Allan Davis won a gruelling second stage of the Tour Down Under in Stirling, and also took over the ochre leader?s jersey from last year?s overall winner, Andre Greipel.
The Australian, now signed to Quickstep after a couple of seasons in the wilderness, emerged at the front on the final climb to the finish, with Graeme Brown of Rabobank second in the same time, and Martin Elmiger of AG2R two seconds further back.
Four laps of a 20km finishing circuit completed the 145km stage, with four ascents of the climb to the finish ? later referred to by Lance Armstrong as ?an uphill drag.?
Drag or not, it took its toll, first spelling the end for a three-man breakaway, and on the penultimate lap providing a launch pad for Armstrong, who rode near the front throughout, to attack in the company of young Australian Jack Bobridge.
The 19-year old Bobridge had also been on the attack towards the end of stage one, and Armstrong was full of praise for him at the finish. Their escape was foiled, however, as the peloton ? severely diminished, with a large number dropped ? re-grouped.
Davis proved the best judge of the finish, with big hitters Luis Leon Sanchez of Caisse d?Epargne and Michael Rogers of Team Columbia both attacking and wilting before the line. When the diminutive sprinter launched his effort he was a convincing winner.
?I thought, don?t go before 200m,? said Davis. ?It was hard and uphill. Sanchez attacked with 600 to go, then Rogers hit out and closed the gap; there were still 250 to go, but I thought stuff it, I?m going here.
?I put my head down and just kept looking at the line. Luckily I got there first.?
Armstrong faded a little on the final climb, crossing the line 45th, thirteen seconds down on Davis.
Davis now leads by three seconds over Greipel with Brown up to third.
TOUR DOWN UNDER STAGE TWO: RESULTS
1. Allan Davis (Aus) Quick Step in 3 hours 46 mins 25secs
2. Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank
3. Martin Elmiger (Swi) Ag2r at 2secs
4. Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Saxo Bank
5. George Hincapie (USA) Columbia at 4secs
6. Jose Gil (Spa) Caisse D’Epargne
7. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Lampre
8. Tom Leezer (Ned) Rabobank
9. Mickael Buffaz (Fra) Cofidis
10. Andre Greipel (Ger) Columbia all at same time
OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE TWO
1. Allan Davis (Aus) Quick Step in 7 hours 31 mins 42 secs
2. Andre Greipel (Ger) Columbia at 3secs
3. Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank at 4secs
4. Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Saxo Bank at 8secs
5. Baden Cooke (Aus) UniSA
6. Martin Elmiger (Swi) Ag2r at same time
7. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Lampre at 14secs
8. Jose Gil (Spa) Caisse D’Epargne
9. Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Francaise des Jeux
10. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Slipstream all at same time
Team Columbia protect race leader Andre Greipel
Allan Davis wins the stage and takes the race lead
Tour Down Under stage 2: Video highlights
Tour Down Under stage two photo gallery, by Graham Watson
Watch Tour Down Under stage one
Tour Down Under stage one report
Tour Down Under stage one photo gallery
Cancer Council Classic video highlights
Tour Down Under preview