Gerrans into overall lead with stage three victory at Santos Tour Down UnderThu 21 Jan 2016
Simon Gerrans has taken out an exhilarating finish on stage three at the Santos Tour Down Under to move into the overall lead.
The three-time Tour winner arrived at the finish line in a small group of riders, just outsprinting Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) in a final throw to the line.
"To come away with the stage win and the lead, we couldn't ask for much more than that," Gerrans said. "I came from a fair way back, everyone was pretty hammered after getting over the corkscrew so I’m really thrilled to win it, even by the narrowest of margins."
"This is great. It's been a long time between drinks and I had such a difficult season last year. The guys worked so hard for me yesterday, to miss out (due to a crash) so close to the finish when I was feeling so good was bitterly disappointing for me and the team so to come away 24hours later with a win and now the lead I think everyone will be really happy today."
Two riders went over the corkscrew with a narrow margin as Gerrans timed his effort to bridge across to a chase group that included race leader Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff) and last year's winner Dennis with perfection.
In a fast decent to the finish, the front two groups joined together to round the final right-hand corner with 400metres to go and sprint towards the finish.
"That was super tough going up the corkscrew, there's obviously some really good climbers in the race so I had to time my effort well," the 35-year-old said.
"Really, my teammates set me up perfectly for that final climb. They had me in third position into the corkscrew so it's really thanks to them that I was able to get this result."
ORICA-GreenEDGE sport director Matt White said it was only a matter of time before Gerrans' luck turned around.
“We knew Simon was in super condition,” White said.
“The most impressive thing about all this is how he came back from the Tour de France last year. He could have easily thrown the towel in for the rest of the season but his dedication and persistence through 2015 has set him up for a strong start to the season.”
How it happened:
Touted as the first big general classification day, stage three of the Santos Tour Down Under left Glenelg headed for Campbelltown, via the famous corkscrew climb.
One solo rider - Laurens De Vreese - spent much of the race in front but was shut down ahead of the all-important climb.
A crash split the peloton towards the bottom of the ascent leaving no ORICA-GreenEDGE riders in the front group but the back group recovered to reconnect on the lower slopes of the climb.
Michael Wood (Cannondale) and Sergio Henao (Team Sky) were the strongest over the top but were caught by a small chase group including Gerrans on the decent.
In a long drag to the line, Gerrans pipped Dennis with a throw to the line.
Santos Tour Down Under - Stage 3 Results:
1. Simon Gerrans (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 3:37:34
2. Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) ST
3. Michael Woods (Cannondale) ST
Santos Tour Down Under - GC after Stage 3:
1. Simon Gerrans (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 10:28:12
2. Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff) +0:03
3. Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) +0:05