ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Two-time defending champion Daryl Impey of South Africa snatched the overall lead from Australia's Richie Porte on the penultimate stage of the Tour Down Under cycle race, the first event of the World Tour season.
Impey started Saturday's 141.9 kilometer (88 mile) fifth stage from Glenelg to Victor Harbour three seconds behind Porte on general classification and finished with a brittle 2 second lead after picking up five seconds in time bonus on two intermediate sprints.
The race concludes Sunday with a 151.5 kilometer (94 mile) stage which finishes atop the step Willunga Hill and may suit the tough climber Porte more than Impey.
"It's fantastic to lead the race going into Willunga tomorrow," Impey said. "Two seconds up, I don't think it's enough but we'll know tomorrow but we've given ourselves every chance to win this bike race and it's up to tomorrow."
Saturday's stage, the most eventful of the race so far, was won by Italy's Giacomo Nizzalo to give his South Africa-based NTT team its first win in 2020.
Impey rode a bold stage, targeting the bonus seconds available on the intermediate sprints. He was second on the first sprint, picking up two seconds, and won the second, picking up three seconds, to take the overall lead on the road from Porte.
Impey was 10th and Porte 18th across the finish line, on the same time as the stage winner.
The stage finished a series of breakaways as teams worked to put as much pressure as possible on the race leader.
Impey and Porte were among a group of 10 riders who snatched a break on the final climb up Kirby Hill. If they could stay away, there was a chance of opening up a decisive lead over the rest of the field.
But teams reeled in the leading group within six kilometers of the finish as they dragged the sprinters into the finish. In a tricky finish, riders turned left, then right, then left again on sharp bends before the final straight sprint to the finish line.
Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan, winner of two stages on the tour so far this year, was one of a number of riders shuffled back in the finsh.
Nizzalo made his break at just the right time to hold out compatriot Simone Consonni while the winner of the first stage, Ireland's Sam Bennett came home fast to take third.
"Of course I can't thank my team enough because today they did a great job," Nizzalo said. "That was the plan, if I was a bit dropped they had to wait for me on the climb and they did it perfectly.
And as well they did a perfect lead-out, I was in a perfect place and then I put on the pedals everything I had."
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