Britain: Ardila conquers climbs

Colombia's Mauricio Ardila won Thursday's 172-kilometre second stage of the Tour of Britain and now

Colombia's Mauricio Ardila won Thursday's 172-kilometre second stage of the Tour of Britain and now
It was the queen stage of the race for which the 92 riders lined up in Leeds' Millennium Square, ahead of taking in four major climbs, including the first-category Holme Moss in the Pennines between Manchester and Sheffield, which has featured in both the Kellogg's Tour of Britain and the Leeds Classic in recent years. Wednesday's traffic problems, although not forgotten, were largely avoided, although it was clear at the finish that many riders were still far from happy with the rolling road closure system employed. Ben Day of went out alone just a few kilometres into the stage, and it wasn't until 75 kilometres of the stage were covered that he was joined by Credit Agricole's Eric Leblacher and Chris Baldwin (Navigators). The three riders worked well together, at one point building a maximum lead of 17 minutes over the peloton. On Holme Moss, lined with hundreds of enthusiastic spectators, the peloton finally began to crank up the pace, with a 30-strong group moving away from the rest of the group on the climb to chase the leading trio in earnest. US Postal's Jose Luis Rubiera, an indispensable member of Lance Armstrong's Tour de France team in recent years, began to turn the screw, followed by 2002 Giro d'Italia champion Paolo Savoldelli (T-Mobile). On the final climb of Snake Pass, the accelerations brought a five-man group, made up of CSC's Nicki Sorensen, Nuyens and Ardila, as well as Rubiera and Savoldelli, together. They soon caught Baldwin and Day, and then Leblacher a little further on who had dropped his breakaway companions on the climb. With 40km left to race from the top of Snake Pass, the seven-man group, having dropped Day, worked well to maintain their small advantage over the chasers, and had time to play 'cat and mouse' in the final kilometres. With 500 metres to go, Ardila saw his chance and gave it everything, soloing across the line a couple of bike lengths clear of Nuyens. "Everyone was just looking at each other, so I just went," said Ardila, who came to Europe to ride for an amateur Spanish team in 2001, and turned professional with the Belgian Marlux team the following season. Yesterday's victory was the 25 year old's third as a pro, having also won stages in the Tour of Sweden and the Tour de l'Avenir in France in 2002. Day, despite his efforts, still managed to come home in the second group, 10 seconds down on the leaders, in 24th place, and was happy to have done enough to take the 'King of the Mountains' jersey. "I was out there by myself and just thought I'd go for the mountains jersey, and see how the race panned out after that. I've got the jersey, and I'll try to defend it now," said the 25-year-old Australian. Providing he can recover from his efforts, Day may well be able to defend his lead in the mountains competition with only five third-category climbs, and so relatively few points still on offer, left in the race before Sunday's finish. Friday's third stage takes the riders 192km from Bakewell to Nottingham, with Panaria's Alejandro Alberto Borrajo in the green points jersey, Rodney Green (Barloworld) in the blue intermediate sprints jersey, and Ardila in yellow. Stage two: Leeds-Sheffield 1 Mauricio Ardila (Col) Chocolade Jacques 172.3km in 4.26.26 2 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick Step 0.01 3 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) T-Mobile 4 Eric Leblacher (Fra) Credit Agricole 5 Jose Luis Rubiera (Spa) US Postal 6 Nicki Sorensen (Den) CSC 7 Christopher Baldwin (USA) Navigators 0.03 8 Alejandro Alberto Borrajo (Arg) Panaria 0.10 9 Julian Dean (NZl) Credit Agricole 10 Fernandez Moreno (Spa) Relax-Bodysol Overall standings 1 Mauricio Ardila (Col) Chocolade Jacques 9.27.39 2 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick Step 0.05 3 Eric Leblacher (Fra) Credit Agricole 4 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) T-Mobile 0.07 5 Christopher Baldwin (USA) Navigators 0.09 6 Jose Luis Rubiera (Spa) US Postal 0.11 7 Nicki Sorensen (Den) CSC 8 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Lotto-Domo 0.14 9 Ben Day (Aus) 0.15 10 Alejandro Alberto Borrajo (Arg) Panaria 0.16
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