Simon Gerrans moves to second overall at Santos Tour Down UnderThu 23 Jan 2014
Cadel Evans (BMC) showed why he is Australia’s most decorated road cyclist, with a dominant performance on stage three of the Santos Tour Down Under. Evans attacked on the final climb of the day and stayed away to take the stage win and the overall lead. Simon Gerrans finished fifth on the stage, and now sits in second place overall, 12 seconds down on Evans. Australian Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp) sprinted to second place in Campbelltown, with Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) rounding out the podium in third.
Evans launched the winning attack at the foot of the Corkscrew climb, and soloed away to take the stage victory and a ten second time bonus for the win. Simon Gerrans and Richie Porte (Sky) swapped off in pursuit of Evans over the top of the Corkscrew and on the steep descent of the climb, and were quickly joined by a chase group of 12 riders, including Gerrans's teammate Daryl Impey. Despite chasing hard, the group finished 15 seconds behind Evans, with Gerrans fifth and Impey in ninth. ORICA-GreenEDGE had followed their plan of trying to control and limit the damage for Gerrans on the climb, and were content with their efforts.
“Everything went as planned today, except for the last part of the climb,” said Sport Director Matt White. “The guys controlled the race well. We knew it would be a battle on the Corkscrew- it is the hardest climb of the Tour. Nothing went wrong for us. Gerro was super today; he just wasn’t good enough to match Cadel over the top.”
After taking the Ochre leader’s jersey on stage one of this year’s Santos Tour Down Under, the team had hoped to have the manpower to hang on to the overall for the duration of the week. Despite Gerrans conceding 12 seconds to Evans today, ORICA-GreenEDGE remains optimistic about their general classification chances.
“We obviously would have liked to have kept the jersey,” said White. “We’ve got a little bit of work to do now to get those 12 seconds back, but we’ve also got a couple more stages left to do it and there are plenty of time bonuses available out on the road and in the finishes. Gerro is in super form and the guys are supporting him really well, so it’s not over yet.”
The team will now focus their attention on tomorrow’s flat but unpredictable stage into Victor Harbor, and target a repeat win on Saturday’s Queen stage in Willunga. Gerrans won last year on the same circuit around the wineries of McLaren Vale, and the multiple ascents of the punchy Willunga Hill makes this an ideal stage for the in-form Victorian.
“If we want to win the Tour we have to win on Willunga,” White added. “There’s no other option, so that’s a big goal for us. We’ll just take it day by day. Tomorrow is one for the sprinters, but there will be a few surprises between now and the weekend. We’re expecting this one to go down to the wire”