Sliding in the sand sun tour peloton divided as stage 2 is neutralised cyclingtips gas bloating nausea

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BUNINYONG, Australia (CT) – It was a bizarre scene. With only half the stage completed nearly 100 riders stopped, turned around, and started riding back the way they came. The convoy stopped, riders headed to their respective team cars, and an impromptu lunch break took place.

In the lead-up to the tour, officials had been made aware of roadworks scheduled for a section of the stage 2 race route. The roadworks were supposed to be happening after the Tour but, as race organisers would discover, they’d begun — but not been completed — before stage 2.

Organisers scrambled to find a way around the roadworks, eventually settling on a deviation that featured a 7km stretch of unsealed road. As chief commissaire Greg Griffiths told CyclingTips, the condition of that gravel road wasn’t as good as had initially been hoped.

“I was following the main peloton and riders with great skill were having difficulty even travelling forward,” Griffiths said. “We had riders spread over one kilometre — I don’t think it was sporting that the race continued so I neutralised it.

Even with the race neutralised riders in the peloton skidded and swerved on the soft, sandy surface, some panic-unclipping as they tried to remain upright. The bunch split into many groups, leaving many to wonder what might have happened had the race been allowed to continue.

“It was a safe decision to neutralise it because I almost did have a near miss,” said von Hoff, who now sits second overall. “But that’s kind of the fun of it — everyone’s in the same boat. But it isn’t a cyclocross race so it was a good call.”

“I would have enjoyed racing full-gas from there to the finish so I’m really really sad we neutralised it,” he said. “We had the front as a team, we had Trek[-Segafredo] with us like yesterday. If we would have raced from there we would have been 10 guys left at the finish just like yesterday and I’m sure I would have been there.”

“It wasn’t dangerous,” he said. “There were some soft patches but as long as you just straight-lined them you were fine. I imagine some of the riders haven’t tried racing a road bike on dirt before — we do it a lot in Denmark so I was used to it.”

James Whelan (KordaMentha-Australia) attacked hard, getting away on his own, before being joined by Nathan Earle (Israel Cycling Academy). The pair crested the climb together, but were soon swept up by a reduced peloton as they began the largely downhill run to the finish.

“I was in the wheel of Koen de Kort from the top of the climb and he just did a four-kilometre lead out [for] me onto the last 300 metres,” Pedersen said. “I wouldn’t say it was easy, but for me it is — I have to stay in the wheel of Koen and then just have to switch on the brain and then sprint for 250 metres.”

Pedersen’s sprint saw him edge out von Hoff who was second across the line for a second-straight day. Australian champion Alex Edmondson (Mitchelton-Scott) was third over the same finish line he crossed to win his national title nearly a month earlier.

Aqua Blue will have no shortage of challengers, not least from Mitchelton-Scott who have former winner Cameron Meyer (third overall) and defending champion Damien Howson (sixth overall) within 16 seconds, with Esteban Chaves another 30 seconds behind.