have been caught by the peloton and it's now a six-kilometre slog to the finish
We've just got the five kilometres remaining signal from the race officials, so it's game on for the sprinters' trains as they line up between Balhannah and the finishing town of Hahndorf
We're getting no love from race radio but we're assuming the peloton has entered the final three kilometres, judging by the difference between actual and proposed race schedule...
Greipel has won it!