A cura di Matt Poyner, corrispondente dall’Australia per InBici Magazine
Il Tour Down Under non ha faceva tappa a Murray Bridge dal 2001, anno in cui vinse l’italiano Fabio Sacchi e la vittoria della classifica generale è andata al nuovo direttore di gara, Stuart O’Grady. La frazione più lunga di questo TDU ha messo alla prova i contendenti per la classifica generale, non a causa del terreno ma a causa del vento laterale negli ultimi 30-40 chilometri.
La tappa è iniziata con gli attacchi da lontano, ma l’unico corridore che si è messo davvero in luce è stato Lauren De Vreese dell’Astana.
Nei primi due traguardi intermedi di giornata, Jasper Phillipsen (Emirati Arabi Uniti) è andato a caccia di punti per la maglia di leader di questa speciale classifica e ha superato il campione del mondo Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) e Daryl Impey (MTS).
Quest’ultimo conosce bene l’importanza dei bonus perché questa corsa può essere vinta anche per un solo secondo. Grazie agli abbuoni, Impey ha ridotto lo svantaggio su Richie Porte a soli 3 secondi.
A 100 chilometri dall’arrivo riesce ad andare via la fuga. Ancora una volta si mette in evidenza il leader della Subaru KOM, la classifica degli scalatori, Joey Rosskopf (CCC), che ha lanciato l’assalto insieme a Jorge Arcas (MOV), Laurens De Vreese (AST), James Piccoli (ISN) e Sergio Samitier (MOV). Il distacco dal gruppo è aumentato di 3 minuti prima del GPM, dove abbiamo visto Rosskopf prendere 10 punti.
A 32 chilometri dall’arrivo, la fuga aveva solo 20 secondi, il gruppo stava entrando nella città di Mannum e la folla era in festa per accogliere i corridori in questo luogo pittoresco nella regione fluviale dell’Australia meridionale.
Il gruppo aveva complessivamente 25 km da percorrere e un vento trasversale di oltre 20 km/h stava ostacolando i corridori. Il campione del mondo Mads Pedersen stava mantenendo il leader del tour Richie Porte in prima fila, poi, all’improvviso, George Bennett (Jumbo – Visma) stava chiedendo assistenza per un problema con soli 12 chilometri da percorrere.
A 7,8 km dall’arrivo Mitchell Docker (EF), Szymon Sajnok (CCC), Lauren De Vreese e Jay Lindorff (AUS) finiscono a terra. La Deceuninck-Quicstep aveva in mano la corsa con l’ottimo lavoro di Michael Morkov e Shane Archbold pronto a lanciare Sam Bennett. Ewan, Viviani e Daryl Impey sono tutti in buona posizione. La Cofidis si precipita in avanti poco prima dell’ultima stretta curva a destra negli ultimi 300 metri, ma Viviani non era alla ruota dei suoi compagni, complici le botte rimediate due giorni fa che lo hanno sicuramente debilitato.
Sam Bennett lancia la volata, ma incollato alla sua ruota vi era Caleb Ewan. L’australiano è uscito a 75 metri dal traguardo e ha conquistato la sua seconda tappa al TDU e la terza vittoria della stagione. Sam Bennett chiude secondo con Jasper Phillipsen terzo.
The Tour Down Under has not had a stage finish in Murray Bridge since 2001 when the winner of the stage that year was the Italian Fabio Sacchi and the overall tour victory went to the new Race Director Stuart O’Grady. The longest stage of this years tour will test the GC contenders, not because of the terrain but because of potential crosswinds in the last 30-40 kilometres.
The stage started out with the expected early attacks as we would expect but the only rider to get clear (for a short time) was Astana’s Lauren De Vreese. The early break was not going to get its way today as there were two time bonus sprints early in the stage at 18.1 km & 40.3 km respectively.
Mitchellton-Scott & Team Ineos were setting up the first sprint catching the Belgian some 12 kilometres before the sprint which was hotly contested by the GC contenders.
Jasper Phillipsen (UAE) chasing sprint jersey points took out the sprint in front of World Champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) & Daryll Impey (MTS).
Impey knows the importance of the time bonuses along the road and at the stage finishes for this race and when it can be won by just 1 second, every second counts this week in South Australia.
The riders only had 12 kilometres to try and recover before the lead out trains started winding up again Mitchellton-Scott, UAE Team Emirates & Team Sunweb all making their intentions known.
The sprint opened up and once again it was Jasper Phillipsen (UAE) crossed the line first this time in front of a determined Impey and the young man in third on GC Robert Power (Team Sunweb).
Impey has already slashed Porte’s lead to only 3 seconds during today’s Stage.
100 kilometres to go and finally the GC and Sprinters teams (for now anyway) allowed the breakaway to go away.
Once again Subaru KOM leader Joey Rosskopf (CCC) has lead the charge along with Jorge Arcas (MOV), Laurens De Vreese (AST), James Piccoli (ISN) & Sergio Samitier (MOV).
Rosskopf should really be wearing a breakaway jersey as that is how the KOM jersey seems to be won in this modern day cycling world.
The gap from the peloton rose to 3 minutes before the KOM sprint where we saw Rosskopf take the 10 points after a cheeky challenge from De Vreese.
Being assisted by a strong tailwind the peloton soon had the breakaway back to within 2 minutes at 59 kilometres to go and with crosswinds looming around 30 kilometres to go the bunch was becoming quite agitated.
32 kilometres left of the stage and the breakaway only had 20 seconds, the peloton taking a brief slow period thru the town of Mannum and the crowds were out in force to welcome the riders to this picturesque spot in South Australia’s river region.
The peloton was altogether with 25km to go and a predicted crosswind of over 20 kph was hindering riders as they fought for position.
Mads Pedersen was keeping tour leader Ritchie Porte to the front of affairs and then suddenly George Bennett (jumbo – visma) was calling for assistance with just 12 kilometres to race.
EF Education First took over at the front but they were being challenged by Astana for supremacy in the now difficult crosswind.
CRASH CRASH CRASH at 7.8 km! Mitchell Docker (EF), Szymon Sajnok (CCC), Lauren De Vreese & Jay Lindorff (AUS) are amongst those who went down.
The crash split the peloton and with 5 km to go the lead out trains have committed 100% to the finale.
Deceuninck-Quicstep had control being led by Michael Morkov with Shane Archbold ready to launch Sam Bennett again. Ewan, Viviani & Daryll Impey all in good position. Cofidis rush to the front just before the final tight right hand corner into the final 300 Metres finishing straight but Viviani was not on board.
It was Sam Bennett kicking out of the corner the best but glued to his wheel was Caleb Ewan.
Ewan stepped out 75 metres from the line and made it look easy as he took his Second stage win and his 3rd win of the season.
Sam Bennett was 2nd and Jasper Phillipsen 3rd.
Caleb Ewan: We knew there was going to be a lot of wind once we turned on to the flat part of the course. I was never in trouble, the team did such a good job today to make sure I had the legs for the finish.
It was a very tight corner in the finish, but to be honest I like it when there’s a turn before the finish. I was exactly where I wanted to be for the finish.
Tomorrow is one of those days that could go either way. Last time I did it, I got dropped on the climb, so I hope things go my way tomorrow.
Daryll Impey closed to within 3 seconds of Ritchie Porte and Robert Power also picked up another second.
Tomorrow’s stage is from seaside town to seaside town.
Glenelg to Victor Harbor 149.1km
The stage can go either way depending on the wind but with the tour finishing up the famous Willunga Hill on Sunday, one gets the impression the Sprinters may have their way again tomorrow.