Article submitted by twitter user @cyclingbolar

Stage 2: Unley to Stirling – 148.6km/h

A nice win from Greipel making it a great start to the Tour Down Under for these previews. Hope you were on him.

So we look at stage two. The famous Stirling stage is back with 4 loops of a tough little circuit. Before we look at the contenders, lets look at the history of this stage.

2016: (4 Loops) 1. Jay McCarthy 2. Diego Ulissi 3. Rohan Dennis
2015: (3 Loops) 1. Juan Jose Lobato 2. Daryl Impey 3. Gorka Izagirre
2014: (3 Loops) 1. Diego Ulissi 2. Simon Gerrans 3. Cadel Evans
2013: (6 Loops) 1. Tom-Jelte Slagter 2. Matthew Goss 3. Philippe Gilbert
2012: (3 Loops) 1. Will Clarke 2. Michael Matthews 3. Simon Gerrans
2011: (3 Loops) 1. Michael Matthews 2. Andrew Greipel 3. Matthew Goss
2010: (3 Loops) 1. Manuel Cardoso 2. Alejandro Valverde 3. Cadel Evans
2009: (3 Loops) 1. Allan Davis 2. Graeme Brown 3. Michael Elmiger

As you can see, apart from 2012 where Will Clarke won solo, this has always come down to a group finish. In 2016 this had 4 loops where McCarthy won the stage. Juan Jose Lobato who won in 2015 was 6th so he did finish with them. This favours a sprinter that can climb as well as a punchier rider.

You can rule out guys like Andre Greipel, Sam Bennett, Elia Viviani etc.

This is tailor-made for Peter Sagan. He won the People’s Choice Classic and had good speed to come through to take third on stage 1. With that said, bonus seconds are of vital importance so Bora-Hansgrohe should really be riding for Jay McCarthy. Even though Sunday’s race doesn’t count to UCI World Tour standings, Bora already have their win with Sagan, so they now should focus on the overall with Jay.

Caleb Ewan may be able to survive this with the form he is in, but I have a feeling that Mitchelton-Scott will be riding for Daryl Impey who is capable to take the win here as he was 2nd in 2015.

Diego Ulissi is a previous winner of this stage and is fast enough to contend here.

Nathan Haas mixed it up with the sprinters today and he is in good form and he has a good kick. He is faster than McCarthy and Ulissi and is a great shout.

Hard to see what BMC will do here. There’s a logical thing they should do though. Porte can’t match it against Haas, McCarthy and Ulissi when it comes to sprinting so their best bet would be have Porte finish safely in the bunch and have Simon Gerrans go for the stage victory to deny some of Porte’s competitors the bonus seconds. Defence is better than attack in this situation.

Dimension Data will be riding for Tom-Jelte Slagter to get a second victory here. For him though, he isn’t fast enough against these riders so I can’t see him winning. He may squeeze onto the podium if he finds luck, but I’m not so sure about that.

Bahrain are protecting Pozzovivo this week but this isn’t a finish that suits him. They are better off having Gorka Izagirre go for the win as he was third here previously.

Astana have two guys in Luis Leon Sanchez and Michael Valgren that can contend on this stage. Valgren is their best bet after his podium in the Amstel Gold Race two years ago.

Team Lotto NL Jumbo have Enrico Battaglin that could do well here. Robert Gesink and George Bennett don’t have the necessary kick to win. Battaglin could be a good defensive card to deny their rivals bonus seconds.

Movistar are protecting Ruben Fernandez this week. There’s too much competition for him to get on the podium, so they will look to Jasha Sutterlin or Carlos Barbero to perhaps pick up bonus seconds.

Prediction

As mentioned the teams with GC riders that don’t have a kick will want to use other riders to take the bonus seconds off riders like McCarthy and Haas. This stage boils down what Bora-Hansgrohe do. If they ride for Sagan, he wins. If they ride for McCarthy, then it’s wide open. Logic says the latter because you can’t be on even time as Porte heading into Willunga. You must assume that Porte will ride away and win the stage like he has in previous years, so you need to pick up the bonus seconds to have a bit of an advantage ahead of a rider like Porte.

So if you bet on this race, its your personal preference what you do. If you think they lead out Sagan, no one is beating him in that case. If you don’t think they are, then having Sagan lead McCarthy out gives him a top chance to win this stage and therefore, I think he will. But watch out for Nathan Haas. With Jhonatan Restrepo leading him out, he is a major player.

  1. Jay McCarthy
  2. Nathan Haas
  3. Daryl Impey
  4. Diego Ulissi
  5. Michael Valgren

Best Bets

Odds taken from Unibet

Jay McCarthy $5/$1.90
Daryl Impey top 3 $5.50
Jasha Sutterlin $81/$19

Impey over Ulissi @ $2.70
Costa over Restrepo @ $2.20

Best Roughie

Jasha Sutterlin $81/$19