Slagter Wins TDU Third Stage, But Thomas Still Leads

by Andrew Dent

ADELAIDE, Australia, Jan 24, 2013 (AFP) – Dutch rider Tom Jelte Slagter won
the third stage of the Tour Down Under with a powerful uphill sprint while
Britain’s Geraint Thomas retained his position as overall leader on Thursday.

Slagter, from Team Blanco, moved to within five seconds of Thomas in the
general classification after he led home Australian Matthew Goss (Orica
GreenEDGE) and world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) in the sprint to
the line.

Thomas came in fourth, just missing out on gaining bonus seconds for taking
a spot in the top three.

“It’s really amazing that I can beat them,” Slagter said of finishing ahead
of Goss, Gilbert and Thomas in his first professional win. “The only thing I
knew was that I was (feeling) good and tried to get the best result.

“David Tanner my teammate pulled the sprint the perfect way and I just had
to go.”

The thrilling end to the race was a fitting climax to a fascinating day,
which started in Unley in inner-city Adelaide and finished 139 kilometres
(86.4 miles) later in the picturesque town of Stirling, nestled in the
Adelaide Hills.

On the hottest day of the tour so far, with temperatures reaching as high
as 38 degrees Celsius, Australian duo Simon Clarke (Orica GreenEDGE) and Will
Clarke (Team Argos-Shimana) made the first attacking move when they broke
clear after 10 kilometres and steadily rode away from the peloton.

The two Clarkes (not related) were riding well together and took a lead of
almost three and half minutes during the stage, which included six
21.4-kilometre (13.3-mile) laps in the countryside around Stirling.

But at the 90-kilometre mark, the peloton began a series of attacks to
close the gap.

A leading group of eight then opened a 30-second gap though the peloton,
controlled largely by Thomas’s Sky Pro Cycling team, maintained contact and
with five kilometres left the race was together again.

Portuguese rider Tiago Machado then tried his luck and went 300 metres
clear, but couldn’t sustain the pace and was brought back with 1.5 kilometres
to go, setting up a sprint finish.

Tanner brought Slagter forward and when the Dutchman decided to go for
home, none of the others were able to go with him.

Thomas said his teammates had done everything asked of them.

“The boys were strong and we were always in control, but we definitely got
tested today,” he said.

“It was down to me to try and get on the podium and get some bonus seconds
— it didn’t quite happen but we’ve still got the (ochre leader’s) jersey and
that’s the main thing.”

The Welshman was confident of retaining the lead in Friday’s
126.5-kilometre (78.5-mile) fourth stage from Modbury to Tanunda in the
Barossa Valley, and said the race would probably come down to Saturday’s
penultimate stage, which includes two climbs up the infamous Old Willunga Hill.

“Tomorrow should be a bunch sprint I would have thought, so it will all
come down to Willunga and the big test up there,” Thomas said.

Tour Down Under Stage 3 results

ADELAIDE, Australia, Jan 24, 2013 (AFP) – Results from the 139km third
stage of the UCI WorldTour Tour Down Under from Unley to Stirling Thursday:

1. Tom Jelte Slagter (NED/BLA) 3hr 36min 46 sec, 2. Matthew Goss (AUS/OGE)
s.t., 3. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/BMC) s.t., 4. Geraint Thomas (GBR/SKY) s.t., 5.
Giovanni Visconti (ITA/MOV) s.t., 6. Javier Moreno (ESP/MOV) s.t., 7. Simone
Ponzi (ITA/AST) s.t. 8. Daniele Pietropolli (ITA/LAM) s.t., 9. Ivan
Santaromita (ITA/BMC) s.t., 10. Gorka Izagirre (ESP/EUS) s.t.
37. Andre Greipel (GER/LTB) at 33sec, 40. Simon Gerrans (AUS/OGE) 42, 124.
Andy Schleck (LUX/RLT) 16min 47sec

General Classification

1. Geraint Thomas (GBR/SKY) 9hr 56min 17sec, 2. Tom Jelte Slagter (NED/BLA)
at 05sec, 3. Javier Moreno (ESP/MOV) 06, 4. Ben Hermans (BEL/RLT) 08, 5.
Daniele Pietropolli (ITA/LAM) 15, 6. Jon Izagirre (ESP/EUS) s.t., 7. Gorka
Izagirre (ESP/EUS) s.t., 8. George Bennett (NZL/RLT) s.t., 9. Jack Bauer
(NZL/GRS) s.t., 10. Wilco Kelderman (NED/BLA) s.t.
33. Phillipe Gilbert (BEL/BMC) at 2min 53sec, 37. Simon Gerrans (AUS/OGE)
3min 26sec, 56. Andre Greipel (GER/LTB) 6min 48sec, 124. Andy Schleck
(LUX/RLT) 24min 36sec