Adelaide - Britain's Geraint Thomas launched an
audacious attack on Corkscrew Hill then outsprinted his rivals to
record a brilliant win in the second stage of the Tour Down Under
Thomas, who won gold in the team pursuit at the London
Olympics, broke clear halfway up Corkscrew Hill five kilometres from the
finish line and was too strong in the closing stages, taking both the
stage win and the overall lead in the season-opening WorldTour race.
The 26-year-old said he had been training hard heading into the new season, using London teammate Bradley Wiggins as motivation.
what Brad did (at the Tour de France) last year has definitely given me
the confidence to really push on on the road," Thomas said after
winning the stage in 2hr 44min 18sec.
Thomas took the field by surprise when he attacked on Corkscrew.
he was caught by three other riders on the downhill run to the finish
line, he attacked again 400 metres from home to claim the 116.5km stage
from Mt Barker to Rostrevor.
Spaniard Javier Moreno from Movistar
was second with Radioshack Leopard's Belgian rider Ben Hermans third,
both a second behind Thomas.
Thomas also took over the ochre
jersey as outright leader from Andre Greipel, the big German sprinter
finishing more than six minutes back.
Thomas said afterwards he had been determined not to suffer a let down after claiming gold in the team pursuit in London.
soon as I finished the Olympics I was straight back on the road," he
said. "I wanted to start the year strong and that's what I've done --
it's definitely a nice reward for all the hard work over winter."
road race champion Philippe Gilbert's chances of overall victory are
all but gone after he was involved in a crash soon after getting over
The Belgian was not badly hurt, but he limped home two
minutes and 49 seconds behind the leaders. Frenchman Arnaud Courteille
and Giovanni Visconti of Italy were taken to hospital for assessment
following the crash, but no riders were seriously injured.
year's champion, Australia's Simon Gerrans, conceded his hopes of
defending the title were also gone after losing contact with the leading
group and finishing 2min 36sec behind Thomas.
Thomas said he was worried he had attacked too early on the 2.4km climb up Corkscrew.
one point I did think perhaps I'd gone a bit early, got a bit keen up
that climb, but I managed to just hang on over the top and fortunately
there was another little group behind and we worked really well
together," he said.
"I just took a bit of a run at them and hit
them with 400-350 metres to go. I knew it was a fast finish and I just
gave it everything."
The Welshman was quietly confident of hanging
on to the lead, although he conceded Thursday's stage from Unley to
Stirling would not be easy.
"Tomorrow's a tough stage, it's a hard
start so potentially there could be a strong group go away which would
be pretty dangerous," he said.
"But we've got a strong team, we're just going to try and defend it tomorrow and if we do that it will be a real step forward."
Thursday's 139km stage starts in inner-city Unley and finishes with an uphill sprint into the town of Stirling.
Results from the 116.5km second stage of the UCI WorldTour Tour Down Under from Mt Barker to Rostrevor Wednesday:
Geraint Thomas (GBR/SKY) 2hr 44min 18sec, 2. Javier Moreno (ESP/MOV) at
01 seconds, 3. Ben Hermans (BEL/RLT) s.t., 4. Tom Jelte Slagter
(NED/BLA) at 04, 5. Tim Wellens (BEL/LTB) s.t., 6. Daniele Pietropolli
(ITA/LAM) s.t., 7. Jack Bauer (NZL/GRS) s.t., 8. Wilco Kelderman
(NED/BLA) s.t. 9. Jon Izagirre (ESP/EUS) s.t., 10. George Bennett
61. Simon Gerrans (AUS/OGE) 2min
36sec., 71. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/BMC) 2min 49., 93. Andre Greipel
(GER/LTB) 6min 14sec, 98. Andy Schleck (LUX/RLT) 6min 19sec
Geraint Thomas (GBR/SKY) 6hr 19min 32sec, 2. Javier Moreno (ESP/MOV) at
05 seconds, 3. Ben Hermans (BEL/RLT) at 07, 4. Daniele Pietropolli
(ITA/LAM) at 14, 5. Tom Jelte Slagter (NED/BLA) s.t., 6. Jon Izagirre
(ESP/EUS) s.t., 7. Gorka Izagirre (ESP/EUS) s.t., 8. Tim Wellens
(BEL/LTB) s.t., 9. Jack Bauer (NZL/GRS) s.t., 10. Tiago Machado
46. Simon Gerrans (AUS/OGE) at 2min
43sec, 61. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/BMC) 2min 56sec, 85. Andre Greipel
(GER/LTB) 6min 14sec, 103. Andy Schleck (LUX/RLT) 7min 48sec