Bevin Sprints to Tour Down Under Stage Two Victory and Race Lead
Patrick Bevin continued his strong start to the season by sprinting to his first WorldTour stage win on stage two of the Santos Tour Down Under, which saw the New Zealander move into the race lead
Bevin, who became the New Zealand national time trial champion two weeks ago, made the most of a chaotic and crash-marred finale to launch his sprint with perfect timing at 150 meters to go and deliver CCC Team’s first WorldTour win of the season.
With ten bonus seconds from his stage win, in addition to five bonus seconds from stage one, Bevin now leads the Santos Tour Down Under by five seconds over Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step), and nine seconds over Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) with four stages remaining.
The sprint finish came after a relatively quiet day for Bevin and his CCC Team teammates after a three-rider breakaway went clear in the early kilometers and continued to hover around two minutes ahead.
The peloton pulled the breakaway back inside the final 50 kilometers, of the 122-kilometer stage, which allowed Matthieu Ladagnous (Groupama-FDJ) to launch a solo attack in the closing 30 kilometers.
After delaying the catch, the peloton eventually brought Ladagnous back three kilometers from the finish line in Angaston but a large crash in the final kilometer disrupted the sprint trains and allowed Bevin to chase down Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana Pro Team), who was the first rider to launch his sprint.
Bevin’s kick and speed were unable to be matched from the sprinters behind and as he crossed the line, Bevin raised his hands in triumph to celebrate the biggest win of his career to date.
VIDEO: Novatech Stage 2 Finish
Congratulations, Paddy! How does it feel to win your first WorldTour stage?
“It’s my first WorldTour win. It’s huge. WorldTour wins are so hard to come by. I wouldn’t have put money on it being a sprint like that. I’ve been working so hard on my time trialing to take my career that way. It’s amazing. In the last few years we haven’t had sprinters and then we were third, and close, yesterday and today to win it sets a precedent for this team. Like I said here yesterday when I was most aggressive rider, we are going to fight for everything we can get. This [CCC Team] is a revamped outfit with a totally different mindset, totally different goals, and we want to give it everything we have. I love the Tour Down Under. It’s always been a great race for me.”
Talk us through that final sprint.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve had a good run in a bunch sprint but I’ve done a lot of work in the off season on my time trialling, with the power simplifying what I was doing. Obviously, it’s working as I was floating around that finish thinking I’ve got some legs here. The team was riding for Jakub Mareczko and I had a free role. But, chasing GC here you have to stay up there and not lose time. We knew it was a tough finish and because the stage was so easy, it was on for the last five kilometers when it was full gas. Coming into two kilometers to go I got myself in a really good position and I put myself on the shoulder and as that crash happened, I came around. [Luis Leon] Sanchez went off the front and I thought I would just go and try and use him as a springboard off the front. Straight sprinting I wasn’t going to be able to beat those guys but I had to capitalize on how hard it was.”
You came here looking for a good General Classification result and you’re already in the race lead. How are you feeling about the rest of the race?
“It’s a long week from here. We have had the two easy days so we’ll look at tomorrow. Tomorrow is tough. It’s my fourth time at the Santos Tour Down Under and I think it’s the toughest stage I’ve ever done. Leading the race changes the tactics a bit, you absorb a bit more pressure, but I feel like we are in a great position to box on in the next four stages.”
Jackson Stewart, Sports Director:
“Paddy has been working hard and knocking on the door for a result like this for a while so it’s great to see it become a reality for him. It’s a great feeling for the whole team. We started the season with a new title sponsor, new colors, a lot of new faces, so this is a fantastic way to kick the season off for CCC Team. We came here to win a stage and to win one already is huge, and now Paddy is in a great position for the General Classification. I think we are meeting and beating our expectations and if we can keep going with this morale and momentum, then it will be a great race for us.
“We’re really happy with the race so far. We came here hoping to be competitive in the GC and where we could do well in the sprints, and we’ve already done well in both. We reconned the finish earlier this week and we took Paddy out of the train and protected him from losing time. He took the opportunity today and went for it, and he found himself ahead of that crash. We took five seconds yesterday, and that was the plan, but today was a bonus. Now we have the jersey, but we have the team for it. It changes our strategy a bit and tomorrow will shake things out quite a bit.”