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Santos Tour Down Under. Stage 2. Zakharov in breakaway, crash of Ballerini, 8th place for Sanchez

Stage 2 of the Santos Tour Down Under (122 km from Norwood to Angaston) was full of action for Astana Pro Team. Firstly, Artyom Zakharov made part of a daily breakaway, fighting for the points in the mountain classification and winning the bonus seconds at the intermediate sprints.

In the last straight with 400 meters to go Davide Ballerini had a terrific crash, which did not allow him to take part in the final sprint.

In the end, Luis Leon Sanchez launched a powerful attack with 300 meters to go to try to anticipate the sprint, but finished 8th, being caught in the last 25 meters.

- It was a bad crash, but I did not get any serious injury. In the final we stayed up there in front with Luis Leon Sanchez and I was hoping to do a good sprint, but… The crash ruined all chances. Anyway, the main thing I am ok, really nothing serious. So, I will concentrate on the next days, - said Davide Ballerini.

- The main goal for me today was not to lose any second in the general classification as next days we will have the most decisive stages of the race. In the final I stayed in front for Davide Ballerini, I wanted to try to help him in his sprint. But he crashed, so being still in front I just tried to do something by myself. Yeah, I was caught in the last meters. But, I am happy with my form so far, so we will see in the next days, - said Luis Leon Sanchez.

Despite a crash inside the last kilometer and an attack of Luis Leon Sanchez, the stage ended with a sprint, won by Patrick Bevin ahead of Caleb Ewan and Peter Sagan. Thanks to an active race in the breakaway, the Kazakh rider of Astana Pro Team Artyom Zakharov moved up to 5th place in the general classification, 9 seconds behind the new race leader Patrick Bevin. Besides, Zakharov is 2nd in the mountain classification.

- I tried yesterday, and tried again today to go in a break. This time it worked well. From the first stage my goal was to fight for a mountain jersey, yesterday I took some points, today also. But, at the moment I am still second. In addition, today I wanted to take some bonus seconds, it turned out to take all 6 seconds. This is very good, because I managed to move ahead to the 5th place in the overall classification, now ahead of the decisive stages our car will be among the first. After track competitions I had some difficulties during the first two stages, but I keep on fighting, - said Artyom Zakharov.

- We had a plan to go in a breakaway and Artyom Zakharov was able to move in front of the race, where he took 6 bonus seconds. Now he is in the Top-10 of the overall classification. The break never had too much space, so when we saw the sprinter teams started to chase hard, we asked Zakharov to come back in the group, saving some energy for the upcoming stages. In the final we tried to work for Davide Ballerini, but the things did not play out as we wanted it. Luckily, he did not get really hard injures, - added Lars Michaelsen, the sports director of Astana Pro Team.

Stage 3 of the Santos Tour Down Under will be held tomorrow: 146,2 km from Lobethal to Uraidla.

Photo credit: © Tim De Waele/Getty Images

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