Bilbao make amends to Campbelltown and win

Tour Down Under: Vine new leader of the general classification

By Felix Mattis


Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) narrowly beat Simon Yates (Jayco – AlUla) in the sprint at Campbelltown. | Photo: Cor Vos

01/20/2023 | (rsn) – Two days after Phil Bauhaus, Pello Bilbao secured Bahrain Victorious’ second WorldTour victory of the season. The Basque sprinted ahead of Simon Yates (Jayco – AlUla) and Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates). Vine took the overall lead.

The trio had corkscrewed each other with just over six kilometers to go and finally came back 28 seconds to the finish line of the first chase field, in which Michael Matthews (Jayco – AlUla) sprinted to the fourth place and Maximilian Schachmann (Bora – hansgrohe ) was would be twelfth.

Vine now leads 15 seconds ahead of Bilbao and 16 seconds ahead of Yates in the battle for the ocher jersey. Magnus Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers) is 45 seconds behind in fourth ahead of Mauro Schmid (Soudal – Quick-Step / +0:46) and Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers / +0:50). Schachmann is also twelfth overall (+1:01) – along with Marc Hirschi (UAE Team Emirates), who is in eleventh place.

“We were a bit disappointed yesterday as the race didn’t go as we had hoped and we lost some important seconds. But today was ideal for me with the steep climb and the fast descent until to the finish line,” said Bilbao, who climbed in a corkscrew. initially couldn’t keep up when Vine and Yates attacked, but managed to close in on the duo just short of the mountain classification.

“At first I had to keep up my pace. But on the last few meters it flattened out, they took something out the front and I rolled,” Bilbao said. “In the end, it was clear to me that I had a good chance of winning. Both were looking more at the classification and I at the sprint and the victory of the day.”

Vine just kept track of time

Just how keen Vine was aiming for the overall victory became particularly clear in the final kilometre: the Australian led a real lead for his two companions to get as far ahead of his pursuers as possible. He was well aware that he would have no chance in the sprint against Bilbao and Yates. Bilbao then accelerated 250 yards from the line and Yates followed in the wake, but could no longer pass.

“Obviously I wanted to win the stage, but that’s how it is: Bilbao is a little faster than me. I tried to push him past me and challenge his sprint early so I could get out of the draft. can’t get enough,” Yates described during the finale.

While Vine, Yates and Bilbao were clearly the strongest on the hill and the Aussie took the overall lead, Matthews also impressed at the end. After losing more than two minutes to a fault the day before, the Aussie proved in Campbelltown why he was previously seen as one of the favorites to take the overall win.

Matthews’ consolation prize on Friday was to take the lead in the points standings in addition to fourth place on the stage. Vine defended the mountain classification with his attack on the Corkscrew climb, but the jersey will be worn by Mikkel Honoré (EF Education – EasyPost) on Saturday. Sheffield is still the best young driver.

Here’s how the race went:

After only four kilometers, an attack by Honoré, followed by Fabio Felline (Astana Qazaqstan), form the breakaway duo of the day. The Dane won the first Category 2 hill climb soon after, while Felline secured the two intermediate sprints. In the meantime, the duo took a lead of up to 4:30 minutes, but in the second half of the race the peloton started to close the gap very early.

At 35 kilometers from the finish, Honoré left his companion on the climb to Checker Hill (Cat. 1) and Felline was caught by the peloton. But the Dane still overtook the mountain prize and temporarily took the lead in the mountain standings. Somewhat surprisingly, Ineos duo Ethan Hayter and Geraint Thomas had trouble on the two-kilometre-long, 6.3% steep mountain.

But the two quickly came back and 25 kilometers from the finish, Honoré was in front. The peloton rushed along the so-called Kangaroo Creek – led first by Ineos Grenadiers, later by UAE Team Emirates and AG2R – Citroën – lined up on a slightly sloping and winding road towards the decisive climb of Corkscrew . Corbin Strong (Israel – Premier Tech), fifth overall, fell 20 kilometers from the finish. His team-mate Chris Froome waited and then went full throttle for his New Zealand team-mate, but the peloton was too fast to catch up.

The peloton finally entered the 2.4km corkscrew (Cat 1 / 8.9%) and UAE Team Emirates pushed the pace so high that the leader of the general Rohan Dennis (Jumbo – Visma) was already in the lower sections of the climb had trouble – with most of the other drivers. Marc Hirschi (UAE Team Emirates) led the peloton up the steepest ramps and set up what everyone was waiting for: the Vine attack 6.4km from the finish.

Yates obviously stuck to the rear wheel of the Australian time trial champion with no problems, but was initially the only one who could keep up with him. 600 meters later, Bilbao managed to catch up shortly before the mountain classification and the three began the 5.7 kilometer descent to the day’s destination.

Behind them a sextet formed, in which Hirschi and Schmid also sat, and which eventually grew to 27 men. But the pursuers didn’t close in on the front on the descent, where the top three went full throttle together. Vine led the group to the final mile and drove a real lead there for his two companions.

250 meters before the finish line, Bilbao started to sprint and Yates held back. But even though the 30-year-old Briton moved a few centimeters closer, the Spaniard, three years his senior, ended up cheering.

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