South African champion Daryl Impey has sprinted to second place on a bitter sweet day for Mitchelton-SCOTT on stage two of the Santos Tour Down Under.
In a repeat of the 2018 finish in Stirling, Impey finished behind former teammate Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) to pick up another six bonus seconds towards his general classification tally.
Unfortunately a crash in the final two kilometres took out a large portion of the peloton, including Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Simon Yates who took a heavy knock to his left knee.
With little argument from the peloton, two sets of two riders joined together to build the breakaway of the day on the opening lap around Woodside.
The quartet hovered around 90seconds ahead of the bunch, who kept close watch all day, but as they entered into the final 45km and last two laps of the Stirling circuits they were within 40seconds.
Laurens De Vreese (Astana Pro Team) took things into his own hands and attacked his former breakaway companions before he too was sucked up by the motivated peloton.
All-in for the final:
Having saved all of their efforts for the final, Mitchelton-SCOTT hit the front in the final eight kilometres, with all seven riders in a line behind Jack Bauer.
Australian time trial champion Luke Dubridge was the next rider to hit the front whilst behind, the fight for position was on.
It was left to Lucas Hamilton and then Cameron Meyer to do the final lead out before Impey was dropped off for his final sprint with 300m to go. Ewan came with speed from behind and Nathan Haas (Cofidis Solutions) finished third on the wheel of Impey.
Impey now has nine bonus seconds from the first two stages and sits third overall, one second behind leader Ewan and Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quickstep).
Yates caught in crash:
The fight for position saw a big clash of wheels with around two kilometres to go and it took half of the remaining peloton out of contention, including Yates.
Yates suffered a heavy knock to his left knee and will be assessed this evening before a decision on his continuation tomorrow.
“Going into the final with those sprinters I thought it was going to be quite tricky to get bonus seconds today.
“We gambled not to take any sprint bonuses and put everything on the finish line today because it’s a sprint that suits me. We walk away with six seconds and to come second out of that group there, that’s a pleasing result, especially after all of the hard work the guys did at the end there.
“I have nine seconds now, it’s a nice gap over some of the climbers but there’s still a lot of guys in the bike race. There’s a lot more guys in form here this year, but I’d rather have nine seconds in my pocket than none.
“Tomorrow is going to be a difficult day, it’s a day you can lose more than nine seconds so it’s about going to the line and limiting the loss.”
Matt White – Sport Director:
“Today was a day we had to get bonuses on because this is a stage that Daryl has always performed well on, and if we’d come up short today it would have made it quite hard. But six valuable seconds takes it to nine in total, and it was a very successful day for Daryl.
“We will have to see the lay of the land tonight with Simon. Our priority is his health and his knee. He may or may not be able to start tomorrow, but we’ll just have to adjust our plans according. Regardless, Daryl has to get up Paracombe as fast as he can tomorrow and nothing changes there.”
2020 Tour Down Under – Stage 2 Results:
1. Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) 3:27:31
2. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
3. Nathan Haas (Cofidis, Solutions Credit) ST
2020 Tour Down Under – General Classification after Stage 2:
1. Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) 6:56:15
2. Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quickstep) ST
3. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:01
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.