Jay McCarthy escapes late crash, takes the stage and the Ochre Jersey at the Tour Down Under.

STAGE 2 REPORT FROM JAMES RAISON in Australia at the TDU.

Photo credit: Santos Tour Down Under / Regallo

 Stage2a-Australian Jay McCarthy(Tinkoff) beats Italian Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) on the Staging Connections Stage 2 finish line.

Stage2a-Australian Jay McCarthy(Tinkoff) beats Italian Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) on the Staging Connections Stage 2 finish line.

“I definitely have the chance to go for the GC this week” says Stage 2 winner Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff) who avoided the chaos of a late crash to take the Ochre jersey.

The second stage of the Tour Down Under (TDU) rolled out of Unley, just 2km from the Adelaide CBD, before heading into the eastern hills for five laps of a 21km loop through the towns of Heathfield, Mylor, Aldgate and finishing in Stirling. Ahead were 132kms, over 3000 metres (10,000 ft) ascending, and more 30°C+ temperatures.

 Stage2c-Australian Jay McCarthy(Tinkoff) wears the Santos Ochre Leaders jersey

Stage2c-Australian Jay McCarthy(Tinkoff) wears the Santos Ochre Leaders jersey

Manuele Boarro took the points on the KOM, and the jersey with it, at Range View Road after 13.8km.  He beat out current polka dot jersey wearer Patrick Lane (UniSA), and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal).

Orica GreenEdge then closed down the break immediately so they could lead out their GC man Simon Gerrans at the first sprint point. Gerrans took full points and bonus time ahead of teammate Caleb Ewan. Dimension Data’s Reinhardt Janse Van Rensburg crossed third.

Peloton strongman Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) then threw caution to the wind and soloed away from the field in the post-sprint lull. 

 Stage2d-Lampre-Merida rider Tsgabu Grmay meets the local wildlife

Stage2d-Lampre-Merida rider Tsgabu Grmay meets the local wildlife

The second sprint point was taken by the solo Hansen, with an aggressive Gerrans second, and Ewan third. The TDU is often won by a handful of seconds, so those efforts by the Orica GreenEdge duo could be crucial come the final on Sunday.

Orica GreenEdge again took pace making responsibility as they did on Stage 1, allowing Hansen to hover two minutes up the road.

 Stage2e-Ochre Jersey wearer Caleb Ewan signs autographs for the fans at race start

Stage2e-Ochre Jersey wearer Caleb Ewan signs autographs for the fans at race start

The red BMC mist descended on the front of the bunch at 26km to go, protecting their two-headed climbing GC monster of Richie Porte and defending champ Rohan Dennis. 

Orica GreenEdge took control again at the final lap bell, swallowing up Adam Hansen 19km from home. 

Kiel Reijnan (Trek-Segafredo) made the save of the day as he flew off the road, brakes locked, with a double-puncture with 10km to go. It’d be a car convoy finish for the unlucky American.

 Fans at the start line

Fans at the start line

The lead of the race became hotly contested territory with Giant Alpecin, Trek-Segafredo, and Tinkoff joined forced to string out the bunch. Dimension Data sprinters Tyler Farrar and Mark Renshaw were among the big names sliding off the back. 

Sky swarmed to the front and lifted the tempo again, causing race leader Ewan to drop off the back. Ewan knew before the stage that he “can’t go through the whole tour wearing Ochre” but rode valiantly until conceding.

 The race start at Unley

The race start at Unley

The Sky lads dropped back soon after, replaced by Cannondale Pro Cycling Team, Giant-Alpecin, then Lampre-Merida.

A touch of wheels between an Astana rider and Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) caused a crash at 800m from the line, bringing down several riders including Simon Gerrans, and disrupting many others. Tinkoff and Cannondale took advantage and pushed on the front. 

Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) was the first to open the uphill sprint. The Italian looked like he’d take the stage but young Jay McCarthy Aussie ground him down before winning with a bike throw. Defending champ Rohan Dennis (BMC) avoided the chaos to finish third.

 The peloton on the look-out for Kangaroos

The peloton on the look-out for Kangaroos

After the stage McCarthy revealed he “had an eye on this stage”. 

“This year I knew I was in really good shape,” he said of his aspirations.

Dennis was another beneficiary of the chaos but said he hoped Gerrans can come back. 

“I hope the crash doesn’t hinder Simon (Gerrans), because no one wants to win like that,” Dennis said.

 Solo breakaway rider Adam Hansen gets a tyre change

Solo breakaway rider Adam Hansen gets a tyre change

Gerrans was realistic after the stage. 

“It’s a shame to lose time bonuses, because a second counts for a lot in this race,”  he said. There’s plenty of reason for optimism, Gerrans efforts chasing intermediate sprint bonuses leave him in third spot in the GC. 

McCarthy was also realistic about the hard yards ahead.  

“Now I have to go back, recover for Corkscrew. There’s plenty more work ahead of us.”

Stage 3 begins by the seaside at Glenelg, 12km south of Adelaide, and finishes in the Adelaide suburb of Campeltown. The stage could be decisive with Corkscrew road guaranteed to blow apart the race.

What were they thinking?

The non-Orica-GreenEdge teams with GC hopes were caught out twice letting Gerrans and Ewan take the sprint bonus seconds. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Great job Orica-GreenEdge, that tactical nous could see you win the TDU.

 Adam Hansen Lotto-Soudal,was the Alpecin Most Competitive Rider of the day

Adam Hansen Lotto-Soudal,was the Alpecin Most Competitive Rider of the day

Stats:

Santos Tour Down Under Classification Leaders after Staging Connections Stage 2 

                Santos Ochre Leader’s Jersey - Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff)

                iiNet Sprint Jersey - Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge)

                Subaru King of the Mountain Jersey - Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff)

                Alpecin Most Competitive Rider - Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal)

                Wilson Parking Winning Team Competition - Cannondale Pro Cycling

Thank you James and "THE LEAD SOUTH AUSTRALIA".

SD TEAM