Spanish youngster responds to early work by Sanz, sacrifice by Movistar Team before Torrens Hill Road; finishes 8th in Tour Down Under's stage three, climbs into sixth overall
After joy on Wednesday with their stage win from Juanjo Lobato in Stirling, the Movistar Team kept the front today in the first real GC battle of the Tour Down Under with one of their debutants: Rubén Fernández. The Murcia-based rider, only once into a WorldTour event before, was 8th at the finish of day three in Paracombe, the 143km ending atop the steep Torrens Hill Road, 1.7 kilometers with slopes exceeding 20% which caused the first real gaps between the race favourites.
The outstanding work by Enrique Sanz, always at the front controlling the early, four-man break together with UniSA and Sky, was responded by the leadout by Lastras, Capecchi, Herrada or even Lobato, who held team duties for both Gorka Izagirre and Fernández while on the red points jersey. The Basque ended up struggling after Rubén's hard pushing when a five-rider split caused a gap between him and the lead, his work profited from by Rohan Dennis (BMC) to take the stage win and the ochre jersey.
Behind the winner, Fernández closed the top favourites' group as he stays in the first sheet of the standings (6th, +15"). Both him and Gorka (15th, +27") still have a chance to do well in a race that will offer another opportunity for the sprinters on Friday -144km between Glenelg and Mount Barker- before the climbing showdown at Willunga Hill.