Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) continued to show his early season prowess after impressively sprinting to victory on stage three of the 2017 Tour Down Under.
The diminutive Australian suffered from a lack of leadout by his team, but was able to make a huge solo effort from way back in the field to beat world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain-Merida) to the win in Victor Harbour.
The pace had been extremely high in the last few kilometres on the fourth and final rounding of the Victor Harbour circuit on the 144km stage, making it hard for teams to take control at the front.
Team Sky made a later surge with British trio Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe leading out Danny van Poppel, who went too late after Ewan and Sagan followed a surge in pace by Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) on the right side of the road.
Ewan had come round the final corner way back in the peloton, but was able to slip his way through to the front of the field and followed Bennett’s wheel until he moved aside and surged to victory ahead of Sagan.
All but one of the key GC men made it safely to the finish, with second place Gorka Izaguirre (Movistar) taking a heavy fall in a crash with Jan Bakelants (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Danilo Wyss (BMC) just inside 3km to go. Despite looking like he lost some skin, the Spaniard retains his place overall with GC times taken at 3km to go in the case of a crash.
The day was dominated by the first breakaway consisting of more than one rider in this edition of the Tour Down Under, with Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Clement Chevrier (Ag2r La Mondiale), Jeremy Maison (FDJ) and Vegard Laengen (UAE Abu Dhabi) riding away almost from the gun.
And they stayed out there for more or less the entire day getting around five minutes breathing space, with an attack from Laengen with just under 20km remaining splitting them up, as he attempted to go solo to the finish.
His former companions were caught shortly afterwards, but it took until 5km to go for the main peloton to catch the Norwegian ride who had gone for a long solo effort.
It was Ewan who eventually took the spoils on stage three through, with race leader Richie Porte (BMC) hanging on to his lead for another day and takes another step closer to overall victory. The race concludes on Sunday, January 22.
2017 Tour Down Under stage three: Glenelg – Victor Harbor, (144k)
1. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-Scott, in 3-24-45
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
3. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
4. Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Team Sky
5. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
6. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Sunweb
7. Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal
8. Lorenzo Manzin (Fra) FDJ
9. Ruben Guerreiro (Por) Trek-Segafredo
10. Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin, all same time
Overall classification after stage three
1. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing, in 10-34-59
2. Gorka Izaguirre (Esp) Movistar, at 20 secs
3. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-Scott, at 22s
4. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 24s
5. Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data, at 27s
6. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing, at 29s
7. Luis León Sánchez (Esp) Astana
8. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Abu Dhabi
9. Rafael Valls (Esp) Lotto Soudal
10. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, all same time