Kiwi Bennett involved in crucial Tour break

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 17:00 23/01/2013

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Welsh rider Geraint Thomas has ridden his way into the ochre jersey after winning the second stage of the Tour Down Under this afternoon.

The Team Sky rider was part of a four-man breakaway which included New Zealander George Bennett (Radioshack Leopard Trek), Spain's Javier Moreno and Belgium rider Ben Hermans, who managed to get away after the infamous ''Corkscrew'' climb which had been included in the race for the first time.

Topping out at 15 percent gradient, and averaging 9 percent overall, the four hair-pin climb proved crucial to the 116.5km stage from Mt Barker to Rostrevor as Bennett looked to attack off the front of the peloton.

He was joined and then passed by Thomas as a crash which involved about 15 riders, including world champion Phillippe Gilbert and Matthew Lloyd, sent the race into disarray.

The four-strong breakaway was chased by a large group but managed to hold them off to contest the sprint.

Thomas leapt away early from fourth wheel and had too much power for his rivals, crossing the line with enough time to celebrate the victory. He now has an unofficial 4sec lead over Moreno, with Hermans at 7sec.

Earler in the day, Team UniSA sent a rider up the road early in a repeat of Tuesday's opening stage and the prologue on Sunday night.

Calvin Watson, who won the recent Herald Sun Tour, was joined by 2012 Tour Down Under stage winner and fellow Australian William Clarke, Frenchman Guillaume Bonnafond and Danish rider Christopher Juul-Jensen.

The break held at about 2min for the majority of the stage, but was caught as the climbing started with about 20km to go.Tomorrow's 139km third stage from Unley to Stirling, the halfway point in the race, is expected to be crucial to the outcome.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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