Alex Manly wins Women's Tour Down Under stage 2

Alex Manly (Jayco-AlUla) won stage 2 of the Women’s Tour Down Under in a sprint between 16 riders after a rolling stage through the Adelaide Hills split the peloton. 

Amanda Spratt (Trek-Segafredo) attacked on Mount Lofty with 11 km to go and held a 15-second gap on the descent to the finish but was reeled in 500 metres from the line. Manly was first through the final corner and held off Georgia Williams (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) and Nina Buijsman (Human Powered Health) in the sprint.

“My team looked after me all day, and then in the final, Ruby Roseman-Gannon attacked across and bridged to Spratty and had a gap, which forced Grace Brown to work. That was the perfect leadout. To do this in my backyard is just so nice,” said Manly after winning the stage in front of friends and family.

Spratt’s attack on Mount Lofty had been expected but neither Brown (FDJ-Suez) nor Manly could stay on her wheel on the climb. However their teams, and FDJ-Suez in particular, pulled out all the stops to close the gap on the descent.

“I know that part of the road, it’s always painful even on a training ride. I just had to make sure I was having momentum, Manly said, surrounded by her happy teammates as they celebrated a big win for the Australia team.  

“Of course Spratty was going to take the opportunity to attack. I tried to go, but I don’t quite have the same legs as Spratty on a climb. But me being there forced the others to chase a bit, and I knew the descent, so I could try to bridge back some time there.” 

Manly now leads the general classification and so wears the ochre-coloured leader’s jersey. She is eight seconds ahead of Williams and Brown and 13 seconds ahead of her teammate Roseman-Gannon. Spratt, Nicole Frain (UniSA-Australia), Loes Adegeest (FDJ-SUEZ) and Krista Doebel-Hickok (EF-TIBCO-SVB) are 14 seconds behind before Tuesday’s final stage.

How it happened

At only 90 kilometres, the stage from Birdwood to Uraidla was short but spicy with two QOM sprints and several more unclassified climbs. 

Despite several attacks, the peloton stayed together until the first intermediate sprint after 34.5 km that was won by Ilaria Sanguineti (Trek-Segafredo) ahead of Brown and Lauretta Hanson. Hanson tried to continue after the sprint, but the Trek-Segafredo rider did not get away.

On the North East Ridge 16 km later, QOM jersey Gladys Verhulst (FDJ-SUEZ) took maximum points ahead of Claire Steels (Israel-Premier Tech Roland), but no breakaway was let go until Debora Silvestri (Zaaf Cycling Team) made her move on one of the unclassified climbs with 38 km to go.

On another climb, a group of 10 riders bridged to Silvestri. It included Steels as well as Buijsman, Rylee McMullen (New Zealand), Georgie Howe (Team Jayco-AlUla), Tayler Wiles (Trek-Segafredo), Lauren Stephens (EF-TIBCO-SVB, Victorie Guilman (FDJ-SUEZ), Gina Ricardo (Team BridgeLane), and the ARA Skip Capital duo of Rachael Wales and Sophie Edwards.

They were 35 seconds ahead of the peloton with 25 km to race and so Trek-Segafredo did the chase work. Steels went solo soon after but the peloton caught the rest of the group on a steep uncategorised climb as the race exploded.

Overnight leader Daria Pikulik (Human Powered Health) lost contact with the peloton in the hills. She made it back just before the race crossed the finish line for the first time but would eventually finish far behind and lose the ochre jersey.

Steels was 28 seconds ahead in Uraidla and won the second intermediate sprint before the climb to Mount Lofty began. With Hanson and Chapman setting a high pace in the peloton for Trek-Segafredo, the British rider’s solo ride was over 13.8 km from the finish.

Chapman continued to put on the pressure and strung out the peloton until Spratt attacked 900 metres from the top of the climb, leaving everybody else behind. She gave it her all in pursuit of a solo victory.

On the descent, Adegeest bridged to Brown to help her chase, but Manly then brought the remains of the peloton back to the two FDJ-Suez riders. Adegeest and Eugénie Duval worked hard to close the gap, but at the two-kilometre mark, Spratt was still ten seconds ahead.

An attack from Rachel Neylan did not get anywhere, but in the brief lull after that, Roseman-Gannon accelerated, forcing Brown to chase after her with Manly on her wheel. 

After Spratt had been caught inside the final kilometre, Smith went to the front to lead out Williams, but Manly used her local knowledge to take the inside line into and through the last turn and accelerate into the finish straight to win the stage.

As a consolation prize, Spratt received the QOM jersey, but what will be more important to her is the knowledge that she could drop everyone on Mount Lofty. She is the favourite for stage 3 over the even steeper Corkscrew climb, which will crown the winner of the 2023 Women’s Tour Down Under.

Results powered by FirstCycling (opens in new tab)

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1