Tough stage looms with Norton Summit on the menu tomorrow Down Under
Elia Viviani (Quickstep-Floors) won stage 3 of the Tour Down Under, sprinting to the victory ahead of Phil Bauhaus (Team Sunweb) and Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott). Ewan retained the overall race lead heading into tomorrow’s 4th stage.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s rising star, Nicholas Dlamini, made it 3 out of 3 for breakaways at the Tour Down Under by going clear with Scott Bowden (UniSA) in the opening kilometer of today’s stage. Dlamini was in pursuit of the King of the Mountain points on offer at the top of Pennys Hill and he made no mistake in claiming all 16 points that were up for grabs.
The scorching heat was relentless though, so much so that the organisers reduced the stage from 146km to 120km and Dlamini made the wise decision to return back to the peloton mid-stage. Bowden continued on alone in the 40+ degree heat but he was caught, as expected, with 13km to go.
The peloton came roaring into Victor Harbour with Mitchelton-Scott leading the charge. Their sprinter, Ewan, seemed to have the stage served to him on a platter but a misjudgement by the Australian allowed Viviani to catapult into the lead meters before the line, with Bauhaus in tow. The Italian took the stage win, making it 3 different winners in 3 stages.
Tomorrow the Tour Down Under heads into the Adelaide hills and takes the riders up Norton Summit which is sure to shake up the overall GC. Our African Team will rally around Tom-Jelte Slagter for the tough finishing climb, with a good result tomorrow key before the Willunga stage on Saturday.
Alex Sans Vega – Sport Director
We followed the plan as in the other stages. The King of the Mountains was again early in the stage and Nic made the break to collect more points. After the climb, he rode on a bit further in the break as there was a tailwind, so he wasn’t using any extra energy being out there. Only when the peloton started pulling harder for the bonus sprints the gap dropped very quickly so then it made sense for Nic to drop back to the peloton. In the final, it was a tricky finish so it was good we didn’t lose any time with Tom or Ben and Lachlan.
Tomorrow is also a tricky stage as it’s the first time we do Norton Summit as part of a final. Some teams have been a little quiet and they are teams with options to win the race, so it will be interesting to see what they will do tomorrow. If someone wants to win this race they must go hard tomorrow because if you see someone like Caleb Ewan, he is climbing well and if you make the climb easy, with the bonus seconds he already has, you bring the sprinters into contention for the overall. We know Willunga will be hard but you can’t wait for Willunga Hill, tomorrow has to be hard as well.