• Jay McCarthy from Tinkhoff wins ahead Diego Ulissi during the stage 2 of the Tour Down Under (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff) lunged over the line to win Stage 2 of the Santos Tour Down Under on a day that was dominated by a long solo break by fellow Queenslander, Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal).
By
Cycling Central

Source:
Cycling Central
20 Jan 2016 - 3:42 PM  UPDATED 23 Jan 2016 - 6:54 PM

Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) finished in second, while last year's overall winner, Rohan Dennis (BMC) rounded out the podium in third.

The 132km second stage of the Santos Tour Down Under took riders from Unley, not far from Adelaide's CBD, to Stirling, where five laps of a 21km circuit would decide the day's victor.

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Hansen broke away from the bunch in the first of the five laps. His lead extended out above the two minute mark before being reduced to 55 seconds as the peloton behind him ramped up their speed to contest the first of the day's two sprints. 

While Hansen's position up the road saw him claim the biggest points for the sprint, Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) was the best of the rest, followed by race leader and team-mate, Caleb Ewan. 

Hansen continued to ride his own personal time trial out the front and extended his lead to over two minutes and 30 seconds while Orica-GreenEDGE patiently controlled the peloton from behind. 

Toward the end of the fourth lap of the Stirling circuit, BMC took to the front of the chase reducing Hansen's lead to 55 seconds with 24km to go.

While Hansen never slowed down, the peloton sped up making for a tense final lap. The catch came at 18.9km to go.

With the race now anyone's to win, the pace picked up further as riders prepared for the final, uphill eight kilometres of the stage. One by one, teams took to the front attempting to position their climbers for the win and to wear out the legs of any sprinters who were strong enough to hold on to speeds of 41km an hour up the climb.

A crash with less than a kilometre to go took down several of the remaining contenders including Orica-GreenEDGE's Gerrans and Daryl Impey. Teams Tinkoff and Cannondale seized the opportunity and drove hard at the front.

After almost three and a half hours in the saddle, 23-year-old Jay McCarthy opened his sprint early and narrowly held off the charging Ulissi to take his first pro win and the ochre overall leader's jersey.

"I was in really good shape and everyone at Tinkoff was hoping I’d get my chance on this stage. I’m glad I could deliver for them," said McCarthy, who had the win in his sights from the outset.

"I had the chance to go for the GC this week as well," he said, already focused on the stages ahead. "It’s great to come out and get the victory today, but my week’s not finished, so now I have to go back recover, and hopefully prepare for tomorrow’s stage over the corkscrew."

"It’s a great win for Jay,” said Sean Yates, sports director for Tinkoff. “We knew he was in good shape, after he was fifth at the Australian nationals, and we worked for him today.

“It’s his first WorldTour win, so it’s a big day for him.

“We now have the lead, and we are not just going to say, OK, we’ve won a stage, we’re happy. We know that BMC and Orica are the teams here racing for the victory, and we can try to use that to our advantage.”

Orica-GreenEDGE have confirmed that Gerrans and Impey were not seriously injured in the crash. They finished on the same time as the rest of the peloton as the crash happened within the final kilometre of the stage.

“It’s a shame to lose time bonuses, because a second counts for a lot in this race," said Gerrans.

"Two of the times that I won they’ve come down to placings, so it’s a shame I lose some seconds to Dennis.

“All was not lost, because I don’t think I stuck my nose out into the wind more than a few minutes all day. The team did a great job protecting me."

Tomorrow's third stage is 139km and starts on the South Australian coast in Glenelg. After the infamous Corkscrew Road climb, riders will take on a fast descent before a tight turn toward to the stage finish in Campbelltown.