16 Jan 2023

South Australia’s Alex Manly powered to a historic Singapore Airlines stage 2 win as the Santos Tour Down Under conquered Uraidla after a Birdwood start on Monday.

Manly, 26, is in pole position, eight seconds ahead of Grace Brown from FDJ-SUEZ and Georgia Williams from EF Education-Tibco-SVB after a furious 90km.

“We just had the perfect lead out and yeah I’m so thankful,’’ Manly said.

“To do this in my backyard is just so nice.”

Manly will wear the ochre leader’s jersey on the final women’s Let’s Go stage 3 Adelaide to Campbelltown on Tuesday.

She bumped Sunday’s ochre Tour Down Under leader Daria Pikulik out of the prestigious jersey after a brilliant tactical performance from her team Jayco-AlUla.

Amanda Spratt from Trek Segafredo opening a 15-second gap with just 3.5km before the Uraidla finish line was an ominous sign for her rivals.

However, Manly’s team’s stunning lead-out work vetoed Spratt’s hopes of a stage win.

Spratt, a three-time Santos Tour Down Under champion, was engulfed by Jayco-AlUla and rival teams Trek-Segrafredo and FDJ-SUEZ but Manly did have concerns that her former teammate could have been too strong at the Uraidla finish line.

“I knew that (final) part of the road is always painful even when you go on a training ride,’’ Manly said.

“So, I just tried to make sure I had the momentum and of course, Spratty was going to take the opportunity to attack.

“I tried to go (catch her) but I just didn’t have the same legs as Spratty on the climb.

“I guess me being there (at the front of the race) forced the others to chase a bit and then I knew the descent and we tried to bridge back some time there.”    

However, Manly’s team appeared intent to wrestle the ochre from Pikulik from the off after the Pole’s stunning Ziptrak Stage 1 victory at Snapper Point Aldinga.

Pikulik was well protected by her Human Powered Health teammates but appeared to be out of contention long before Manly’s victory.

Italy’s Ilaria Sanguineti from Trek-Segafredo beat the bunch to the first prize of the day – the Ziptrak preme sprint in front of the Kersbrook Town Hall at 34.5km.

The peloton settled into a rhythm before another short queen of the mountain challenge.     

FDJ SUEZ’s Gladys Verhulst claimed consecutive efex Queen of the Mountain wins after earning the polka-dot jersey on Sunday.

Verhulst conquered North East Ridge, Chain of Ponds at 40.5km before the race was marred by a crash when Team Australia’s Nicole Frain – the 2022 national road champion - and Emily Watts from Team Bridgelane touched wheels.

Frain returned to the race, but Watts needed medical attention after hitting the tarmac hard about 30km from the Uraidla finish line.  

With 20km before Manly's fireworks, Georgie Howe from Jayco AlUla marked most of the moves at the front of the peloton as teammates Amber Pate and Ruby Roseman-Gannon worked furiously in 31C heat.

Claire Steels from Israel Premier Tech then picked up three bonus seconds crossing the line first in the second Ziptrak preme sprint at Summertown, before the grand finale.

With a little more than 10km before Uraidla, reigning national road champion Brodie Chapman from Trek-Segafredo was driving the peloton hard before the second Queen of the Mountain prize at the top of Mount Lofty.

However, Spratt, 35, claimed the Queen of the Mountain title and will wear the jersey for stage 3.


The Santos Tour Down Under is part of the UCI World Tour

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