Stage two winner Caleb Ewan has finished third on a stifling hot stage three of the Tour Down Under to retain the race lead by 10seconds.
It’s the first time in history Ewan has retained the jersey for consecutive days having held it for one-day in the past two editions.
Ewan blamed a personal error for costing him the stage but praised his Mitchelton-SCOTT teammates on another perfect lead out.
Stifling hot conditions
With the temperature soaring well above 40degrees, today’s stage was reduced by 26km to provide a little relief for the peloton. A tail wind saw racing remain at a steady pace but there’s no doubt the heat zapped the energy of riders throughout the day.
Familiar faces brave heat in front
With most of the bunch just trying to survive, it was the familiar faces of Scott Bowden (UniSA) and Nicholas Dlamini (Dimension Data) who went off the front looking for intermediate jersey points.
As their tired legs dropped back to the bunch it was Tiago Machado (Team Katusha Alpecin) left out front until the final local lap when the team’s drew him back in ahead of the bunch sprint.
After a short but hot day, with Mitchelton-SCOTT doing their fair share of controlling, the team were all together at the front of bunch heading into the final and only 13km local lap.
As the riders peeled off one-by-one, Alex Edmondson had Ewan on his wheel in the final 200m before a moments hesitation as Elia Viviani (Quickstep Floors) jumped which cost him the stage victory.
Caleb Ewan – 3rd on the stage and Overall Leader
“I’m pretty disappointed with that to be honest, my team gave me an absolutely perfect lead out and I stuffed it up in the end. It was a bit of a headwind so I didn’t want to go too early, I waited a little bit too long and Viviani got the jump on me.”
“I can’t fault the team they were absolutely perfect and they did exactly what I asked them to do. There’s been four different winners over the last four races here so it just shows he depth of the sprint field here at this race.”
“I can still take confidence out of all my sprints the last few days. I haven’t quite nailed them all as I would have hoped but I am super confident with how the team is riding and I don’t think I have ever had lead outs this good before. The times I haven’t won it’s been more because of myself rather than the team.”
Alex Edmondson – Australian road race champion
“It was a really hot day out there and we rode really well all day. The boys lined it out perfectly from about five kilometres to go, we took a hard left then from two kilometres to go we were all on the front.”
“Daryl came through then I hit the front with 500metres to go, so we pretty much nailed the lead out and we can’t be too disappointed with today.”
“We came here to get as much practice as we could in the lead outs and we showed that today, we took the race on and there weren’t many teams who took it up like we did. We can take many positives from that, plus Caleb is still in the leaders jersey.”
Tour Down Under – Stage three results:
1. Elia Viviani (Quick.Steo Floors) 3:04:40
Tour Down Under – General classification after stage three:
1. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 10:58:36