Santos Tour Down Under: Diego Ulissi edges leader Simon Gerrans to stage two victory
Last Updated: 22/01/14 12:26pm
Diego Ulissi: Moved himself into contention with an impressive victory
Diego Ulissi emerged victorious on stage two at the Santos Tour Down Under after winning the sprint into Stirling.
The Italian Lampre-Merida rider timed his kick to perfection on the right-hand side of the road to surprise a number of more established fast finishers.
Race leader Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) hesitated momentarily in the final metres but still proved equal to the task, claiming more bonus seconds as he finished second, just off the wheel of Ulissi.
The result saw the Australian national champion open out his overall advantage to seven seconds over his new rival, with Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) a further four seconds adrift after failing to influence the sprint.
Cadel Evans kicked hard but the BMC Racing rider had to be content with third place on the day.
Team Sky's Geraint Thomas was among a number of riders to be held up by a late crash inside 3km to go, with the Welshman ultimately earning the same finishing time as the peloton, placing him 17 seconds off Gerrans overall.
Gerrans said afterwards: "It was great to grab a few more seconds there, finishing second. But hats off to Ulissi, he timed that perfectly. He got the jump on us with a bit over 100m to go, and we couldn't quite catch him again.
"I'm definitely satisfied with getting time bonuses. It would have been nice to get another stage win today, but you can't win them all."
A breakaway proved more difficult to instigate than the day before, but 10km into the 150km stage, three men headed clear out of Prospect, ensuring no bonus seconds were on offer to the general classification contenders at the day's intermediate sprints.
Campbell Flakemore (Uni-SA), William Clarke (Drapac Cycling) and Boy van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing) combined out front, but again were not allowed more than three minutes by an attentive field.
With Gerrans taking an early race lead on Tuesday, his Orica-GreenEdge team set about controlling the day, although the escapees were only caught after Team Sky injected fresh pace into the peloton late on.
Greipel punctured at the worst-possible time as the speed went up heading towards Stirling, and despite the German sprinter quickly chasing back on, his frustrating race continued as he could only muster 19th at the line.
Ulissi had no such trouble and duly held off Gerrans as he continued his strong start to the race.
Stage two result
1 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida, 3:52:14
2 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-Green-Edge, same time
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC, st
4 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana, st
5 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin, st
6 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky, st
7 Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC, st
8 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing, st
9 Javier Moreno (Spa) Movistar, st
10 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge, st
70 Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky, st
1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge, 7:12:31
2 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida, +7sec
3 Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol, +11
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC, +13
5 Steele von Hoff (Aus) Garmin-Sharp, same time
6 Simon Geschke (Ger) Giant-Shimano, +16
7 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana, +17
8 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin, st
9 Maxime Bouet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
10 Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky, st
16 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky, +21
Every stage of the Santos Tour Down Under is being screened live on Sky Sports. Click here for full schedules