Photos courtesy of “Cycling Tips”:http://www.cyclingtips.com.au
Welsh wizard Geraint Thomas took victory on stage two of the Tour Down Under on Wednesday to move into the leader’s jersey and then held on to the top spot in a tough stage around Stirling today. On Wednesday’s stage the British rider attacked on the decisive Corkscrew Hill climb, and after a furious descent into the finish in Rostrevor he outsprinted fellow escapees Javier Moreno of Movistar and RadioShack-Leopard’s Ben Hermans to give him a five-second lead overall.
The second, 116km stage set out from Mt Barker with a smattering of early attacks. Eventually a break of four got clear, the last rider of which being reeled in with 17km left to race. Team Sky, also consisting of Bernie Eisel, Eddy Boasson Hagen, Ian Stannard, Mat Hayman, Luke Rowe and Chris Sutton, ensured Thomas was positioned comfortably near the front for the run in to the climb of 2.5km at a 9% average.
As soon as the road went up, Thomas began to make his move. The first man over the top, he took the points and then flew down the descent. As a group of 11 riders tried to catch the four-man break including Thomas, the Olympic track medallist took the other three by surprise by dropping to the back and then surging past to take the win.
After pulling on the ochre jersey, Thomas said:
“I’m really happy with that. I’ve got some good kilometres in over the winter. I knew I had decent form but you never know how well everyone else is going. I always knew that I’d have decent legs on the climb I just wasn’t sure how I’d go. I got a bit excited and attacked a bit earlier on there. With about 400 metres to go I was starting to tie up but fortunately there was that group behind and we were able to work well together.”
Team Sky Sports Director Kurt-Asle Arvesen added his praise:
“It was a really good day and a really good win for G and for the team. We’ve been doing a lot of work for him to keep him towards the front and when he can pull off a stage win like that it’s perfect. Now we need to make sure the right group goes tomorrow morning and the boys can help control behind. It’s a good start to the year.”
The following stage three saw the peloton tackle a tough, hilly circuit in temperatures of almost 40 degrees. The team worked hard to control the race and reel in a two-man break to defend Thomas’s jersey and maintain his 5 second advantage. The in-form Thomas also claimed the points and mountain jersey for his efforts. He said afterwards:
“It was pretty tough out there. A lot of guys started attacking us from three laps out so the boys had to ride really hard. They did an incredible job today. They set a fast tempo and I can’t thank them enough.”
As long as the team continue this approach, Sunday’s Willunga Hill stage is set to be the decisive day for the young British rider.