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Santos Tour Down Under 2011: Stage 3

Welcome, intrepid Cyclingnews readers! Today's stage of the Santos Tour Down Under takes riders on a 129km journey from Unley, an inner-Adelaide suburb and Stirling, at the foot of the Adelaide Hills...

Overnight Bernard Sulzberger and Chris Sutton had to call it quits in this year's race due to injuries sustained in the crashes at the end of yesterday's stage in Mannum. Sulzberger has a broken collarbone whilst Sutton's knee was too badly hurt to continue.

As we head through the 10km neutral of today's stage, let's look at what's on offer for the riders during the 129km. There are two Jayco Intermediate Sprints, the first coming in McLaren Flat after 31.3km and the second in Echunga after 64.3km. There's one Skoda KOM at Germantown Hill, which comes after 79.6km of racing.

Of particular interest to us here are the finishing circuits before the finale in Stirling. Riders contend with some undulating terrain and a solid climb up and over the scenic town of Stirling, where there are generally attacks from the lighter climbers who fancy their chances.

Speaking of that finish in Stirling, LEOPARD-Trek's Stuart O'Grady told Cyclingnews this morning that it's a finale to be wary of; "You have to keep a little bit of gas in the tank for the last 5k, which is really hard," he said. "You need a little bit of punch in the legs so you don't lose any time."

128km remaining from 129km

And an attack from the gun! It's Joost Van Leijin of Vacansoleil... It's also prompted a move from several other riders.

Apologies, it's not Joost Van Leijin of Vacansoleil, it was his teammate Thomas De Gendt... But never mind, the peloton is all together.

And De Gendt has gone again! He's determined to get some TV time throughout the Adelaide Hills...

125km remaining from 129km

A group of four has now gone clear, including De Gendt. It consists of: Aleksandr Kuschynski (Katusha), Luis Pasamontes (Movistar), Luke Durbridge (UniSA) and De Gendt. The quartet quickly gets 200m on the peloton...

125km remaining from 129km

Astana rider Andriy Grivko is trying to bridge but quickly sits up...

121km remaining from 129km

The break has quickly accumulated an advantage of 1:11 - after yesterday's hijinks in the final three kilometres that's not surprising...

118km remaining from 129km

That gap has continued to increase and now sits at 1:55 as the quartet out front is working well together.

115km remaining from 129km

We've burst through the two-minute mark and the gap currently sits at 2:40 - with a gradual downhill run for the first 20km, it won't be difficult to gain some more time.

A little bit about the man who kicked things off in the break today, Thomas De Gendt.The 24-year-old from St Niklaas in Belgium began his pro career with Unibet-Davo in 2006. He has enjoyed success in his home country, most recently in the Tour of Belgium, where he took fifth overall last year...

108km remaining from 129km

Just as we suspected, the gap has increased further and now sits at 3:02 with a shade over 100km to race. There'll be some wounds to lick in the peloton and it's obvious the riders are sitting back and counting the cost of yesterday's crashes in the finale.

26km remaining from 129km

That gap is 2:56 as the break gets two kilometres until the first intermediate sprint at Kangarilla Rd, McLaren Flat. And indeed that road is rather flat, forming one of the main thoroughfares through the McLaren Vale wine region...

99km remaining from 129km

There's a kilometre until the first intermediate sprint for the peloton, although the leading quartet would have plundered most of the points on offer... We'll endeavour to get the results of that sprint as soon as possible...

98km remaining from 129km

The result of the first JaycoIntermediate Sprint: Aleksandr Kuschynski (Katusha), followed by Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil) and Luke Durbridge (UniSA).

96km remaining from 129km

It seems that the peloton is going to give the break a shade under three minutes today, as the gap is hovering around 2:50 and seems to have stabilised as today's parcours begins to gradually rise towards Meadows and the second intermediate sprint at Echunga.

As we keep an eye out for today's KOM in Bridgewater, let's take a look at what Luke Roberts (UniSA), who leads the mountains classification, had to say about his goals for that title and the rest of the week:

"I'll keep an eye on the KOM points today and I won't give it up easily. It's not my main objective. I'm here to win this stage today and I've also got my eye on the stage on Saturday. I'm confident I can win and I know how I can win."

89km remaining from 129km

The latest time check keeps the break at 2:40 ahead of the peloton... It's a comfortable advantage for Team RadioShack to maintain, as overall leader Robbie McEwen's men watch for any nasty surprises

81km remaining from 129km

There's been a go-slow in the peloton as the break now has five minutes... Whoa boys, this is the biggest break of the race so far and will undoubtedly have to drop sooner rather than later.

79km remaining from 129km

OK, feeding time is over and it's time for Team RadioShack to cotinue its defence of Robbie McEwen's overall lead; the gap has only dropped three second to 4:57 but expect it to be lowered significantly in the following kilometres...

75km remaining from 129km

It's five kilometres until the second Jayco Intermediate Sprint for the leading quartet... As far as we can tell the gap between it and the peloton still stands around 4:50 as feeding continues back in the main field.

71km remaining from 129km

An updated kilometre and time check sees the break enjoying a 4:30 buffer between itself and the peloton...

And with five kilometres until the peloton hits the second intermediate sprint, the gap has dropped by 15 seconds, now sitting at 4:15 - it's likely to be slashed and burned like a canefield after harvest very soon...

67km remaining from 129km

While we wait for the results of the second intermediate sprint, let's see by how much that gap between break and peloton has dropped... at 3:50 our prediction of slicing and dicing by the main field has reached fruition. Look out as the KOM approaches.

