Australia clean sweeps Tour Down Under Stage 3

Source: TDU Website

It was an all Australian day on the Tour Down Under today with Queensland’s Allan Davis (Australia-UniSA) claiming stage three honours and Mark Renshaw (AUS – Credit Agricole) wresting back the overall lead in the event.

Davis, who is the only rider to have contested all ten Tour Down Under events, has been close in every stage so far with fourth place on Stage 1 and third yesterday, but today he proved unbeatable as he powered clear in a furious final sprint. He crossed the line in a time of 3hr13min49sec holding off Renshaw and Canberra’s Mathew Hayman (Rabobank) who finished second and third for an Australian cleansweep of the podium.

“The win was a great relief, but I just want to thank UniSA,” said Davis. “We had Wes (Sulzberger) in the break all day which made our job pretty easy behind him and then the boys did a great job in the last four kilometres.”

Franciase des Jeux rider Philippe Gilbert (BEL) had launched an attack in the final kilometre gaining a slender lead but Davis countered to thunder past and claim the win in front of a huge crowd of cheering fans. Around 70 thousand turned out today in mild, sunny conditions to support the riders all the way from Unley to Victor Harbor.

“I probably started my sprint earlier than I would have liked, at about 350m out, but I thought if I can get to 50m out I would be all right, and I looked between my legs and there was no one there,” said Davis. “It was just great to get a win today.”

Davis gathered ten bonus seconds towards his overall time while behind him Renshaw collected a six second bonus to move him back on top of the overall classification. He now leads by two seconds to Davis with German Andre Greipel (Team High Road) sitting third and Sydney’s Graeme Brown (Rabobank) fourth, both four six seconds off Renshaw’s time.

Renshaw was lucky to contest the sprint after a rear wheel puncture earlier in the stage but three of his Credit Agricole team mates waited to pace him back into the peloton.

“We started hitting some little climbs and dead roads and I got caught down the back and it made it a lot harder to get back to the front,” said Renshaw. “Once I got up there it took me probably 10 or 15km to recover and then I was right for the sprint.

“I had Jeremy (Hunt) and Simon (Gerrans) looking after me but we had a little bit of a mix-up on the last corner and Jeremy got caught on the wrong side of the road and I ended up being by myself,” explained Renshaw. “I launched the sprint from a fair way out and just missed Alan … a bit of a disappointment but it’s great to know the form’s there.”

131 starters headed out of the Adelaide suburb of Unley this morning for a 13 kilometre neutralised ride to the official race start in Sturt. From there the race headed out to South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula and it seemed the riders were in a hurry to get there because as soon as the flag dropped the attacks began. Several small groups tried to break away but it wasn’t until the 18 kilometre mark that a trio of riders managed to break clear.

Mickhael Delage (FRA – Francaise des Jeux), Kjell Carlstrom (FIN – Liquigas) and Tasmanian Wesley Sulzberger (Australia – UniSA) forged a cartel in front and by the ‘South Australia – A Brilliant Blend’ king of the mountain sprint at Sellick’s Hill (43.7km) were five minutes clear. Delage scored the points ahead of Carlstrom and Sulzberger with Philippe Gilbert (BEL – Francaise des Jeux) leading the peloton over the summit to score six points and increase his lead in the climber’s classification.

Through the first SA Lotteries Sprint of the day at Mt Compass (66.7km) it was again Delage ahead of Carlstrom and Sulzberger with the trio’s lead now nearing the six minute mark. At 92 kilometres the three leaders hit the Goolwa sprint where once again Delage picked up the points and bonus seconds followed by Carlstrom and Sulzberger.

But when the peloton hit the same mark it roared into action and began the chase. Twenty kilometres from home the peloton had snatched back three minutes and while the three, who had toiled in front for so long, pedalled furiously over the twisting approach into Victor Harbor still hopeful of holding off the bunch, it wasn’t to be, and five kilometres from the line their bid for glory ended.

The final kilometre into Victor Harbor included a sharp right hander at 800 metres followed by a sharp left hand turn 600 metres from home with the lead out men for the gun sprinters leading their charges safely through to the finishing straight before moving aside to let them fight it out to the line.

Tomorrow the fourth stage takes the riders over 134 kilometres from the Murray River town of Mannum to Strathalbyn.

Belgian Philippe Gilbert (Francaise des Jeux) still leads the ‘South Australia – A Brilliant Blend’ King of the Mountains classification, Renshaw is leading the SA Lotteries Sprint classification but as he will wear the tour leader’s jersey tomorrow Allan Davis, running second on sprint points, will wear the green jersey. Jose Rojas (ESP – Caisse d’Epargne) leads the Share the Road Best Young Rider classification and Team High Road is ranked at the top of the Bartercard Teams Classification. The Hindmarsh Most Aggressive rider jersey for today’s stage was presented to Mickhael Delage (Francaise des Jeux).


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