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Saturday, January 21, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

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Tour Down Under stage 3 reports

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Here’s the report from stage winner Pello Bilbao’s Team Bahrain Victorious:

Starting in Norwood and all the way to the north-east of the capital city, the peloton tackled 3 of Adelaide’s toughest ascents in Stage 3. Within these 3 categorized climbs, Corkscrew Road(2.4km/9%) is just 6km before the finish in Campbelltown. To join the competition of stage victory, these were some of the most difficult climbs to conquer.

Teams aiming on General Classification made it difficult and tried to blow up the peloton on Corkscrew Road with the maximum 15% gradient. The short but sharp uphill turned out to be crucial for today’s race. The section is just long enough for Simon Yates and Jay Vine to break away from the leading group.

Steady working his way back to the leading duo, Pello Bilbao joined the leaders and led the 3-man group on the downhill. Our Basque rider did what he is always good at. In the final kilometer, Vine was the one who kept the pace high while Pello managed to position himself well and strongly launch off the Australian before holding onto the race win.

After another victorious day in South Australia, Pello gained himself 14 places and he is now second on GC, 15 seconds behind Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates).

Stage three winner Pello Bilbao. Sirotti photo

“Yesterday we were a bit disappointed because the race did not go as we expected, losing some seconds in the finish line. Today this was the best for me, short and explosive kicks with the fast descent until the finish line. I had some difficulty joining Yates and Vine. I had to do my best and join them in the last 300 meters [of the climb].”

“I knew I was going to have a good possibility, as they were also looking for the overall, and I was more focusing on making my best sprint and trying to win today. I really enjoy working with Neil Stephens. He really looks into details. It is a pleasure to do his home race and also to give this victory to him. He is going to be very proud of the guys who just did a perfect job for me.”

Comment from Neil Stephens, our sports director: “A fantastic team victory today here in the Tour Down Under. We were really clear in our mind that Pello was a strong candidate for the win today. Obviously yesterday we weren’t with the front riders. We knew if we put our heads together, work strong as a team right from the start, we would have all the options to try to be with the first riders up the Corkscrew into the stage finish. 

"The boys did a fantastic job. It was really hard to try to beat Yates and Vine. Simon Yates bettered Pello few years ago in Tour de France. But today Pello was able to outsprint Simon Yates to the finish line. Once again it shows the hard work the whole Bahrain Victorious Team has done throughout the winter months. Once again we will try to push forward, try to make sure this season really start with a bang. We are not finished yet. There are a couple more hard stages to come. And we are also fighting for the podium of GC.”

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Here's the Down Under report from new GC leader Jay Vine's UAE Team Emirates:

UAE Team Emirates took a significant result on stage 3 of the Tour Down Under in Australia with Jay Vine taking the 3rd place and control of the race lead on the hilly run-in from Norwood to Campbelltown (116.8km).

Jay Vine is the new race leader. Sirotti photo

The 27 year old local favourite was in touching distance of the leaders jersey held by Rohan Dennis (Jumbo-Visma) coming into the stage at just +3 seconds. With this in mind Vine kicked-out for home inside the final 10km on the ascent of Corkscrew Hill with only Simon Yates (Jayco-Alula) and Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) able to follow the flying Australian.

This winning trio would work together well on the descent into Campbelltown, with Vine taking the biggest turns spurred on by the possibility of moving into the coveted Ochre leaders jersey.

Pello Bilbao came through for the stage victory in the sprint ahead of Yates with Vine rounding out the podium.

The Emirati squad holds a commanding position in the race heading into stage 4 from Port Willunga to Willunga Township (133.2km) with the lead in the teams classification and Vine also leading the KOM standings.

Vine: “I love it when a plan comes together. I couldn’t have done that without my teammates who set it up for me, all I had to do was to go on the last hill so all credit to them, they did an amazing job. There was a big group behind us and we were aware they could come back so we put our heads down and really pushed on at the front. It’s pretty special to be here wearing the leaders jersey and hopefully take it home on Sunday. There are a few hard days ahead so I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch.”

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Here’s the update from stage three second-place Simon Yates' Team Jayco AlUla:

After misfortune on yesterday’s stage which saw Australian rider Michael Matthews’ dreams of overall success hampered, Team Jayco AlUla bounced back in style today, with Simon Yates launching himself over the Corkscrew climb and into the race winning move, before taking a stunning second place on stage three of the Santos Tour Down Under.

