André Greipel led the Tour Down Under peloton home for a second time in Victor Harbor, South Australia. The German of team Lotto-Belisol fought cross-winds and rivals to win the stage and take the overall lead. Yauheni Hutarovich and Edvald Boasson Hagen placed second and third.
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“The most important point of today’s race was the one kilometre to go mark,” said Greipel. “I asked my guys to put me there in fifth or sixth position, and they did.”
Greipel took a 10-second bonus for the win and the overall lead. He held the lead for one day after winning the first stage two days ago.
Sky and Rabobank roared through the final kilometres to deliver their sprinters to the win. Mark Renshaw’s Rabobank team battled for position with Sky, who had Geraint Thomas and then Chris Sutton leading out Boasson Hagen.
“The team did a great lead-out, I was in front the whole way but I got a little boxed in from the sides,” said Boasson Hagen. “I also had a slightly flat tyre, but I can’t blame the tyre.”
“Danny Pate and Alex [Dowsett] kept us near the front,” Sutton explained. “Mick Rogers and then Mat Hayman did a long pull from a K to go. Geraint Thomas took over and dropped me off.”
“It was pretty hectic. Because it was downhill, the Ks rattled by pretty quickly,” Thomas added. “We should’ve nailed that, we had four guys coming through the last corner. We should’ve looked after Eddy a little bit better.”
The sprint teams started positioning themselves after the race caught an early escape near Goolwa, around 90 kilometres to race.
Matthew Brammeier (OmegaPharma-Quick Step) joined an early escape trio with Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM), Eduard Vorganov (Katusha) and Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Nissan). Because De Gendt is an overall threat, the group prohibited the escape from gaining much time. At 30 kilometres in, the escape had 5-25 minutes, but Lotto brought its time down to two minutes 35 kilometres later, or 70 kilometres to race.
Lotto ensured Greipel was in position for the win, which also would bring the overall lead. He won the race two years ago, but with the first ever hilltop finish on Saturday in Willunga, he said that a repeat win is unlikely. Previous overall leader, Martin Kohler (BMC Racing) sits second overall at eight seconds and Mike Matthews (Rabobank) third at 12 seconds.
“With two stage wins, we have already reached our goal,” Greipel explained. “We can’t have everything, I’m happy to be in the lead again, but the time bonus don’t matter because the Willunga stage is too hard for me.”
Greipel dedicated the win to Jürgen Roelandts, who crashed and fractured a vertebra in his neck in stage one.
Stage four tomorrow takes the riders 130 kilometres from Norwood to Tanunda. It favours an escape group and the sprinters.
Tour Down Under 2012, stage three: Unley to Victor Harbor, 134.5km
1. Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol
2. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ-Big Mat
3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky
4. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Rabobank
5. Robbie McEwen (Aus) GreenEdge
6. Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Astana
7. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin-Barracuda
8. Daniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan
9. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale
10. Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky all same time
23. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky at same time
60. Andrew Fenn (GBr) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at same time
86. Alex Dowsett (GBr) Sky at same time
93. Adam Blythe (GBr) BMC Racing at same time
Overall classification after stage three
1. Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol
2. Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing at 8 secs
3. Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank at 12 secs
4. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansolei-DCM at 14 secs
5. Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEdge at 16 secs
6. Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan at 16 secs
7. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky at 16 secs
8. Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha at 16 secs
9. Dennis Rohan (Aus) UniSA-Australia at 17 secs
10. Xavier Florencio (Spa) Katusha at 20 secs
88. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky at 6-00
91. Andrew Fenn (GBr) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 7-08
113. Adam Blythe (GBr) BMC Racing at 12-45
120. Alex Dowsett (GBr) Sky at 15-35
Scenery on stage three
GreenEdge take up the chase
Jens Voigt takes charge
Andre Greipel takes the sprint
Andre Greipel reclaims the overall lead
Tour Down Under 2012: Related links
Stage three photo gallery
Stage two: Clarke catches top teams napping in Tour Down Under
Stage one: Greipel wins
Down Under Classic: Greipel opens Down Under with win
Tour Down Under 2012: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index