The 146km IG Markets Stage 2 was won by
"It's the biggest win of my career, without a doubt, but it all felt a bit unreal to be honest because our plan changed three times in the final four kilometres," said Swift. "Fortunately we were all able to think on our feet though and everything turned out brilliantly."
The result created a deadlock at the top of the standings between Swift, McEwen and overnight leader Tasmanian Matthew Goss (HTC-Highroad) forcing officials to a countback to rank them. The countback adds together the individual stage placings of each rider to break the deadlock which gave McEwen a tally of five, Goss 48 and Swift 65.
The stage went according to script until the final four kilometres when the peloton reached a left hand turn on the approach into Mannum. Someone misjudged the corner and the ensuing crash saw British sprint sensation Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) hit the deck as did defending champion, Andre Greipel and Goss. Greipel and Goss rejoined the main bunch but Cavendish crossed the line bloodied and bruised almost four minutes after the stage winner.
The peloton regrouped for the sprint home but less than
Earlier in the day the riders set out from Tailem Bend in picture perfect conditions. The early kilometres were marked by a flurry of attacks as riders tried to escape for some indvidual glory along the road.
Fifteen kilometres from the start Frenchman Yuriy Krivstov (AG2R la Mondiale) finally managed to break free and soon after was joined by the Australian pair of Mitch Docker (UniSA-Australia) and David Tanner (Saxo Bank - Sungard). The trio had established a three and a half minute lead over the peloton at the
Skoda King of the Mountains leader, Luke Roberts (UniSA-Australia), attacked from the peloton on the climb to capture valuable fourth place points to move to 22 points, a six point lead in the classification.
Chasing Roberts was fellow South Australian Tim Roe (BMC Racing) and
Roberts opted to abandon the lead group and dropped back to the peloton leaving the five in front to contest the second Jayco Sprint at Mt Pleasant (107.8km), where Zahner took the points. Docker's second place moved him to 12 points and the lead in the Jayco Sprint Classification.
In his first race for BMC Roe went on the attack staging a solo break thirty kilmoetres from home. Although his lead stretched out to one and a half minutes, the furious pace set at the front of the peloton by HTC-Highroad, Sky Procycling and Omega Pharma - Lotto meant there was little hope his attack would succeed.
Five kilometres from the finish the race regrouped.
In the final kilometre Sky Procycling's train was all set to deliver Geraint Thomas to the line but when the Welshman fell in the final crash Australian Mathew Hayman delivered Swift to the line instead.
West Australian brothers and Garmin Transitions teammates Cameron and Travis Meyer, were also caught up in the fall, in addition to Geraint Thomas (Sky Procycling), but all will continue the tour.
"I can't believe it. There was just a pile up and it was carnage in the end," said Swift after the race. "I was on the wheel of Mat Hayman and he knows how to avoid the crashes, so I felt so comfortable to follow him. But unfortunately one of our guys did crash, but I could just pick one of the other guys.
"The first crash we lost our sprinter (Thomas) when two riders fell in front of him, so I jumped with 200m to go. Robbie (McEwen) tried to get the jump on me, but I felt brilliant.
"It is great to get the first win of the year, hopefully we can get another win. I will just have to keep the ball rolling," Swift added.
Given the events that unfolded over the final stages of the race, McEwen was relieved that he managed to stay out of trouble and end up on the podium.
"I'm very happy, I have the jersey through consistency, unfortunately guys crashed, that also influenced things," said McEwen. "I was fortunate not to get caught up in it and it's delivered me the jersey, at least for a day. I'm sure otherwise, Greipel and Matt Goss would have been up there in contention for the win, but that's part of bike racing."
And the 38-year-old is looking forward to wearing the ochre leader's jersey for just the second time in his ten Tour starts.
"I may not be in the jersey after tomorrow night because it's a tough finish at
"But being up there is good, it's nice to lead the Tour at least for a day, my aim is still to win a stage," he added.
Graeme Brown was disappointed after finishing so close.
"I felt really good today so I'm a little bit disappointed as I hesitated a bit in the final 200m ," explained the 31-year-old. "I guess it's been a while since I've been at the pointy head of a sprint so I made a little bit of a mistake but Swift was the strongest today."
In the wake of the crashes the Santos Tour Down Under race doctor, Peter Barnes, said several riders required treatment.
Bernard Sulzberger (UniSA-Australia) has a fractured right collar bone and was taken to SA Sportsmed where he is expected to undergo surgery tomorrow to plate it. He has withdrawn from the Tour.
Pieter Weening (NED / Rabobank) sustained lacerations of his right elbow that will require stitches. Chris Sutton (AUS / Sky Procycling) has skin off both knees and elbows. Cameron Meyer and his brother and team mate Travis along with Gerraint Thomas (GBR / SKY Procycling) and David Tanner (AUS / SaxoBank Sungard) have all sustained road rash and skin abrasions.
HTC - Highroad Team Doctor Helge Riepenhof of BUKH hospital in
Frenchman Yuriy Krivtsov (AG2R la Mondiale) was named the Hindmarsh Most Aggressive Rider of the stage.
In tomorrow's Colemans Group Stage 3 Tasmanian Matthew Goss (HTC-Highroad) will wear the Cycle Instead Young Rider U26; South Australian Luke Roberts (UniSA - Australia) maintains his lead in the Skoda King of the Mountain and his team mate Mitchell Docker, from Victoria, will wear the Jayco Sprint jersey. SKY Procycling continues to lead the Brilliant Blend Teams Classification.
Thursday's stage covers