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Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews.com’s live coverage of Stage3 of the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under.
Today sees the 131-man peloton travel 134.5 kilometres from Unley an ultra-hip inner city suburb in the south of Adelaide to Victor Harbour on the stunning Fleurieu Peninsula.
The journey south from Unley skirts the famous McLaren Vale wine region and the stage, while is certainly one for the sprinters, is highlighted by the Cat. 2 KOM point of Sellicks Hill, with two intermediate sprints en route to the slightly technical finish on the Esplanade.
You can join the conversation today by using the #cyclingnewstdu or tweet to me via @janeaubrey
Seems as though we're still a few minutes away from the 11am local time scheduled start but we can't be too far away...
Awesome... Race radio has just informed us that the race is indeed underway and there's around 4km of the 9.5km of neutral remaining.
Speaking of the neutral zone, there was a rather interesting announcement that went out on race radio a short time ago warning riders not to relieve themselves until the race starts proper.
Apparently there was an "unfortunate incident" yesterday.
Stage 3 is officially underway!
Stage 3 is officially underway!
Four riders have just gone clear of the bunch after a small group of three went off unsuccessfully gaining a maximum of 100m
Correction from race radio... Stuart O'Grady (GreenEdge), Wilco Kelderman (Rabobank), Javier Moreno (Movistar) and Bernie Sulzberger (UniSA) attempted a gap, but were brought back...
However, it seems the three original escapees Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Nissan) and Thomas de Gendt (Vacansoleil) are still on the attack and leading the bunch by 15sec... They've been joined by Matt Brammeier (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)
The gap is now out to 1:40
The gap is going out quickly now, 3:15
Resident weather guru Brett Dutschke has just given me a rundown of the day's conditions and the peloton should be pretty happy today. It's the coolest day of the Tour Down Under however, it's also the windiest...
Gap still growing at 4:20
Back to the forecast and there will be plenty of sunshine for the Unley-to-Victor Harbor stage but the temperature will only be in the low-to-mid 20s. Competitors will be experiencing progressively cooler and windier conditions as they head south from Unley. The temperature will be about 25 degrees from the start to about the 40km mark, just before the climb to Sellicks Hills in 15-to-20km/h head-wind southerlies. From there it will cool down and get windier. When they climb to 300 metres in the Mt Compass area, the temperature will be about 22 degrees and southerly winds will increase to 20-to-30km/h, gusting to about 55km/h at times. On the downwhill run these winds will ease only a little but become a cross-breeze in the Myponga area and also between Mt Compass and Goolwa. For the remaining 45km to Victor Harbor the temperature and wind speed should be fairly constant, at about 23 degrees and 15-to-25km/h, but still with 50km/h gusts.
It's been a while since the Tour Down Under went to Victor Harbour, in fact it was in 2009. Raboabank's Graeme Brown was the man who took the win that day in atrocious conditions out on the road.
Cyclingnews spoke with Brown in Unley and we asked if he rated his own chances today... "It’d be nice wouldn’t it," he suggested. "No, I think for us we’re focussing on the overall. Don’t be surprised to see it split up at the finish, the run in is fast and technical."
The gap is continuing to go out... 5:20 now
No surprises given some of the favourites for today's stage... Rabobank and Lotto Belisol are leading the chase...
While he was taling about today's stage, Graeme Brown made a rather interesting comment.
Michael Matthews is now the team's best-placed rider on GC, 4sec down on the lead of BMC's Martin Kohler. Given it's mere seconds which will win this year's Tour Down Under, it appears as though it's Rabobank's number one sprinter, Mark Renshaw who will be leading out the man known as Bling.
"I don’t know if he’s happy about it, but that’s what we’re doing," Brown said of Renshaw's amended duties... Hmmmmm
Let's take a look at the GC before we get too much further into the day's stage...
1 Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC 8:33:05
2 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol 0:00:02
3 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank 0:00:04
4 Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEDGE 0:00:08
5 Rohan Dennis (Aus) UNI SA - Australia 0:00:09
Gap is now holding at 5:25
#cyclingnewstdu Who's leading the teams classification?
@KyLane Thu, 19th Jan 2012 01:47:26
Here you go!
1 UNI SA - Australia 25:38:49
2 Sky Procycling 0:01:02 with the rest of the peloton bar
18 GreenEDGE 0:06:42
19 Astana 0:07:48
I've had an update come in from Jean-François Quénet on Frederic Guesdon. He's going to remain in hospital until at least tomorrow morning at this stage. That's when he's going to get the wound on his hip cleaned out. Guesdon is also yet to speak on his racing future.
Gap is coming down at little, it's now at 5:15
Thomas De Gendt has taken the chocolates at the one and only KOM point of the day at Sellicks Hill. Brammeier, Bakelants were next
BMC team manager Rik Verbrugge spoke to Cyclingnews this morning about his expectations for the day, with Martin Kohler in ochre: "We expect to lose the jersey today with the time bonuses on offer. The sprint teams will really want a sprint today after missing out yesterday, so we’ll let them control. For Martin, we are thinking about Willunga."
We also caught up with Oscar Freire who might be one to watch come the finish... maybe....
“If the race is hard, I’ll give it a go in the final sprint, but if it’s slow like in the past two days, I won’t even sprint because I’m not yet in such a good shape that I can challenge some or all of the sprinters who are here.”
Gap is going south along with the peloton. Now 4:30
Thomas De Gendt's charge to the top of the KOM will see the mountains classification change hands at the end of the day. De Gendt now has a two-point lead on current jersey holder Will Clarke (UniSA)...
