Simon Gerrans Sprints to Second in Stirling; Defends Race Lead

Wed 22 Jan 2014

Simon Gerrans held onto the overall race lead on stage two of the Santos Tour Down Under and took a six second time bonus for his second place stage finish behind Italian Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida). Cadel Evans (BMC) finished third, and moves up to fourth overall after taking a four second time bonus.

Gerrans narrowly missed out on his second sprint victory of the race, after Ulissi gained a small gap on the bunch in the final hundred metres and held on to take the win. Gerrans had to be content with gaining a valuable six second time bonus over his general classification rivals.

“It was great to grab a few more seconds there, finishing second,” said Gerrans. “But hats off to Ulissi, he timed that perfectly. He got the jump on us with a bit over 100 metres to go, and we couldn’t quite catch him again.”

“I’m definitely satisfied with getting time bonuses,” Gerrans added. “It would have been nice to get another stage win today, but you can’t win them all.”

With Gerrans in possession of the ochre leader’s jersey going into stage two, ORICA-GreenEDGE maintained a constant presence on the front of the bunch in an effort to control the race for their leader. They shared the workload with Lotto-Belisol, who worked to keep the race together for a sprint.

“Today was potentially a very dangerous day to defend,” said White. “There were a couple of challenging climbs- One Tree Hill and Checker Hill- and a solid final on the circuits in Stirling. A small break went away so we didn’t have to waste too much energy. We still had to control the race all day, but we did it with Durbo and Gossy and we let the break dangle out there with a gap of about two or three minutes, until we hit the circuits.”

The 150-kilometre stage wound through the familiar South Australian towns of Prospect and Hahndorf, before finishing with two laps of the Stirling street circuit. Despite narrowly missing out on a second stage win from two starts at this year’s Santos Tour Down Under, White maintained that the team is satisfied with the result today.

“The goal was to try and win with Gerro and extend our buffer on the other GC challengers. We did that with everyone except Ulissi, so it was a good result and we’re in a very good position still.”

The team’s defence of the ochre leader’s jersey means they will face another difficult day of controlling again tomorrow. Riders will tackle the gruelling Corkscrew climb for only the second time in the race’s history and it is on those slopes that White expects to see the biggest challenges of the Tour.

“Tomorrow is probably the most critical day of the race,” confirmed White. “With the climbs being so close to the finish, you can win and lose the Tour just over that climb and on the short downhill to the finish. We fully expect climbers like Cadel (Evans) and Richie (Porte) to try and gap Gerro tomorrow and put as much time into him as possible, because it will be much harder to drop him on Willunga. If anyone is going to put Gerro under pressure, it will be on the Corkscrew tomorrow.”

Going into stage three, ORICA-GreenEDGE will focus their energy on protecting Gerrans’s lead and limiting any possible damage, and White is confident that the squad is up to the challenge.

“We’ve got another day of defending tomorrow, but the guys are up for it. We haven’t had to waste too much energy the past two days, Durbo has done a bit of work but he’s more than capable of managing the workload. Michael Matthews crashed in the final today, but he’s fine and I’m 100 percent confident that they can control it again tomorrow.”