Britain’s Ben Swift (Team Sky) has won stage two of the Tour Down Under in Australia, winning the bunch sprint in Mannum.
Only yesterday, Swift was speaking of how he was settling into his role as a lead-out man for Sky sprinters Greg Henderson and Chris Sutton. But as crashes in the final kilometres of Wednesday’s stage reduced the peloton severely, Swift found himself in the ideal position to go for the win.
It’s Swift’s second major victory on the road for Team Sky having won a stage and the overall at the Tour de Picardie last year. It’s also the first major win by a British rider this year.
Robbie McEwen (RadioShack) came second and takes the overall lead after he placed third on the opening stage. Stage one winner Matt Goss (HTC) is second, and Swift moves up into third overall.
Earlier in the stage, Yuriy Krivstov (Ag2r) escaped the bunch after 17km and was quickly joined by David Tanner (Saxo Bank-Sungard) and Mitchell Docker (Uni SA-Australia) to form a three-man break.
The trio were joined by Luke Roberts (Uni SA-Australia), Simon Zahner (BMC) and Timothy Roe (BMC) just after the 64km mark.
Roberts sat up shortly after, leaving five riders to work together. Roe launched a spirited lone attack in the final 30km but was reeled in by the bunch driven by the Sky and HTC-Highroad squads with five kilometres to go. Then the first of two sizeable crashes took out large sections of the peloton.
Those falling victim to crashes included Sky’s Sutton, race leader Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad), Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad), Andre Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), Julian Dean (Garmin-Cervelo), Travis Meyer (Garmin-Cervelo) and Bernard Sulzberger (Uni SA-Australia), who is out of the race after breaking his collarbone.
After picking himself up and dusting himself down, Cavendish came over the line three minutes and 47 seconds behind Swift.
Thursday’s stage three of the 2011 Tour Down Under runs from Unley to Stirling, 129km.The race concludes on Sunday, January 23.
Tour Down Under 2011, stage two: Tailem Bend to Mannum, 146km
1. Ben Swift (GB) Team Sky in 3-27-44
2. Robbie McEwen (Aus) RadioShack
3. Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank
4. Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil
5. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
6. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Quick Step
7. Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank
8. Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Katusha
9. Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar
10. Allan Davis (Aus) Astana all same time
125. Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky at 2-13
130. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad at 3-47
Overall classification after two stages
1. Robbie McEwen (Aus) RadioShack in 6-44-42
2. Matt Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad at same time
3. Ben Swift (GB) Team Sky at same time
4. Andre Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 4secs
5. Mitchell Docker (Aus) Uni SA-Australia at4secs
6. Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank at 6secs
7. David Tanner (Aus) Saxo Bank-Sungard
8. Mathieu Perget (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale at 7secs
9. Miguel Minguez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 7secs
10. Simon Zahner (Swi) BMC Racing Team at 7secs
Early escape group
Timothy Roe launches a solo attack in the final 30km
Swift takes the win ahead of McEwen
Consistency pays off for McEwen as he takes the overall lead
Mark Cavendish nurses some nasty abrasions after crashing
British national champion Geraint Thomas with crash damage
Tour Down Under 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index
Swift settles into Sky’s lead-out role
Cavendish holds fire at Tour Down Under
Cavendish-Greipel duel: Let the fun begin
Sky’s Thomas keeping covered Down Under
Armstrong faces questions on doping investigation and 2009 payments
Armstrong in Adelaide: One more time
Tour Down Under 2011: Who will win?
Tour Down Under 2011: Start list
Farrar heads Garmin-Cervelo’s Down Under assault
Cavendish to face Greipel Down Under with in-form Goss
Cavendish to start 2011 Tour Down Under
Farrar to ride Tour Down Under
Tour Down Under 2011: Stage reports
Stage one: Goss takes TdU opener
Cancer Council Classic: Goss wins Down Under opener after Sky crash