Here's the stats:
1. Thomas de Gendt (Vacansoleil) 12 pts.
2. Will Clarke (UniSA) 10
3. Martin Kohler (BMC) 8
4. Matt Brammeier (Omega Pharma – Quickstep) 6
5: Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Nissan) 4
Yesterday's winner of the very nice pair of Bont Vapours was Adam Hewitt (@hewitta)... I'll have today's question soon... Congratulations Adam!
Slight yo-yo happening. The break has a lead of 4:35
We're getting close to the first intermediate sprint of the day so here's a look at the classification at the end of yesterday's second stage...
1 William Clarke (Aus) UNI SA - Australia 21 pts
2 Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC 20
3 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank 18
4 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol 15
5 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 14
6 Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEDGE 13
7 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ - BigMat 13
8 Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas - Cannondale 12
9 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar 12
10 Daniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan 11
11 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 11
12 Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Procycling 10
13 Oscar Freire (Spa) Katusha 10
14 Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Team Saxo Bank 9
15 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC 9
16 Xavier Florencio Cabrè (Spa) Katusha 8
17 Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Saxo Bank 8
18 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 7
19 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Rabobank 7
20 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin-Barracuda 6
What's the bet we see Andre Greipel wearing the blue sprint jersey at the end of today?
Going down... Gap at 2:50
Marcel Sieberg (Lotto Belisol) will be a key lead out man for Greipel today, he's feeding at the moment.
The chase is on! 2:25
Thomas De Gendt has taken the points again, this time at the first intermediate sprint. Bakelants, and Vorganov followed
Gap at 1:50
Now, Christmas has come and gone but I get to play Santa today with thanks to Bont.
Answer today’s trivia question correctly and you could land yourself a pair of Bont Vapours.
As you know, today the Tour is bound for Victor Harbour. We went there in 2006 as well and it was also Stage 3, but who was the winner?
Tweet to me using the #cyclingnewstdu with the correct answer and I'll pick a winner at random.
Lotto Belisol, Rabobank and GreenEdge are doing the work at the front of the bunch...
Gap at 2:10 as the peloton hits the feed zone
WooHoo...just won a pair of Bont Vapors!!!! #cyclingnewstdu #bontshoes
@hewitta Thu, 19th Jan 2012 02:45:09
Fair to say, Adam is excited... As you would be!
Just so we're clear, the Tour went through Victor Harbour on Stage 3 in 2006...
Gap is now at 1:40
GreenEdge's Matt Goss was the in form sprinter at the 2011 Tour Down Under... Here's how he sees today's finale:
It's going to be super important, because it's going to be windy, to have a good team around you. You are going to see a sprint but it will be one where teams who have got really strong riders around their sprinter. The more you can save through the last 30-40kms and while you've got that team you're out of the wind. It's probably going to be a mad run into the finish with the downhill before you get a swarm of riders so you won't see a big leadout like on the first day.
Gap at 1:10 with RadioShack leading the chase. Could today be a day for Daniele Bennati
Motorbikes have been pulled out of the gap.
De Gendt was again the man when it came to the second sprint of the day. Followed by Bakelants and Vorganov.
Meantime, Matt Brammeier has about 100m on his breakaway cohorts...
Race all together...
BMC and Team Sky are pushing the pace on the front of the bunch and we have riders in difficulty, with a few getting popped out the back.
Fair to say the day after someone has won solo is not one you want to be in the break for #noleash #bunchsprint #TdU #cyclingnewstdu
@Tinea_Pedis Thu, 19th Jan 2012 03:23:46
Peloton is travelling at around 60km/h
Nine riders that were off the back have now managed to get back to the bunch.
So, looking at the possibilities for today's sprint, you need to consider that the final kilometre is quite technical starting with a tightish roundabout with the odd turn before a finishing straight of around 560m.
Race still together...
Can anyone tell me what the expected finish time is for today's stage? #tdu #cyclingnewstdu
@lisanne77 Thu, 19th Jan 2012 03:39:23
Should be just after 1440 local time...
We have a Rabobank rider in "difficulty" according to race radio...
Mat Hayman (Sky), Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Movistar) and Mirko Selvaggi (Vacansoleil) have attacked!
The attack gets the buzzer... Race back together and GreenEdge is doing the work - again...
It's been really interesting watching the groups over the finish line the last few days. It's become increasingly obvious that the 'sprint heavy' GreenEdge outfit is favouring the chances of Simon Gerrans and Cam Meyer. The other guys in the team seem to be doing all the work and dropping back once they're done.
RadioShack-Nissan now have control of the front of the peloton
Some interesting points being raised here in the Cyclingnews blimp... Does someone the likes of Mark Renshaw (and perhaps then in turn Michael Matthews) have an advantage today because he was a navigator for Cavendish for so long?
It's time to feel the rush... (jokes)
Rabobank leading the charge now, race still together with 1km remaining
Correction 3km to go...
Rabobank still controlling the race
And it's another win for Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol)... Info was scarce over the last few kilometres. I think Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) was second.
That puts Greipel back in ochre... conflicting reports on the place-getters
Okay, provisional results suggest Yauheni Hutarovich (FDJ-BigMat) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) took second and third.
Seems Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) was fourth with Robbie McEwen (GreenEdge) fifth
Thanks for joining us today for live coverage from the Santos Tour Down Under.
I'll be back on deck tomorrow for Stage 4 from Norwood to Tanunda around 11am local time - and hopefully do a much better job.
Meantime, check out full results and the report from today's stage by clicking here.