Rohan Dennis wins stage two of Tour Down Under & race lead

Rohan Dennis Tour Down Under 2023 Stage 2

On a rolling stage, Rohan Dennis snuck away from a lead group, including big names like Jay Vine, Simon Yates and Jai Hindley to take the stage victory and the GC lead thanks to the bonus seconds as well. Mauro Schmid was the other rider in the lead group of 5 heading under the flamme rouge on Stage 2. Jai Hindley, the 2022 Giro d’Italia winner, was the first to attack the quintet but Rohan Dennis was able to counter-attack and press home the advantage to the finish line. Vine, Schmid and Yates finished on the same time 2 seconds behind Dennis, whereas Hindley was 5 seconds back. The chasing bunch came in 11 seconds behind Rohan Dennis.

Caleb Ewan was the first of the bunch to make it to the finish. On another day he might have been the stage winner here if the catch had been made sooner. Michael Matthews was the big loser of the day, however, suffering a mechanical in the form of a dropped chain at an inopportune moment. He rolled in over 2 minutes behind Rohan Dennis and sees any shot of the GC battle over now surely. Matthews wasn’t happy when crossing the finish line, contesting that Magnus Sheffield’s movement caused his chain to drop. From the replays, it looked like Sheffield got bumped into Matthews. However, that didn’t stop Matthews from saying there was a lack of respect in the bunch. Almost certainly piqued by the age gap between the two riders.

“I was in great position, the team rode really good all day, got two really good intermediate sprints, some time back there on the GC guys, and we came to the final climb, and I don’t know what is happening with cycling these days, there’s no respect in the bunch.

I was in a great position, got hit from one side, hit from the other side, dropped my chain, it got stuck in between the frame and the front crank, I couldn’t get it out. I was lucky I had a few guys up front to help me out and try and claw back as much time as I could but it was pretty over.” 

Michael Matthews
Michael Matthews

Before the mechanical, Matthews had been active in the intermediate sprints to gain bonus seconds. He closed up to within 4 seconds of Stage 1’s GC leader Alberto Bettiol on the virtual standings mid-stage. It wasn’t a happy day for Bettiol either. He finished in the same group as Matthews after suffering from cramps. He also threw a bidon in the direction of a photographer who was trying to get a shot of the former Tour of Flanders winner whilst stationary and in pain.

“Unfortunately, I think he dropped his chain on that climb. There was a rider that bumped into me, and he happened to be right beside me and I think there was a bit of touching of wheels. I immediately apologised after the finish line. It’s really unfortunate that this is part of cycling and the racing. It wasn’t my intention at all. I really just tried to apologise and be up-front with him.” 

Magnus Sheffield

Jay Vine made the most of Matthews’ mechanical by attacking on the lower slopes of the final climb around 20km from the finish. Simon Yates was able to bridge but was a weight on the front group. He didn’t work as the goal was to mark it in case his team leader could make it back. Only with 4km to race did the Brit start to contribute.

“I didn’t do nationals, one, I couldn’t be bothered and, two, I wanted to concentrate purely on this instead. It’s a little bit of a different training lead-up. This is more, as we saw, punchy, whereas TTing is consistent power and a few spikes here and there. I wasn’t expecting to go away on that final climb and stay away.

I think we did something similar in 2018 and it all came back together but it was also a bigger group, and no one really wanted to work, so I didn’t want to risk Jay and Yates going away. That’s a bit too risky for me, I think, so I had to bust my arse a little bit to get over that climb.” 

Rohan Dennis

Dennis leads Vine by 3 seconds in the GC, with Sheffield in third place 12 seconds off the pace, Schmid is 13 seconds in arrears and Corbin Strong (Israel Premier-Tech) and Hugo Page (Intermarche-Circus-Wanty) are 14 seconds back. 

Tour Down Under stage two results

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