64km remaining from 129km

The results of the second Jayco Intermediate Sprint: Aleksandr Kuschynski (Katusha) took maximum points, followed by Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil) and Luis Pasamontes (Movistar)

63km remaining from 129km

The break has 3:02 and the slippery slope towards the catch continues... That's 36 seconds in about two kilometres - time to light the wick, fellas!

62km remaining from 129km

With the gap down to 2:57 there's every chance the break will be pulled back well in advance of the finishing circuits in Stirling...

The boys at one of Adelaide's best bike shops, SCU in Unley, missed the stage start round the corner in their suburb this morning because they have been inundated with business... Jade, Mark, Jimmy, James and Lizzie were very disappointed...

55km remaining from 129km

The peloton will be hitting the KOM in five clicks while the break will be getting there in only three kilometres... The time gap is 2:50 and will drop significantly after the mountains points have been collected.

The man who has taken maximum sprint points so far in today's stage, Aleksandr Kuschynski, began his pro career with Amore e Vita in 2004, having also ridden for Ceramica Flaminia and Liquigas. Katusha's 31-year-old Belarusian was last year's national road race champion and also featured in the break during last Sunday's Cancer Council Classic. Seems like he's got some form this week.

50km remaining from 129km

Tim Roe (BMC Racing) Martin Kohler (BMC Racing) and Angel Madrazo (Movistar) have attacked near the summit of the KOM...

49km remaining from 129km

The gap has decreased further, now sitting at 2:22 as Roe, Kohler and Madrazo only have 100m over the peloton

Today's Skoda KOM was won by Luke Durbridge (UniSA), followed by Luis Pasamontes (Movistar), Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Katusha) and Tim Roe (BMC Racing)

47km remaining from 129km

Roe and co have the bit between the their teeth and have put 55 seconds between themselves and the peloton, with the leading four riders a minute ahead of them...

44km remaining from 129km

The leading quartet has an advantage of 2:05 over the peloton, with the chasing trio some 1:40 behind...

And as we head onto circuit in Stirling, it's a good time to see what Garmin-Cervelo's Tyler Farrar told Cyclingnews this morning about the finish:

"The finish in Stirling looks quite hard. At this time of year I think it could be pretty hard for some of the sprinters like myself - it's hot too. There are a few guys who are in really good shape at the moment; Goss is a prime example. He'd probably be my pick for today but you never know, I'll see how my legs are treating me out there."

39km remaining from 129km

Tim Roe's again involved in a late-race attack, having tried his luck yesterday afternoon and holding off a hard-charging peloton for about 20km late in the day. He's with BMC Racing teammate Martin Kohler and Angel Madrazo - the trio is still 1:37 behind the leading quartet.

Hey folks, we'd almost forgotten today's catch phrase... Ideas have been scant after yesterday's mayhem, but Holger has suggested we go for "Stirling effort from the peloton". I like it... More suggestions to cyclingnews@cyclingnews.com

We're getting news that Luke Roberts has held onto the mountains jersey... Well done, sir.

36km remaining from 129km

The trio of Roe, Kohler and Madrazo is only 100m from the front of the peloton... Good effort boys but it's tough out the front.

31km remaining from 129km

The leading quartet has 1:46 over the peloton and it's dropping fast...

29km remaining from 129km

With less than 30km left in the stage, the break has 1:20 - RadioShack is on the front and doing the business for Robbie McEwen

28km remaining from 129km

The undulating circuit around Stirling is an exciting way of finishing today's stage and it shouldn't be too long until we see some fireworks coming from the front of the peloton - with a gap of 1:13 between break and bunch, it's a certainty.

25km remaining from 129km

The break has 50 seconds over the peloton and the gap's only getting smaller...

20km remaining from 129km

The catch has been made and the race is all together...

Crash!

Graeme Brown has been caught up in another crash but is back up

20km remaining from 129km

Race is all together despite a small attack

Wheel change for Robbie McEwen...

18km remaining from 129km

Will Clarke (LEOPARD-Trek) has tried his luck off the front of the peloton - he's a strong lad and could do well on this circuit.

Matthew Goss (HTC-Highroad) has punctured and is trying to get back onto the peloton

10km remaining from 129km

Omega Pharma-Lotto is controlling the front of the peloton with 10km to go

8km remaining from 129km

Stage one winner Matthew Goss has rejoined the peloton after his puncture, with Bernhard Eisel helping him back to the bunch

Ben Hermans (RadioShack) and Aitor Arrieta (Lampre) are attacking hard now with almost five kilometres

Hermans remains off the front but has a small advantage

Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) has jumped onto Hermans' wheel and the pair has got 70m

3km remaining from 129km

Hermans and Porte still have 40m on the bunch

The bunch has caught the leading duo

1km remaining from 129km

One kilometre to go...

Michael Matthews (Rabobank) wins!

Andre Greipel (OMega Pharma-Lotto) has taken second behind the current U23 road race world champion

We're getting reports that Matthews won easily ahead of Greipel and Matthew Goss, while Simon Gerrans (Team Sky) may have finished in fifth...

Thanks for tuning in to Cyclingnews' coverage of stage three at the Santos Tour Down Under... Congratulations to stage winner Michael Matthews and overall leader Matthew Goss, who regains the ochre jersey. Be sure to return to Cyclingnews tomorrow for continued coverage of this year's race.

Provisional top three:

1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank
2 Andre Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto
3 Matthew Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad

Race all together

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