Italian steals show as Tour heads to hills

CYCLING: Italian Diego Ulissi stole the show in Stirling yesterday, holding off Aussie stars Simon Gerrans and Cadel Evans to claim stage two of the Tour Down Under.

Ulissi, 24, who won a stage of the Giro d'Italia in 2011, said he had been stunned by the amount of support the race had attracted with 110,000 fans staking out places along the 150km route through the Adelaide Hills.

"This is my first time in Australia and I'm amazed by the incredible affection of the fans," the Lampre-Merida team rider said.

"The environment of this race is wonderful."

Gerrans, the newly-crowned Australian road race champion, said he had hoped to back up Tuesday's stage one triumph with another success yesterday, but paid credit to Ulissi (pictured).

"I would have loved to win the stage again today," he said.

"It was close, but I can't win them all.

"It didn't surprise me to be sprinting against Diego Ulissi in such a finale like Stirling.

"He's a classy rider.

"He's obviously a threat for the overall classification."

Gerrans will take a seven-second lead over Ulissi into today's third stage, a testing ride through the inner-city Adelaide shopping precinct of Norwood, and over the notorious Corkscrew Hill before finishing in the suburb of Campbelltown.

German star Andre Greipel sits 11 seconds off the lead in third place, two seconds ahead of the fourth-placed Evans.