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Santos Tour Down Under 2015: Stage 3

Hello and welcome to live coverage from stage 3 of the Santos Tour Down under.

Today's 143.2k third stage from the Norwood to Paracombe features another lumpy route that will make things tough for the sprinters. Orica-Greenedge director Matt White told Cyclingnews he expects today's winner to be a climber or a “very, very punchy rider.”

You can read Cyclingnews' complete Tour Down Under preview with White's comments on each stage.

 

Yesterday's stage was won in a sprint by Juan Jose Lobato. if you missed the action you can read about it here.

Today's route starts with a 7.5km neutral roll out and ends with three laps of a 25.7km finishing circuit. It includes two intermediate sprints and a single KOM that comes less than half a kilometre from the finish.

The first iiNet Sprint comes at 67.4km. The second is 93.1km in. The KOM is 142.8km into the 143.2km stage,

This year marks the eighth time a stage has started in Norwood.

Here's yesterday's top 10 on the stage:

1 Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Movistar Team
2 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEdge
3 Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team
4 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin
5 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
6 Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Astana Pro Team
7 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky
8 Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida
9 Nathan Haas (Aus) Cannondale-Garmin
10 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

And the current General Classification:

1 Jack Bobridge (Aus) UniSA-Australia 6:41:55
2 Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:03
3 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana Pro Team 0:00:04
4 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEdge 0:00:07
5 Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:09
6 Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:00:13
7 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
8 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Nathan Haas (Aus) Cannondale-Garmin
10 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team

The riders have started rolling for their 7.5km neutral start.

Campbell Flakemore, the young BMC rider who spent the day helping to power yesterday's main breakaway, experienced some bad luck after the race when he crashed on the ride back to the hotel. The team says he broke his collarbone and will undergo surgery. You can read more here.

In a TV interview before today's stage, Cadel Evans (BMC) was asked if stage 3 could be an indicator of who can win the overall:

"Normally. Not everyone's going to be able to make it everyday to hold a good classification, so I think today and probably Saturday are going to be good indicators. Look at the start, it's very steep and we'll see how hard the race is before we get there. I guess when we hit the bottom of it we will know."

Whoops! This just in from the race: "Just a reminder there are three iiNET Sprints today instead of the normal two. They will all take place in Charleston (67.4km, 93.1km and 118.8km)."

Today's peloton has 131 riders, down from 133. Campbell Flakemore (BMC) did not take the start, and Michal Kolar abandoned yesterday.

The neutral is over and they're racing. Expect lots of fireworks early as they start with a climb.

Drapac's Martin Kohler starts today's fun with a solo attack.

Calvin Watson (Trek) and Alex Dromont (AG2R La Mondiale) are trying to bridge.

140km remaining from 143km

The escapees were caught, now Drapac's William Clarke give it a go.

140km remaining from 143km

Clarke has a 25 second gap with three more riders trying to catch him.

The three riders trying to reach Clarke are Lasse Norman Hansen (Cannondale-Garmin), Calvin Watson (Trek) and Axel Domont (AG2R La Mondiale). The chasers are 18 seconds behind Clarke and 40 seconds in front of the peloton.

Clarke has 1:40 on the peloton now with three riders just behind.

133km remaining from 143km

The three riders have caught on to establish a breakaway for four. In the group are William Clarke (Drapac), Lasse Norman Hansen (Cannondale-Garmin), Axel Domont (AG2R La Mondiale) and
Calvin Watson (Trek) .

They have 1:40 on the peloton.

The gap has grown to 1:55, making Clarke, who started the day 1:05 down, the overall race leader on the road.

Greg LeMond spoke to reporters today in Adelaide and had some interesting thing to say regarding Lance Armstrong's lifetime ban. You can read about it here.

131km remaining from 143km

The gap to William Clarke (Drapac), Lasse Norman Hansen (Cannondale-Garmin), Axel Domont (AG2R La Mondiale) and Calvin Watson (Trek) has grown to 2:20.

128km remaining from 143km

The peloton is obviously happy with this move, as the gap continues to increase. It's now at 2:35

123km remaining from 143km

The breakaway continues to roll down the North East Road Chain of Ponds, and the gap has grown slightly to 2:40.

114km remaining from 143km

The breakaway has pulled out a little more rope for its advantage, which is now 3:25.

Lampre's Niccolo Bonifazio, who finished 8th yesterday, spoke with race reporters about today's finish:

"All the riders who finished at the front yesterday will play for the victory again today except me. It's too steep for me. It suits Cadel Evans very well."

