Two becomes 10 for McEwen

Robbie McEwen wins his second consecutive stage at the Tour Down Under, where he has just too much s

Robbie McEwen wins his second consecutive stage at the Tour Down Under, where he has just too much s
PICTURE BY TDWSPORT.COM The carnival-like atmosphere in the furnace that played host to the second stage of the Tour Down Under on Wednesday gave Australian champion Robbie McEwen the fright of his life as he honed in on young Italian Paride Grillo on the way to his second stage win on the race and 10th overall, writes Justin Davis. In a bid to echo the well-established 'Etape du Tour' on the Tour de France, race organisers promoted a fun bike ride over the 150km of rolling terrain between Salisbury and Tanunda in the heart of the Barossa wine valley. In essence, it was a good idea for the 1900 who took part. But it prompted little laughter from the no-nonsense McEwen, who almost sucked the helmet off some poor guy before going on to claim his second stage in as many days, stretch his race lead and his record of stage victories to 10. "We nearly hit some bloke on his bike at 800 metres to go," said McEwen, who, to be fair, in the past has criticised even Tour de France organisers for allowing fans to wave those big green hands in the sprinters' faces. "It's bad enough with the parked cars and then we almost hit a bike tourist who's out for a leisurely ride and he ends up in the bunch." Having trained hard throughout the Aussie summer ahead of his national road title victory last Saturday, McEwen now has a six-second lead over Liberty sprinter Allan Davis, who finished third on the day behind Panaria sprinter Grillo. Riding without lead-out man Henk Vogels after the Australian pulled out on Tuesday night, McEwen explained: "The boys controlled the race, and did the hard miles all day long. Then it was up to me to position myself, without Henk. "I came along the left. I just kept pushing along the left side... and I followed the Panaria guy. I wanted to pass him on the left but he came across to the barriers so I had to brake a little bit, hold back, go back around him and come (through) on the right. So it took me a little bit longer to get around him than I planned for, but I still got the stage." The 22-year-old Grillo, who came second behind Belgian star Tom Boonen on a stage of the Tour of Britain in September, admitted it will take someone special to beat the Aussie champion. "I'm happy with my ride, but I'm disappointed not to have secured the win," said the promising Italian. "But I still lost to a great sprinter. With about 400 metres to go I was leading but I looked back and saw McEwen on my wheel and from then on I knew it would be difficult. He's on a roll right now, and whoever wants to beat him will need luck and hope he has a bad day." Earlier in the day, a four-man break emerged after just 10km and included Laszlo Bodrogi, Irish national champion David O'Loughlin, Aussie David McKenzie and Frenchman Mickael Delage - at 19 the youngest rider in the peloton. They built a five-minute lead and although they were caught in the second half of the race, it reaped benefits for Delage, who is on his first pro outing for Marc Madiot's increasingly cosmopolitan Fdjeux.com team. He picked up the King of the Mountains jersey ahead of McKenzie, and now leads the under-23 classification. A former trackie, it seems he has a healthy sense of humour too. "I was hungry, and I knew that if I attacked early I would get to the feed station quicker." That, he explained, was a joke. More seriously, he added: "I don't like to get bored on the bike, that's why I went so early. But I don't know if I'll manage to keep the jersey. I can't sprint well, and I can't climb well. So we'll see." McEwen, meanwhile, could realistically aim for overall honours, although Cofidis sprinter Stuart O'Grady, a two-time winner of the TDU, is still in it at only 10 seconds down. McEwen commented: "The next four days I'll just keep trying. But if nothing comes of it we've got plenty of alternatives." Stage 2, Salisbury-Tanunda 1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 150km in 3.43.28 (40.27kph) 2 Paride Grillo (Ita) Panaria 3 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros 4 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis 5 Erki Putsep (Est) Ag2r 6 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Fdjeux.com 7 Samuele Marzoli (Ita) Lampre-Caffita 8 Hilton Clarke (Aus) Navigators 9 Giosue Bonomi (Ita) Lampre-Caffita 10 Matthew Rex (Aus) UNISA Overall 1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 4.44.01 2 Davis 0.06 3 Mickael Delage (Fra) Fdjeux.com 0.07 4 David McKenzie (Aus) United Water 5 Grillo 0.08 6 O'Grady 0.10 7 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Crdit Agricole 8 Bonomi 0.12 9 Marzoli Lampre-Caffita 10 Dimitri de Fauw (Bel) Quick Step
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