It hasn’t been the easiest run through the first days of racing at the Santos Tour Down Under for Magnus Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers) and after getting caught up in a crash on the run into the finish line on stage 1 into Tanunda there was some doubt about whether he would even start stage 2.
Though at the end of an explosive day – which included a tense finish line discussion after a touch of wheels with Michael Matthews and racing which left a substantial mark on the GC – Sheffield was still there and still holding firm in third place overall.
“I wasn’t quite sure how I’d feel this morning but I slept really well,” Sheffield said after the stage. “I got to see the doctor. I got my first stitches, but, yeah, I felt pretty good on the ride when I got on the turbo this morning, just to kind of feel it out to see if I’d start the day.”
The 20-year-old did take to the start line in Victor Harbor on a day which was considered likely to come down to a selective sprint, and perhaps offer hints toward the shaping of the GC rather than huge shifts. “I just felt better and better throughout the stage.”
It wasn’t, however, a day of smooth sailing as there were crosswinds and then just as the ascending was starting to kick in on the run-up to the Nettle Hill climb after being bumped by another rider he touched wheels with Matthews – who had been second on GC but dropped his chain and saw his overall hopes disappear. A tense conversation ensued after the finish line, between a clearly frustrated Matthews and Sheffield.
“There was a rider that bumped into me and he [Matthews] happened to be right beside me,” said Sheffield when asked about the conversation that had transpired. “And I think, yeah, there was a bit of touching of wheels.
“I immediately apologised after the finish line. It’s really unfortunate, this is part of cycling and the racing, you know. It wasn’t my intention at all and I really just tried to apologise and be upfront with him.”
It was after that touch of wheels that the race also heated up on that last crucial climb with just over 20km to go. Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates), Mauro Schmid (Soudal-QuickStep), Simon Yates (Jayco AlUla), Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Rohan Dennis (Jumbo-Visma) all took off out the front, working together to hold off the chase behind on the run into the Victor Harbor finish line.
“I wasn’t quite able to hold on to the guys on that climb in the final kilometres,” said Sheffield. “But yeah, I’m happy…