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VICTOR HARBOR, Australia (VN) — Rohan Dennis (Jumbo-Visma) powered away from an elite group of five to win stage 2 at the Santos Tour Down Under in an aggressive day of racing.
Dennis also surged into the overall lead in a big drama day filled with plot twists at the Tour Down Under.
The race blew up on a steep climb when Jay Vine (UAE Emirates) attacked with 22km to go in the 154.8km second stage from Brighton to Victor Harbor.
A leading quintet formed behind Vine that included Dennis, Jai Hindley (Bora Hansgrohe), Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla), and Mauro Schmid (Soudal Quick-Step).
“That was a lot of work,” Dennis said. “I tried to get across, from there I was hoping that Yates wouldn’t attack. All’s well that ends well.
“I didn’t expect it to go to the line,” Dennis said. “It was a bit of a tricky run-in as well, and it make it hard for the group to control it.”
Pre-race favorite Michael Matthews (Jayco-AlUla) dropped his chain right at the base of the decisive climb with about 22km to go.
The mishap came at the worse possible moment for Matthews, who was chipping away at the leader’s jersey with time bonuses.
Vine jumped, and Yates covered the move. Hindley, Schmid, and Dennis bridged across to create the leading fivesome.
Sheffield hangs on for third
Overnight leader Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost) was also gapped on the climb, and later blew up on the chase. It appeared that he might have had a mechanical, but instead was suffering from cramps.
The Italian angrily tossed water bottles into the ditch as the lead disappeared up the road. Early reports suggest he was no penalized or disqualified for the tantrum.
American rider Magnus Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers) shook off a crash Wednesday, but couldn’t follow the searing pace of the leading riders.
Ineos teammate Luke Plapp helped drive a chase over a final climb with 7km to go to narrow the gap to 30 seconds. The difference was down to 20 second with 4km, and it was 11 seconds at the line as Caleb Ewan led the way.
Matthews’ bad luck opened the door for Dennis and a chance for the lead.
“We knew Simon wasn’t going to work,” Dennis said. “It was unfortunate we were not able to test ourselves against ‘Bling,’ and it’s never nice to take time off someone with a technical. I was just glad to make it to the line.”
Dennis moves into the lead, with Vine now second, and Sheffield remaining in third.
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