Stage 2 of the 2020 Tour Down Under was a sobering affair, the riders rolling through communities devastated by the recent bushfire crisis.
Blackened landscapes were briefly coloured as the peloton passed through, and the strong scent of charred country that permeated the air was a constant reminder of the infernos that ravaged the region just weeks ago.
Riders, fans and spectators paid tribute to Country Fire Service crews, volunteers and community members as the pro peloton passed ruined houses, sheds and other blackened infrastructure. Ridge Road near Woodside was one of the worst affected areas, the sound of chainsaws was briefly drowned out by the passing parade and peloton as the break and bunch hurtled by.
Fast forward 90 minutes and the riders were close to the iconic Tour town of Stirling as order started to take shape up front. The peloton was nervous and twitchy prior to two crashes within the final 15 minutes of racing – the first minor, the second more serious. A number of riders came down within 3km to go with Mitchelton Scott’s Simon Yates suffering a serious cut to the left knee and Italian sprint star Elia Viviani losing a lot of skin before eventually limping to the line. Both teams will announce the condition of their star riders in the morning.
Up ahead Caleb Ewan did what he does best, the nuggety Aussie timing his sprint to perfection to cross the line ahead of Mitchelton-Scott’s Daryl Impey and Cofidis rider Nathan Haas.
“My team spoke about it for a while last night, we saw what we could do better and we implemented that plan today,” he said, after missing the Stage 1 sprint but making amends on Stage 2.
“The team did a perfect job for me and I got to the sprint with fresh legs … I was able to (put in) a good sprint.”
Not only winner of the stage, Caleb Ewan is now overall leader of the race.
Asked by commentator Dave Mackenzie if he can hold the coveted jersey after Thursday’s Stage 3, the first climbing stage, Caleb offered an honest answer.
“No,” he said with a laugh.
Bicycling Australia’s Coverage Of The 2020 Tour Down Under Continues With Stage 3 From Unley To Paracombe. Follow Our Website And Socials For The Latest Action.