Simon Yates, left, finishes second to Pello Bilbao. Sirotti photo

With a blistering pace set up the famous twisty climb, only Yates, Jay Vine and Pello Bilbao remained in contention over the top and the trio barrelled down the descent towards the finish line in Campbell Town, with Yates hunting down his first victory on Australian soil.

The downhill sprint opened up with Bilbao just edging out the Vuelta a España champion for the victory. The Brit had to settle for second place by the narrowest of margins, but with the top stage result and subsequent bonus second catapulting him up the general classification into third place, just 16 second down on the new race leader Vine.

Displaying his incredible early season form, behind Matthews positioned himself well in the chasing group to take the sprint finish for fourth place which moved him into the points classification lead.

With a big weekend of racing still to come, the overall victory is still very much within reach for the Australian team and a stage win is still a major motivation.

Simon Yates - 2nd place:
“I tried to play my cards today and Jay Vine was strong on the climb, so there wasn’t much room to try and make a move there. We had good cooperation down the other side, I knew Bilbao was fast, I tried to come around him and in the end in was pretty close, so I am a bit disappointed really. I obviously wanted the stage win, but that is how it goes.

"We knew UAE and Vine would want to take it up today, which they did, we were well positioned into the bottom of the climb, so we had no drama there because that was quite dangerous and then it was just all about what the legs had. Vine obviously looked really strong today and so did his team, but you never know until you try, so we will assess the situation with the general classification and take it from there. There's still two big days to come so it is not over yet.”

Michael Matthews - 4th place:
" Today was back to business and it was a good day for us. We basically stuck to the same plan as we would have today, if I hadn’t had the mechanical yesterday. Yates is obviously in great shape and this climb suited him really well. He took second on the stage and moved up to third overall, I took fourth and now the points jersey, so overall it was a good day for us, and we can see we have the form. We still have two really good opportunities left in this race.”

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And here’s the report from former GC leader Rohan Dennis’ Team Jumbo-Visma:

Rohan Dennis has lost his leading position in the Tour Down Under. During the third stage, the Australian struggled to maintain his lead on the flanks of Corkscrew Road. A few moments later, Milan Vader finished in the top ten for the first time in a WorldTour race.

Rohan Dennis before the start of stage three. Sirotti photo

The 116-kilometre stage had three obstacles along the way. The peloton began the stage with a climb to the top of Norton Summit before continuing to Corkscrew Road, the highlight of the day, via Checker Hill. Two riders tried to escape, but their attempt failed.

Just before Corkscrew Road, the peloton accelerated. After Dennis was forced to switch bikes, a sizable group attacked the Australian's classification position soon after the foot of the day's last hill. Dennis tried to keep up on the climb with gradients of up to 20 percent, but the 32-year-old rider was not strong enough.

A few minutes later, Vader rode to a respectable eighth place in a group behind day winner Pello Bilbao.

When Vader learned he could ride for his own chance, he indicated he had to shift gears for a moment. "That was a bit tricky as the situation in the race was confusing. Rohan was in my wheel, and there was a small gap to the riders in front. I attempted to close it, but Rohan said he was no longer strong enough. I then needed to check and discuss with the team management whether it would be wise to ride for my own chance. By riding at my own pace, I was able to pass a lot of riders. Once I joined the sizeable group, I decided to sprint for places of honour at the finish”, the rider describes his first top-ten ranking in the WorldTour.

"It’s too bad that we had to give up the leader's jersey”, Vader added. "On a personal level, I'm glad everything went well. I want to enjoy every moment, and I am improving every day by picking up new skills. That is pleasant to experience, and it gives confidence for the rest of the season."

"Sadly, we were unable to follow up on yesterday's fantastic day”, sports director Addy Engels said. "Rohan had to change bikes at a bad moment. He still came back strong and fast, but it wasn’t enough. He was held up by a crash as well, which left him in a bad position at the foot of Corkscrew Road. He also lacked the proper form today. Rohan communicated this through his earpiece and indicated that Milan could ride for his own chance. He picked that up quickly. For him, eighth place is a great result. It demonstrates Milan's qualities."

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