2023 Santos Tour Down Under Stage 2 Race Report

How the race finished

Alex Manly (Team Jayco-Alula) sprinted to the win in Stage 2 of the Santos Tour Down Under, after a select group caught Amanda Spratt (Trek-Segafredo) who attacked up the backside of Mountt Lofty just before the line. Georgia Williams (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) and Nina Buijsman (Human Powered Health) completed the fast finishing podium. Alex Manly takes the race lead, and will wear the ochre jersey on the final stage tomorrow.

Full results are available below.

How it happened

Leaving Birdwood for a relatively short 90km stage that would climb up the backside of Mount Lofty, the attacks came thick and fast. Despite many teams being keen to get a rider up the road before the stage really went uphill, none of the attacks were allowed to stick. After many kilometres of attacking the peloton settled down, a short lull before the efforts that would come. 

Approaching the first intermediate sprint, FDJ-Suez and Trek-Segafredo lined up side by side at the front, keen to be in charge of who would take the sprint and with it, the precious bonus seconds. Ruby Roseman-Gannon (Team Jayco-AlUla) came storming up the outside with Alex Manly on her wheel. Manly opened up her sprint first, but Ilaria Sanguineti (Trek-Segafredo) had significant speed, slingshotting herself up around the other side and pushing on to take the points. In her wheel, Grace Brown (FDJ-Suez) took 2 bonus seconds which could be crucial in the overall General Classification.

While everyone was trying to catch their breath, Lauretta Hanson pushed on over the top, trying to get a gap. Claire Steels and Gladyl Verhulst were attentive to the move, and ultimately it all came back together.

With 51 km to go the peloton headed on to North Ridge, and the road began to go up towards the first QOM of the day. Trek-Segafredo again formed a strong lead out as the riders fought for position into the tight right hand bend that marked the beginning of the climb. With the colours of EF Education-TIBCO-SVB and Israel Premier Tech Roland visible at the front, Trek-Segafredo’s Brodie Chapman set a strong pace up the climb. Approaching the top, Gladys Verhulst (FDJ-Suez) wound it up, jumping away in the hopes of picking up the points across the line and extending her lead in the QOM classification. Claire Steels (Israel Premier-Tech Roland) also had her eye on the points, holding her wheel to the line but not quite able to find a way around.

With things briefly settling down, the peloton wound through the low lying Adeleide hills. Sensing an opportunity, Debora Silvestri (Zaaf Cycling Team) put in a big attack, finding herself solo with 37 km to go. With a break established for the first time in the day, Human Powered Health came to the front to control the time gap and protect the ochre leaders jersey on the shoulders of Daria Pikulik.

Rylee Mcmullen of the New Zealand Team also jumped away, working her way across the gap steadily. Behind, as the peloton hit an unclassified climb, a chasing group led by Georgie Howe of Team Jayco-AlUla slipped off the front of the peloton. The group quickly absorbed the two riders of the front, and suddenly a larger break of around twelve riders formed. All the big-name teams were present, including Nina Buijsman of the leaders team, Human Powered Health, alongside some of the local names we saw in the break yesterday.

As the road went uphill again, Brodie Chapman launched a move from the peloton, but Georgia Williams (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) and Loes Adegeest (FDJ-Suez) were quick to mark her. The group at the front appeared to be losing cohesion, with teams reviewing their race strategies and riders starting to feel the accumulating efforts in their legs. Claire Steels (Israel Premier Tech Roland) took the opportunity to attack from the break, quickly building a gap.

As the road went uphill once again Claire Steels continued at a strong pace out front, showing no signs of tiring. Behind, Trek-Segafredo once again piled on the pressure and strung the peloton. The change in pace quickly swept up the breakaway riders, but still Claire Steels held her gap out front. On the uphill slopes with about 23 km remaining to race, Brodie Chapman (Trek-Segafredo) upped the pace again, getting a small gap with  Victoria Guilamn (FDJ-Suez) which was quickly neutralised. GC leader Daria Pikulik was one of many who couldn’t hold the pace.

At the road twisted through the undulating hillside, EF Education-TIBCO-SVB were very active at the front. Abi Smith and Lauren Stephens worked as a pair, launching repeated attacks that kept the now reduced peloton strung out and the pace high. With about 14km to go before they hit the final climb, Lauretta Hanson (Trek-Segafredo) put in a big turn to finally bring Claire Steels back into touching distance. Brodie Chapman took over, bringing the peloton across the Steels as the road kicked up. Chapman held her high tempo all the way up the climb, with Alex Manly in her wheel and the peloton stretching out behind. 

In the last kilometre of the climb, where the gradient picked up to over 10%, Amanda Spratt jumped out of the wheels, putting in a searing attack and quickly getting a gap. Alex Manly and Grace Brown tried to close it down, but Spratt’s power on the steep slopes was too much. Spratt was solo across the top of the climb, settling into a steady pace to ride her way home.

Behind, Manly had been reabsorbed into the bunch, but Grace Brown was left alone in the gap. Her teammate Loes Adegeest made a brilliant move to jump clear of the chasers and come across to Grace Brown, the pair hoping to work as a duo to get across to Spratt. That move ignited the chasing bunch, and EF Education-TIBCO-SVB and Team Jayco AlUla both putting in the effort to bring the duo from FDJ-Suez back. A small lull allowed a few more riders to come back, with the chasing bunch numbering about 20 riders. Eugénie Duval and Victorie Guilman came through to work on the front for FDJ-Suez. Through the rolling countryside Spratt stayed just out of sight, but the gap was slowly closing.

With 2 km to the finish the chasers finally had Spratt in their sights. Rachel Neylan launched an attack to try to jump across, but it was neutralised and the pressure went out of the chase slightly. Then Ruby Roseman-Gannon launched for Team Jayco-AlUla, forcing Grace Brown to close the gap and allowing Alex Manly to follow the wheels.

Looking over her shoulder and seeing heartbreak coming, Spratt was finally caught with around one kilometre to go. Abi Smith hit the front for EF Education-TIBCO-SVB  with teammate Georgia Williams in her wheel, leading out for the finish. Through the final corner Alex Manly was able to find an opening and come up the inside, powering away to take the win. Georgia Williams sprinted to second place, with Nina Buijsman (Human Powered Health) coming in third. Manly takes the lead in the General Classification, with Georgia Williams and Grace Brown both hot on her heels at 8 seconds. 


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