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Down Under: Dennis takes stage win and overall lead

Unlucky Matthews, Bettiol stopped by convulsions

By Felix Mattis


Rohan Dennis (Jumbo – Visma) won stage 2 of the Tour Down Under. | Photo: Cor Vos

01/19/2023 | (rsn) – The 2nd stage upset the general classification of the 23rd Tour Down Under (WT 2). After 154.8 kilometers at Victor Harbor, Rohan Dennis (Jumbo – Visma) secured the stage victory from a group of five favorites ahead of Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates) and Mauro Schmid (Soudal – Quick-Step) as well as Simon Yates (Jayco – AlUla) and Jai Hindley (Bora – hansgrohe).

The quintet around Dennis broke away from the peloton 20 kilometers from the finish after an attack by Vine on Nettle Hill (1st cat.), then took a 40-second lead and finally saved eleven of them at the arrival. With his first win in over a year, Dennis also took the lead in the overall standings.

“It was really hard work. I gave it my all on the climb to join Jay (Vine) and Yates. And from there it was just a matter of passing,” said the stage winner at the arrival. However, Dennis had deleted the decisive scene: because instead of just getting out of it and sprinting for victory, the 32-year-old also launched a strong and intelligent attack on the last kilometer. This ultimately brought him success.

Matthews scrambled, then the chain got stuck

From the reduced peloton, Caleb Ewan (Australia national team) won the sprint for sixth place. On the other hand, he did not meet Michael Matthews (Jayco – AlUla) and Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious). The Cologne native, who had won the first stage, was shaken up in Nettle Hill, the Australian was unlucky just before: “I don’t know what’s going on in cycling these days , there is no more respect. placed before the climb and then I got jostled to one side and then the other and all of a sudden my chain got stuck in the front,” Matthews said, describing the moment he had to stop and saw all his skin in terms of stage victory and the general classification with 22 kilometers from the finish.

“It’s never nice to take someone’s time because of a blemish. But unfortunately, sometimes it’s like that,” Dennis said of losing Matthews as an overall opponent. .

The winner of the prologue Alberto Bettiol (EF Education – EasyPost), who stopped twelve kilometers from the finish with severe thigh cramps and had to let the peloton go, also fell well behind. Dennis took over the overall leader’s jersey, now three seconds ahead of Vine and twelve seconds ahead of the American Magnus Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers), who was the only one in the previous top 5 to stay in the first batch.

Ewan took the lead in the points standings from Bauhaus, Vine took the lead in the mountains standings from Luke Plapp (Ineos Grenadiers) and Sheffield remained top of the junior standings.

Here’s how the race went:

The first duo, Manuele Boaro (Astana Qazaqstan) and Johan Jacobs (Movistar), only broke up almost 40 kilometers after the start from Brighton. Ten kilometers later, UAE Team Emirates tore the peloton in half at the wind limit and also brought the leaders back in stride. 20 eventful kilometers followed before the two fields came together. Meanwhile, Corbin Strong (Israel – Premier Tech) secured the first bonus sprint ahead of Matthews and Bettiol.

Almost 70 kilometers before the finish, Dimitri Gruzdev (Astana Qazaqstan) attacked on the climb to Parawa Hill and secured the category 2 classification in the mountains ahead of Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) and the wearer of the mountain jersey Plapp. But soon after the descent Gruzdev was caught again and from then on the peloton headed up Nettle Hill (2km @ 7.7%) with 22 kilometers to go in a constant fight for position .

Ironically, at the foot of the Category 1 climb, Matthews, who was second overall, was unlucky and lost touch with the frontrunners. At the same time, Vine attacks at the bottom of the climb. He was accompanied on the steepest parts of Nettle Hill by Dennis, Schmid, Simon Yates and Hindley.

Vine won the mountain prize with 21 kilometers to go and took the lead in the mountain standings thanks to the ten points scored there. The quintet worked well after the ridge – with the exception of Yates, who initially just rolled, in reference to his teammate Matthews – and took a 20 second lead before AG2R – Citroën organized the pursuit of captain Ben O’Connor in the reduced peloton. . Matthews but also Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), held back by a fall, were one minute behind the peloton in a group dragged 15 kilometers from the finish.

The reaction from the field came too late

The next tragedy occurred twelve kilometers from the end, when Bettiol, who had been in the lead until then, suddenly stopped on a wave and hit both thighs. The Italian’s cramps were so bad that he couldn’t continue for more than a minute and had to say goodbye to his leader’s jersey.

Meanwhile, the top five extended their lead over Ewan’s peloton and third overall from Sheffield to more than 40 seconds with ten kilometers to go on the final hill before AG2R assistant Dorian Godon finally get the support of Ineos Grenadiers in the peloton. The gap was closing again, but it seemed too late.

There were still 30 seconds left on the clock at the start of the last five flat kilometers and the five leaders could now fight each other – provided they worked together consistently until the end, which they did. By then even Yates had joined the group, as it became clear that Matthews was already out of the overall standings.

Then Hindley launched the first attack into a tight turn and ripped a hole. Dennis closed the gap and immediately passed the Giro winner, only to pull away and secure the win with a few meters lead.

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