Stage three of the Tour Down Under was expected to be a brutal leg-testing challenge in the South Australian heat.
The route ran 146.3km from Lobethal, east of Adelaide, to nearby Uraidla with more than 3,000m of climbing along the way.
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But the profile was not a guaranteed opportunity for the climbers, as the altitude metres gradually built up over the stage in a relentlessly undulating course.
Surprise stage two winner Patrick Bevin (CCC Team) was hoping to hold onto his slender general classification lead heading into the third day, while other GC favourites including Richie Porte (Trek – Segafredo) and Daryl Impey (Mitchelton – Scott) would look for their first opportunities to assert themselves in the race.
Stage two culminated in a thrillingly unpredictable final, with New Zealander Patrick Bevin beating sprint favourites Caleb Ewan (Lotto – Soudal) and Peter Sagan (Bora – Hansgrohe) at the line.
The 27-year-old took over the race leadership from Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Elia Viviani, who took the first WorldTour victory of the year on stage one.
Bevin’s victory was CCC Team’s maiden WorldTour victory and his first triumph outside of a National Championships since winning stage four of the Herald Sun Tour in February 2015.
Catch up on the best bits from stage three or you can read everything that happened in our race report.
The 2019 Tour Down Under started on Tuesday (January 14) and ends on Sunday (January 20) atop the now famous Willunga Hill.
Thanks to the men’s race being at the very start of the international cycling calendar, the Tour Down Under always enjoys considerable attention from cycling fans across the world, eager to see a bit of bike racing after a few fallow months.
Maybe as a result of those few months without cycling, but the racing always seems entertaining too, and although some parts of the peloton use it as a chance to cruise around and enjoy some good weather, at the front the racing is fierce as riders try to pick up crucial WorldTour points early in the year.