Team LottoNL-Jumbo's Bertjan Lindeman told race reporters there is no chance for the escapees today:
"There's no chance for a breakaway to make it to the finish. It's going to be an uphill sprint because many teams want that to happen. George Bennett and myself are still in the same time as most of the riders so we keep our ambitions to perform on GC."

108km remaining from 143km

The gap to the four breakaway riders is holding at 3:15 as race leader Jack Bobridge's UniSA team have joined Sky on the front for the chase.

Again, the four riders in the break are:

William Clarke (Drapac)
Lasse Norman Hansen (Cannondale-Garmin)
Axel Domont (AG2R La Mondiale)
Calvin Watson (Trek)

Hanssen is making his Tour Down Under debut. He is yet to have a Pro level win but has won five times in other races including most recently the GP de Francfort Espoirs in 2013.

Domont is making his 2nd TDU Appearance. In 2014 he finished 2nd in the mountains classification. He's been a Pro rider since 2011.

Calvin Watson is also making his second Tour Down Under appearance. A pro rider since 2012, Calvin made his WorldTour debut last year with Trek.

Clarke has competed in the Tour Down under four times coming into this year. In 2012 he won Stage 2 into Stirling with a day-long breakaway. He has been a Pro since 2010.

105km remaining from 143km

The gap has grown by 10 seconds now to 3:25

Tinkoff-Saxo's Michael Rogers is expecting a thrilling finish today in Paracombe that will affect the GC:
"We're enthusiastic about today. It's a big stage for GC. It will turn things around for the overall. It's early in the season so I am not in top shape. We'll see how it goes. It's nice to have a finish like this in the Tour Down Under."

Sky's Richie Porte is also expecting a big day:

"I'm feeling good. The team's been great. They've done great work protecting me these past two days. It's a tough finish today. We will have the numbers at the front so it's going to be a big day. It will be a big battle on the final climb, so I am looking forward to that."

Race leader Jack Bobridge is racing on a Cervélo S3 this week. You can have a look at his Budget Forklifts team machine here.

102km remaining from 143km

The escapees have added another few seconds to their advantage, which is now 3:30 as they ride past through Mt Torrens near General Store.

Less than 100km to go now.

Today's stage at the Tour de San Luis ended with another field sprint, and once again young Colombian Fernando Gaviria beat Mark Cavendish for the win. The Manxman was very complimentary of his Colombian rival.

“He’s a track rider, he was junior world champion on the track and you can see from his acceleration that he’s a track rider,” Cavendish said admiringly. “He’s a very good guy.”

You can read more about the stage here.

The peloton is about to start the first of three 25.7km finishing circuits. There are three iiNET Sprints today at 67.4km, 93.1km and 118.8km. The only KOM comes  .4km from the finish.

Lotto's Adam Hansen has said that the absence of sprinter Andre Greipel, who has won 16 stages at the Tour Down Under and the overall twice, puts a lot of pressure on the team. You can read more about Hansen's comments here.

89km remaining from 143km

The peloton appears to have woken up a bit. The gap is now down to 3:10

81km remaining from 143km

The gap continues to come down as the riders approach the first sprint of the day. The four riders up front now have 2:50.

Lotto-Soudal's Thomas De Gendt, one of the heroes of yesterday's break, is aiming for the mountains classification jersey at the Tour Down Under. You can read more here.

William Clarke takes the first sprint of the day ahead of Lasse Norman and Axel Domont.

Orica rider Daryl Impey, yesterday's runner-up, said he is aiming for overall success at this Tour Down Under. You can read more about it here

Current race leader Jack Bobridge will attempt the Hour Record on January 31, but he says the record attempt will not hinder his performance at the Tour Down Under. You can read more of what Bobridge had to say here.

69km remaining from 143km

The gap to Clarke, Hansen, Domont and Waston is back up to 3:05 as they near the beginning of the second of three 25.7km closing circuits.

The Spanish Movistar has had fair share of success at the Tour Down Under over the years, and the stage win yesterday by Juan Jose Lobato added another result.

Lobato joined Movistar after spending the 2013 season in the WorldTour with Euskaltel-Euskadi and in the last 12 months, Lobato's run of results includes victory on the opening stage at the Vuelta a Burgos, a stage at the Tour de Wallonie, second places stage finishes at Tour de Suisse and Tour of Austria to go with his fourth place at the 2014 Milan San Remo.

You can read more here

Lampre-Merida's Tsgabu Grmay is the only Ethiopian in the WorldTour, and he has a leadership role with his new team at the Tour Down Under. You can read more about him in Zeb Woodpower's report.

63km remaining from 143km

The time gap to the four leaders continues to hover around three minutes.

88km remaining from 143km

The gap is now down to 2:45.

