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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, January 19, 2017

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Tour Down Under stage 2 team reports

Team Movistar posted this:

The Movistar Team started showing on Wednesday at the Tour Down Under how determined their riders are to begin shining and be consistent right from the very first UCI WorldTour event of the season. At stage two of the Australian stagerace - first mountain-top finish in Paracombe, following a very lumpy 148km from Stirling's opening circuit - the squad directed by José Luis Arrieta kept the front for almost the entire route. Early on, with Jasha Sütterlin's 80km solo break, which got him to the day's podium as Best Fighter of the day; then, pushing hard at the front of the field in the run-in towards the Gorge Rd. and Torrens Hill Road climbs; and finally, at the moment of truth with Gorka Izagirre.

Gorka izaguirre

Gorka Izagirre in an earlier edition of the Tour Down Under

The 29-year-old Basque allrounder quickly responded to Richie Porte's (BMC) first acceleration, 1500m from the end, and despite not being able to keep the Tasmanian's furious pace, he managed to remain at an interesting gap behind, together with another top-level name as Esteban Chaves (ORS), whom he bested over the line for 2nd place, 16" behind the winner. Gorka is also sitting second overall (+20"), the GC still wide open bar Porte's performance: the next twenty riders behind him - which include Jesús Herrada, 13th over the line and 20th in the overall standings - are just nine seconds apart.

The Tour Down Under will be looking for two predictable sprint finishes on Thursday (Victor Harbor) and Friday (Campbelltown), before its showdown takes place on Saturday with the double ascent towards Old Willunga Hill.

REACTIONS (courtesy Tour Down Under):

Jasha Sütterlin: “It wasn't exactly part of a team plan that I'd go away solo but nobody went and nobody came across so I ended up alone. I kept going until about 30km before the finish and then I just did my best to hold the wheels in the peloton and help my team-mates. I felt great and this prize will surely help me with morale.”

José Luis Arrieta: “It was a good effort by Gorka, but Porte was stronger today. Porte made one more acceleration and Gorka could not follow but it’s a good sign for the team and we will keep fighting. Willunga is a different climb, but we will race to at least keep the podium.”

Here's Team Astana's Down Under news:

Our Spanish rider, the experienced Luis Leon Sanchez, entered in the top ten in today second stage of the Tour Down Under. The race route of this second step of the Australian race previewed many hills along the 148.5 km and the famous uphill finish to Paracombe.

“In the final the speed increased considerably – commented the Astana Pro Team sport director in Australia Stefano Zanini – and we worked to protect our today captain, Luis Leon Sanchez.”

Luis Leon Sanchez

Luis Leon Sanchez at the 2016 Vuelta

“Then there has been the attack of the 2/3 strongest climbers in race and Sanchez has performed pretty well, keeping the wheels of the immediate pursuers and finishing 10th at only 19 seconds from the winner” explained Zanini.

“Having been able to keep the front group of the strongest in this difficult uphill final is a good confirm to me – explained Sanchez – because it means that I’ve worked in the right way in this Winter… let’s see how the race will develop in the next stages, confident of my 9th position in the GC”.

The second stage of the Tour Down Under 2017 has been won by the Tasmanian, Richie Porte. Tomorrow, third stage from Glenelg to Victor Harbor (144 km), with the possibility of wind in the middle part of the race route but that should fit pretty well for the sprinters.

Bora-hansgrohe had this to say about stage 2:

The Tour Down Under was presented with its first summit finish on stage 2. After the team picked up time bonuses throughout the day, Jay McCarthy held onto his fourth spot in the GC, looking ahead to the hard riding on the days to come.

Starting the day with two BORA-hansgrohe riders in the GC top five, and with weather conditions far more conducive to racing, this was to be a day when the race for the overall was going to take shape. The 148.5km route included an opening circuit ridden five times, before heading north with 105km remaining. The undulating parcours continued until the highest point of the day, before a descent allowed riders to prepare for the final climb to the finish, where the day’s fireworks were going to happen.

