Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Swift avoids carnage to clinch victory as McEwan takes overal lead on Day 2

Following a crash-marred stage, Sky rider Ben Swift took a victory ahead of rivals Robbie McEwan (RadioShack) and Graeme Brown (Rabobank). The longest stage of this year’s tour over 146km from Tailem Bend to Mannum marked the first time the race had crossed the Murray River. Early attacks were immediately shut down, but it was Yuriy Krivtsov (Ag2r), quickly joined by David Tanner (SaxoBank SunGard) and Mitchell Docker (Uni-SA) who got away from the main bunch, the trio building up an advantage that reached three and a half minutes. This was soon nailed back down to just under two and a half minutes, however, as the riders reached the first sprint point of the day, which was taken out by Tanner.

With the peloton reaching the only king of the mountains climb on the stage, and the break within ninety seconds, Luke Roberts (Uni-SA) broke free from to claim more points in the classification. Picking up fourth place, he was joined by Simon Zahner and Timothy Roe (BMC) and the trio caught the three up the road.

HTC-Highroad and Omega Pharma-Lotto started to control the peloton, keeping the time gap to around forty–five seconds. With Luke Roberts reaching his objective and defending his jersey, he dropped back to the peloton.

Team Sky led the peloton in the final four kilometres but as they heading into a tricky corner some of their riders came down,bring more riders with them including yesterdays victor Goss, and race favourites Cavendish and Greipel. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) benefited and got a small gap on the peloton as Astana assumed control of the peloton. Rojas’s move didn’t last long as an Astana charged peloton absorbed him with two kilometres to go.

In a frantic dash to the line with Garmin-Cervelo leading the peloton, another crash occurred involving Cameron and Travis Meyer and Julian Dean (Garmin) and Bernie Sulzberger (Uni-SA) among others. In the end it was Swift who avoided the crashes best to take the victory.

Following the stage, tensions flared as riders made their feelings about the finish known. The most vocal of these was Robbie McEwan: "You'd think this road was covered in this fine gravel," . "We just had no traction.

"It was pretty ordinary and it was dangerous and then really treacherous."

Race organisers were quick to fire back at these remarks, defending the stage. "They crashed on a new stretch of road 4km out from the finish line," race director Mike Turtur said.

"You always race to the conditions and from what I've been told one rider came in too fast and crashed into (Chris) Sutton and he took out Cavendish.

"Near the finish line it was a typical peloton sprint crash. And this is the safest race in the world.
"There is no way we'd be putting on a race that would cause any danger to the peloton. All the riders have been warned of the potential dangers through the manual. If they want a billiard table (it's unrealistic). There seemed to be a lot of speed and they were taking chances."

Picture source: AdelaideNow

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