As is customary for a stage start in a desert-like landscape, attacks were happening for at leat two hours in the cross-winds and open highway climbs that greeted the riders today. As I had imagined, none of these ambitions proved a success, as all contenders and teams were switched on and willing to snap on to groups gaining what small advantages they could achieve.
Although the field had split and re-grouped on countless occasions, once it reached the plateau and then slowly descended toward the finish, all riders were together and able to once again engage in a sprint, which saw Andre Greipel (Team High Road) once again take out the stage. Jamming a huge gear down the right hand barriers, nobody was able to sustain a similar output leaving this mega-man with his third victory this week. Impressive.
Less impressive was the downfall of Aussie Matty Hayman, who was unfortunately subjected to Elia Rigotto's sprint attempt. Sadly Matty sustained numerous injuries, at this point looking to include a busted collar bone. As is known though, in certain sprint scenarios the boys pull out their whole arsenal of movements, which in this case resulted in Rigotto being disqualified from the race. Nobody, including the sprinters, aim to have such an incident and I wish Matty the quickest of recoveries.
After the onslaught of aggression today, it's quite obvious there'll be some serious movements in tomorrow's stage, especially on Willunga. It's fair to say that, although the entire stage remains quite demanding of course, all energies will be conserved in order to destroy the field on the final climb.
Read the entire Matt Lloyd diary here.