2015 Tour de Korea | Stage 2: Gumi Muju |

Koreans have been quick to throw their support behind Australian Cycling s Boy Wonder Caleb Ewan, thanks in no small part to learning about his Korean roots. Today in Muju, Ewan whose mother is Korean delivered a homecoming victory of sorts, clearly beating Avanti Racing Team s Patrick Bevin and race leader Wouter Wippert (Drapac Pro Cycling).

IMAGES: Aaron Lee (Official Tour de Korea race photographer)
WORDS: Chenthil Mohan (Official Tour de Korea race photojournalist)

It was good to have a bit of a drag race with Wouter and really see where I m at against him and obviously he s been going really well so it was good to get over him said a beaming Ewan, still visibly battle-worn after being tangled up in a crash yesterday. When I woke up I was pretty stiff and sore. Once my body warmed up and we got racing then everything seems to sort of numb and I was feeling alright halfway through the race. It was pretty hard in the end there, but the team did great to keep everything under control. All the little breaks (were) always kept within a few seconds so it was never really a big threat. I was feeling pretty good on the climbs as well.

We re hoping for more stage wins, but it will be interesting to see how the GC pans out. With six riders in each team it s always hard to control the race. I think as long as Drapac and our team can co-operate, we should be able to keep everything in control.

The day started at an aggressive speed with the peloton averaging 60kph for long stretches. The first 40km saw many failed breakaway attempts. At the intermediate sprint classification (48.8km), Avanti Racing Team s Anthony Giacoppo and Neil Van de Ploeg took the first two spots, followed by Nicolas Marini (Nippo Vini Fantini) and Jaeyeon Im of Korea s National Team.

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At 55km, four riders Kazuo Inoue (Bridgestone Anchor Cycling Team), Kihong Yoo (Geumsan Insam Cello), Kyunggu Jang (Korail Cycling Team), Keisukke Kimura (Shimano Racing Team) attacked and steadily started to increase their lead over the main bunch. Kyunggu Jang led through both KOM sections, with the remaining points traded amongst his companions. The break held onto a three-minute advantage over the peloton and, 60km from the finish, Jang started pulling away, gaining a lead of up to a minute.

With 20km remaining, the peloton once again spearheaded by Drapac caught up with the break, leaving Jang as the lone escapee. Jang s hopes of stage victory, if he ever harboured them in the first place, were dashed inside the last 5km and the race ended with a well-oiled ORICA-GreenEDGE sprint train setting Ewan up to win convincingly.

A clearly disappointed Wippert, who retains his yellow leader s jersey by a narrow four seconds, voiced his frustrations at the lack of co-operation within the peloton and gave a clear message about the days ahead.

We worked too hard for third place today , stated Wippert. It took 54km to get the break up the road and then on the hills the Iranians tried to smash it that s what they usually do as everyone knows then it goes really fast and it was hard to follow them. Not even one other team helped us out, so in the end we were a bit less in numbers than the other teams.

We were actually in a perfect position with 600-700m to go and then ORICA-GreenEDGE came along with two guys in front of Ewan and they had way more speed than us. Brownie (Graeme Brown) just waited a bit because there was someone else (blocking) before we could get out. I had to start my sprint at 500m and I came next to Ewan with 200m to go, but he was still sitting on his lead-out and I had already sprinted 300m I had to, because there was nobody in front of me anymore. (ORICA-GreenEDGE) had a gap of a couple of meters, so I had to chase that down and I came up next to (Ewan) and at 150m he started off his lead-out and he s just too fast.

After today we re just going to sit on and watch what the other teams are going to do. I m not even going to (ride to protect the jersey) any more. We re just going to see what happens tomorrow and if it s going to be a bunch sprint, we will be fresh at the finish; if it s not going to be a bunch sprint, someone else has the yellow jersey tomorrow. From stage four on we (will) try to get stage wins again.

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Tuesday s stage 3 is a 99.0km circuit race in Muju, consisting of six laps. The peloton will have to negotiate a two kilometre climb at 5.3% gradient on each lap, with two of those climbs counting towards the KOM classification. One intermediate sprint features at the halfway point. The final kilometer offers a flat, wide and straight run-in to the finish.

LEADERBOARD Race Leader (Yellow jersey): Wouter Wippert (Drapac Pro Cycling) Points Leader (Sky Blue jersey): Wouter Wippert (Drapac Pro Cycling) King of the Mountains Leader (Polka-Dot jersey): Kyunggu Jang (Korail Cycling Team) Best Young Rider (White jersey): Caleb Ewan (ORICA-GreenEDGE)

Best Team: KSPO



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