2nd place for Basque allrounder from Movistar Team atop Paracombe, behind superior Richie Porte (BMC) after strong duo attacks through Torrens Hill Road's slopes. Big break by Jasha Sütterlin, named day's Most Fighting rider
The Movistar Team started showing on Wednesday at the Tour Down Under how determined their riders are to begin shining and be consistent right from the very first UCI WorldTour event of the season. At stage two of the Australian stagerace – first mountain-top finish in Paracombe, following a very lumpy 148km from Stirling's opening circuit – the squad directed by José Luis Arrieta kept the front for almost the entire route. Early on, with Jasha Sütterlin's 80km solo break, which got him to the day's podium as Best Fighter of the day; then, pushing hard at the front of the field in the run-in towards the Gorge Rd. and Torrens Hill Road climbs; and finally, at the moment of truth with Gorka Izagirre.
The 29-year-old Basque allrounder quickly responded to Richie Porte's (BMC) first acceleration, 1500m from the end, and despite not being able to keep the Tasmanian's furious pace, he managed to remain at an interesting gap behind, together with another top-level name as Esteban Chaves (ORS), whom he bested over the line for 2nd place, 16" behind the winner. Gorka is also sitting second overall (+20"), the GC still wide open bar Porte's performance: the next twenty riders behind him – which include Jesús Herrada, 13th over the line and 20th in the overall standings – are just nine seconds apart.
The Tour Down Under will be looking for two predictable sprint finishes on Thursday (Victor Harbor) and Friday (Campbelltown), before its showdown takes place on Saturday with the double ascent towards Old Willunga Hill.
REACTIONS (courtesy Tour Down Under):
Jasha Sütterlin: “It wasn't exactly part of a team plan that I'd go away solo but nobody went and nobody came across so I ended up alone. I kept going until about 30km before the finish and then I just did my best to hold the wheels in the peloton and help my team-mates. I felt great and this prize will surely help me with morale.”
José Luis Arrieta: “It was a good effort by Gorka, but Porte was stronger today. Porte made one more acceleration and Gorka could not follow but it’s a good sign for the team and we will keep fighting. Willunga is a different climb, but we will race to at least keep the podium.”