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Santos Tour Down Under 2012: Stage 2

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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.

 

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.

138km remaining from 148km

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)

131km remaining from 148km

Simon Gerrans a potential winner today said:

128km remaining from 148km

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:

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:

This is the day that Matthews won the stage last year. Maybe Rabobank's man for today?

Alejandro Valverde said:

120km remaining from 148km

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?

117km remaining from 148km

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.

105km remaining from 148km

103km remaining from 148km

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,

So the round up once again over the climb.

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.

88km remaining from 148km

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.

85km remaining from 148km

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

Recap:

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.

And the final women's race as well:

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?

Will Clarke (UniSA) entering the Stirling circuit.

68km remaining from 148km

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.

58km remaining from 148km

Movistar rider attacks!

Peloton strung out in the chase. The first tactical play from Valverde's team today.

Thanks for the update Jane!

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.

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.

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.

58km remaining from 148km

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.

44km remaining from 148km

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.

38km remaining from 148km

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.

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.

30km remaining from 148km

Voigt rejoins main peloton.

23km remaining from 148km

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.

Almost certainly.

GreenEdge at the front of the main peloton. How frustrating a situation for Australians. An Australian team bring back an Australian rider.

17km remaining from 148km

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.

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.

10km remaining from 148km

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.

5km remaining from 148km

Movistar with Valverde are now firmly in charge of the chae.

3:15 for Will Clarke. Inside the final 3 kilometres - pedalling squares.

3km remaining from 148km

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!

Clarke wins!

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.

Epic day.

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