Steven Caethoeven and Kurt Hovelynck (Chocolade Jacques) finished first and second at the end of stage two of the Tour Down Under in Australia on Thursday thanks to a clever late attack that surprised local hero Stuart O?Grady (CSC).
The tough Aussie had been the driving force of a 14-rider attack during the 150km hilly stage and then went with two other riders on the finishing circuit. They gained 30 seconds but then the Chocolade Jacques team took over, first chasing down the move with two riders and then making a double attack at six hundred metres to go with Carthoeven and Hovelynck. O?Grady tried to respond in the final metres but the Belgian duo had a gap and celebrated a rare double.
?It’s just fantastic so early in the season, it’s a very big win and very important, it gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season,? Caethoeven said.
O?Grady was disappointed to miss out on the stage win but promised his CSC team would be going for overall victory with Lars Bak who is currently third at seven seconds.
“You can break it down any way you want, but at the end of the day, I was in an ‘offensive’ mood from the start, I was a bit disappointed after yesterday and wanted to put a bit of pain on the bunch and try to put the leaders under a bit of pressure,? O?Grady said.
“I did almost everything right, it was just unfortunate to fall upon four guys from the same team in the finish after such a hard day. I’m pretty happy, it was a long-hard day and the form is probably better than I expected, actually. We’re not here to finish third and eighth overall, we’re here to try to win the race, we’re going to do everything we can.”
Stage one winner Karl Menzies (UniSA) kept the overall leader?s jersey and is still one second ahead of Martin Elmiger (AG2R). British riders Jeremy Hunt (Unibet.com) and Geraint Thomas (Barloworld) both finished in the bunch with Menzies, 17 minutes behind Caethoeven.
Friday?s third stage is from Sterling to Victor Harbor.