Tour Down Under Results - Stage 3
McEwen takes stage 3; Sacchi maintains overall lead
day. But the Saeco team of overnight race leader, Italian Fabio SACCHI with help from Stuart O'GRADY's Credit Agricole team, was quick to close them down.
At the bottom of Checker Hill, the 38 kilometre mark, the peloton was all together. Victorian Cadel EVANS (Telekom) churned his way up the climb to claim 16 points in the Laubman & Pank King of the Mountain classification as first over the summit but it was third across the line, Lennie KRISTENSEN (DEN - CSC) who claimed the category lead and will wear the jersey tomorrow.
"The mass of people who arrived early at the mountain to secure the best possible vantage point were vocal and enthusiastic as they urged on their favourite riders," said Ms DEWHIRST. "I'm sure the cyclists appreciated the support."
After the climb a group of 8 riders established a lead. Amongst them was Italian Andrea TAFI (CSC) who despite a bandaged wrist as a result of a crash yesterday came through to claim the first SA Lotteries intermediate sprint at Mt Torrens (62km).
"Some die hard cycling fans, who had travelled from New South Wales, were very excited to see one of their favourite Italian cyclists claim the points on the line," Ms DEWHIRST said.
TAFI, with the overall sprint title in his sights, then surged to the front 20 kilometres later to win the second sprint in Balhannah and in the process took over the SA Lotteries Sprint classification lead.
The eight leaders extended their advantage to 3min30sec before the big guns in the field reacted and the chase began. The pace told on the lead group which whittled to five as TAFI and two others lost contact with the leaders. Saeco continued to do the lion's share of the work and 15 kilometres from the finish the remaining leaders were back with the main field setting up a sprint showdown for the finish.
"And what a finish it was," said Ms DEWHIRST. "95,000 people came out to see the action today along the course and in Hahndorf the crowds were incredible."
"There was overwhelming support for the event today and the vibrant atmosphere reached it's peak when the world's best cyclists thundered down Main Street treating fans to a thrilling finish," said Ms DEWHIRST.
The stage results did not impact on the overall lead with SACCHI still wearing the Jacob's Creek Leader's Jersey but McEWEN has narrowed the gap to ten seconds.
Third across the line after today's 3hr 53min 04sec stage, O'GRADY, has now moved to eighth overall, 27 seconds behind SACCHI.
Stage 3 - January 23, 2003: Glenelg - Hahndorf, 164 km:
1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto Domo 3.53.04 (42.2 km/h)
2 Graeme Brown (Aus) Panaria Fiordo
3 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole
4 Allan Davis (Aus) ONCE Eroski
5 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quickstep-Davitamon
6 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep-Davitamon
7 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Ag2R
8 Dirk Reichl (Ger) Telekom
9 Andy Flickinger (Fra) Ag2R
10 Mark Scanlon (Irl) Ag2R
11 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Saeco-Longoni Sport
12 Luke Roberts (Aus) UniSA
13 Stefen Wesemann (Ger) Telekom
14 Lilian Jegou (Fra) Credit Agricole