Stage one winner Luke Durbridge maintained his overall race lead at the Santos Festival of Cycling as teammate Kaden Groves sprinted to third on a tough stage two in Lobethal.
A four-rider breakaway edged clear in the opening kilometres with Team BikeExchange assuming their position at the head of the peloton in support of race leader Durbridge. The time gap was kept at a manageable distance throughout the stage before it started to fall rapidly with 30km to go as Tirreno-Adriatico stage winner Lucas Hamilton drove the pace.
The leading quartet were eventually reeled in at the foot of the Fox Creek climb and attacks were soon launched out of the thinning peloton. Luke Plapp (Australia) managed to escape over the top with Durbridge and a number of his Team BikeExchange teammates forming part of a select chase group behind.
The race leader kept a close eye on several counter attacks as he shut down numerous moves on the run into the finish, but Plapp was able to hold off the chasing pack to claim the win, while Groves sprinted to third place from the small chase group.
“It was a hard stage, they really handed it to us, and the boys were really, really good. Lucas Hamilton was on the front all day, he was exceptional, and everyone was around me, looking after me and keeping me watered and fed.
“Luke Plapp did an amazing effort with around 200 metres to go of that climb and we were there but couldn’t do anything about it. I think he knows that climb and that descent, so it was an impressive, so chapeu to him. But yeah, we kept the jersey and we’re fine, so another day.”
Santos Festival of Cycling – Stage 2:
1. Luke Plapp (Australia)
2. Tim Roe (Cervelo-Tonsley Village)
3. Kaden Groves (Team BikeExchange)
Santos Festival of Cycling – GC Stage 2:
1. Luke Durbridge (Team BikeExchange) 5:13:33
2. Luke Plapp (Australia) +02:10
3. Raphael Freiensten (InForm Insight TM Make) +02:28
Photo Courtesy of Tour Down Under.