Jay McCarthy

Jay McCarthy in the orange leader's jersey at last year's Tour Down Under

While early attacks came, there was time to be taken in the intermediate sprints and the BORA-hansgrohe riders pushed to keep it all together. Jay McCarthy added all important seconds to his campaign in the first, while in the second, in spite of a rider escaping up the road and building a strong advantage, Michael Kolar and Rudi Selig took second and third respectively in the second sprint, preventing Jay’s rivals from picking up extra time.

With the race nearing its finale, it was all back together as the GC riders prepared themselves to try and take some time. At the 10km mark, and as the race began its final climb to Paracombe, the race looked calm, and as the kilometres ticked down, there were still no significant moves on the front until the race hit the final part of the climb. A late attack left the bunch behind to take the stage win, but finishing with the bunch, Jay held onto his GC fourth spot, making the most of those all important seconds collected earlier in the day.

From the finish, Jay was again quick to thank his BORA-hansgrohe teammates for their efforts over the day. “We made a very good effort as a team, and I had Peter guide me into the final climb with the rest of the team and he was a big help out there, making sure I kept cool. I was delivered to a good position and when Richie went I didn’t want to follow straight away just in case I used too much energy. I’ve been carrying a little bit of sickness these past few days, and it may affect me or it may not, but I can tell everyone I did everything I could out there today.”

Sports Director and Coach, Patxi Vila knew it would be a tough day, but was pleased the team was in the right place at the right time. “It was a good race. We knew it was really hard for everybody and we tried to put everyone in the best positions – everyone did a great job. Jay was in a good position in the final but he just needed some legs. Still he’s up there in the GC, and even with 19 seconds between him and first place he’s still very close to the podium.”

Sponsored by hansgrohe, the profile of stage 3 will see fireworks as the race for the GC hots up. With some of the most challenging terrain of the race, there’s barely a moment of flat road between the start in Glenelg and the finish in Victor Harbor. While the run in to the finish is fairly level, the sprinters may struggle to stay in touch over the full 144km distance. The short, sharp kicks of the finishing circuit, ridden four times, could encourage late attacks and a GC shake up.

UAE Abu Dhabi sent me this update:

On the third day of races in his eight seasons as pro (all seasons in the World Tour), Diego Ulissi proved that his legs and his determination are already good enough for a place in the circle of the most competitive riders of the Australian bunch.

Team UAE's cyclist was 6th at the arrival of the second stage of the Santos Tour Down Under, 148,5 km from Stirling to Paracombe, crossing the finish line at 16" to the winner Porte and at only 3" to the duo of athletes who completed the podium, who were Izagirre and Chaves.

The race started from Stirling, where Ulissi won in 2014 and he was second in 2016 and the arrival was at the top of an hill of 1500 mt.

The peloton started in cooler temperature than the ones which characterized the first stage, however this factor did not foster a fighting approach to the early kilometers of the race, where only a brief attack of the due Celink-Meyer was recored.\

After 23,7 km, Ben Swift conquered his first award wearing Team UAE jersey by winning the first intermediate sprint of the stage preceding McCharty.
After the sprint, Sutterlin protomed the main attack of the race, which was a solo breakaway with a maximum advantage of 4'30".

The teams of the main contenders for the stage victory neutralized the breakaway and then they focused their attention of the approach of the right turn which led to the final hill.

Diego Ulissi received a proper support from his team mates (photo Bettini) and he succeeded in put the wheels of his Colnago C60 bike in the last 1500 mt of the course by pedaling in the front part of the peloton.

Porte did not hesitate on the final hill and he launched an attack that only Izagirre could follow, however the Spaniard was soon dropped and reached by Chaves.

Ulissi managed his effort and the pedaled in the head of a group of 17 cyclists who reached the arrival at 16" to Porte and at 3" to the duo Izagirre-Chaves. Ulissi was 6th and, thanks to this result, he climbed up the general classification to the 6th place, at 29" to the leader Porte and at only 2" to the 5th place of Haas.

"I'm satisfied for my performance, I had good feedback from my legs and my head when I faced the first seasonal effort - Ulissi commented - The final hill was pretty demanding and those riders whose shape is already almost at the top had an advantage, however I managed to be with them thanks to my legs and to the impressive support I received from my team mates.

The feelings I had today give me the confidence to be able to battle for a good result in the general classification"

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