Movistar has taken up the chase, and some of Bobridge's UniSA teammates have thrown themselves into the mix.

The second of three iiNET Sprints is approaching at 93.1km. The current gap is 2:40

51km remaining from 143km

Three times are contributing to the chase now: Sky, UniSA and Movistar.

49km remaining from 143km

The second sprint is approaching. Will they roll through or will they sprint?

Hansen answers with an attack, but Clarke takes the sprint.

Official sprint #2 results:

1 Clarke
2 Hansen
3 Domont

That's two intermediate sprint wins for Clarke, who also gets six seconds in time bonuses. Clarke started the day 1:04 down on Bobridge, so he's currently the overall leader on the road.

40km remaining from 143km

With just over 40km to go, the gap is 2:25.

38km remaining from 143km

Axel Domont has fallen off the pace of the breakaway and will be back in the peloton soon. Clarke, Hansen and Watson continue on up front.

The trio up front may have picked up the pace as their gap is back to 2:48 now. Maybe that accounts for the jettisoning of Domont, who is still in no-man's land.

36km remaining from 143km

A tight left-hand turn for the break riders, who are 36km from the finish. gap is 2:50.

Once again, the three riders up front are William Clarke (Drapac), Lasse Norman Hansen (Cannondale-Garmin) and Calvin Watson (Trek). They have 2:50.

Axel Domont (AG2R La Mondiale) was in the group but dropped out and is currently in no-man's land.
 

Although Cannondale-Garmin missed out on the podium yesterday, Alex Howes told Cyclingnews' Zeb Woodpower before today's start that the team have several options for today's finale. You can read more about Howes, including his half-jesting idea to raise pigmy kangaroos to sell to people on Hollywood.

1km from the third sprint, and the acceleration from Clarke and Watson caused some suffering for Hansen.

24km remaining from 143km

Clarke takes the third sprint of the day to complete the sweep. He'll get nine bonus seconds as well.

Clarke is helping himself to refreshments from the Drapac team car, and Hansen asks the car for a bottle as well. Hansen (Cannondale-Garmin) may be reaching his limits.

23km remaining from 143km

The gap is coming down precipitously now. Just above two minutes with 23km to go.

The finish today ascends approximately 150 metres in the final 2.5km. The sprinters will be hard-pressed to make that finale.

20km remaining from 143km

Sky is chasing now, and the gap to the three up front has come down to just over a minute.

The peloton is spread across the road now as the catch looks more and more imminent.

17km remaining from 143km

Cannondale-Garmin's Hansen has finally popped out of the lead group.

15km remaining from 143km

Watson has popped.Clarke is alone up front now with 58 seconds.

All the major teams are coming to the front now, including Giant-Alpecin, Astana, Sky, Orica, and BMC.

The field is spread across the road with multiple teams trying to take control. Clarke is still up front with 45 seconds.

Clarke is tucked over his bars on a descent, while back in the field Marcel Kittel himself has come to the front, likely trying to set up teammate Tom Dumoulin for the finale.

8km remaining from 143km

And Clarke succumbs with 8km to go.

5km remaining from 143km

The trains are starting to battle. Sky is on the front before the sweeping corner onto the final climb. Evand and BMC right up there, as is Giant. Heinrich Haussler is on the front for IAM.

Less than 3km from the big turn onto the climb. Everyone wants to be the first one there.

IAM Cycling driving the pace now.

Katusha coming to the front now. They're swapping leads every few seconds. Evans and Porte both up front and ready to hit the climb.

Evans on the front followed by Porte and Impey.

Simon Geschke pushing the pace on the climb. Evans is there, Porte, Garrains.

Porte has attacked!

Pozzovivo, Dumoulin, Evas, Porte separating themselves formt he rest.

Porte attacks and Evans follows.

Rohan Denis (BMC) has come up and attacked! Did he catch them off guard?

Dennis has a good gap.

 

Dennis wins, followed by teammate Cadel Evans.

Today's Top 5:
1 Rohan Dennis (BMC)
2 Cadel Evans (BMC)
3 Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin)
4 Maxim Bouet (Etixx-Quickstep)
5 Michael Rogers (Tinkoff Saxo)

Current Overall Standings:

1 Rohan Dennis (BMC) 10:17:06
2 Cadel Evan (BMC) 00:00:07
3 Tom Dumoulin (Giantt-Alpecin) 00:00:09
4 Richie Porte (Sky) 00:00:15
5 Jack Haig (UniSA) oo:oo:15

Thanks for tuning in for today's stage. Will be back again tomorrow for the 145km stage 4 from Glenelg to Mount Barker.

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