Lobato Del Valle wins 2nd stage of Tour Down Under
ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle came from well back in a bunch finish to win the second stage of the Tour Down Under, rising to second overall behind Australia’s Jack Bobridge on Wednesday.
The Spaniard appeared to have fallen off the pace as riders jostled for position on the uphill sprint to the finish of the 150.5-kilometer (94-mile) stage from Unley in Adelaide’s inner suburbs to Stirling in the Adelaide Hills.
South Africa’s Daryl Impey and Australia’s Nathan Haas forced their way to the front when Lobato Del Valle flashed past them to claim the ninth stage win of his professional career.
Impey was second, two bike lengths behind the winner, and Cadel Evans, the 2011 Tour de France champion riding in his farewell race, finished fourth.
The six-stage Tour Down Under is the first event of the 2015 UCI World Tour, on which Lobato Del Valle’s Movistar team won 34 stages last season.
“It was a very difficult finish for me but I managed to come through it towards the end,” Lobato Del Valle said. “It’s a good victory for the team.
“We always come here with a great team. It’s important for us to do well.”
Wednesday’s stage featured a three-man break involving Australians Cameron Meyer and Campbell Flakemore and Belgium’s Thomas De Gendt, who collected time bonuses on intermediate sprints and opened a maximum lead of around 3 1/2 minutes.
But the peloton learned from its experience in the first stage, which Bobridge won after joining a four-rider break which stayed away, and gave the leading riders less latitude in front.
The leading riders were caught with 25 kilometers (15 miles) to go, and a later break by Danilo Wys of Switzerland and Calvin Watson of Australia was short-lived.
Impey, riding for Australia’s Orica-GreenEDGE team, led out the final sprint strongly but could not hold out Lobato Del Valle.
“Hats off to him. He was just a little too fast for me in the end,” Impey said.
Movistar manager Jose Juis Arrieta said it was a morale-boosting win for them.
“We knew that Lobato was climbing well and that he could put up with the difficulties better than the other sprinters,” he said. “So we knew we would have a good chance today.
“We had a puncture with Lobato with one lap to go so he used a bit of energy to chase back, and we were not sure going into the final sprint how he would react.”