Stage 2 of the Michelton Bay Cycling Classic saw an impressive crowd turn out to cheer on the riders, and the racers returned the favour, putting on a fabulous display of attacking racing. With Caleb Ewan wearing the leader?s jersey after an imperious win the day before, the expectant crowd were waiting for the pint-sized Ewan to explode to another victory, but as the race played out, it became apparent that it wouldn?t just be plain sailing for Ewan and Orica-Greenedge.
The bad luck kicked off for the World Tour squad with a mechanical that immediately eliminated Luke Durbridge, and then the attacks came thick and fast off the front. The initial moves never gained a big advantage, but kept the pace high and the peloton strung out. Eventually Jason LEA (PhysioHealth Focus) managed to get a decent advantage, but the solo move was never likely last long, despite the strength he showed to hold the gap for 2-3 laps by himself. Once he was brought back it Nathan Haas (VTwo) on the move, as he tried on numerous occasions to launch the breakaway.
These skirmishes off the front didn?t amount to anything until the major move of the race went, started by Ryan Kavanagh (State of Matter/MAAP) before being joined by a collection of riders from the other teams to form a good mix of representation. That group gained a gap of 20 seconds before an attack from Avanti saw them send Pat Shaw and Pat Lane off the front, where they were promptly joined by the ever-present Nathan Haas. The three worked well together and increased their advantage over both their erstwhile companions and the peloton. The riders stuck in the middle couldn?t decide whose responsibility it was to chase and eventually Alex Edmondson took it upon himself to bridge the gap by himself. He powered across the gap in remarkably quick fashion and at that point, with a lead of 30 seconds looked like it would be hard to pull back.
Drapac went to the front of the peloton to do the heavy lifting, and the combined efforts of Travis Meyer and Peter Koning managed to drag back the escaped quartet, just before the final lap began. This use of the team probably ended up depleting the Drapac leadout for Brenton Jones, but everyone was similarly isolated, as the field had dropped to only 20 riders. As the riders crested the final hill, it was clear that it would be a sprint duel between Ewan and Jones, and the former proved the quicker of the two, with Jones recognising Ewan?s superiority with a gesture as he was consigned to 2nd place. Leigh Howard (Chain Reaction Cycles) was a fast finishing 3rd, with Steele Von Hoff some distance back in 4th. After the race, Peloton Caf? caught up with the man who animated a lot of the race, Nathan Haas.
?It?s just how I race, that why I got signed, because I race aggressive, I race hard. We gave ourselves a chance for a while with that small group, I actually thought for a while that we were going to get it, but obviously I wasn?t really looking. It was a really good hit out, to see where the body is, and it turns out I could go harder than I thought I could so that?s good. I was really unhealthy at the end of last season, and it took a while to come back, so I had to be really careful with my training and not overdo it.?
Haas has switched across to African squad Dimension Data this season and was keen to reignite his career with the squad. ?Yeah it?s brilliant, like a rebirth, I did four great years with Slipstream and it was just time for me to change teams and mix things up. I just wanted to come into this year and have some fun. My objectives are always the one-day races, but the best races in the world are Strade Bianche and Amstel Gold.?
On his prospects in the Australian summer of racing Haas was more reserved, not over committing to stating that he was in top form for the upcoming races. ?I?m here to get a bit of leg speed and then we?ll see how we do in the summer. The Australian stuff, obviously you want to try and if you can get a result it?s great for your confidence if you can take a win.?
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