Fernández -already remarkable at the 2015 Tour Down Under- makes front group through Corkscrew Road, finishes 10th at first key stage in Australia
Rubén Fernández's goal to be again on top of his game at the start of the season made sense today as the Murcia-born rider took his first top result of 2016. The 2013 Tour de l'Avenir champion finished 10th on stage three of the Tour Down Under, the first big duel within GC contenders with the Corkscrew Road climb (2.5km at 9%) located just five kilometers from a tricky finish in Campbelltown (139km), causing many scares to a bunch not holding back.
A crash with 15km remaining, with no Movistar Team riders involved, forced the riders directed by José Luis Arrieta to react quickly. Oliveira helped to close the gap -after teamwork from Sütterlin, Sutherland and Lobato, who took 2" bonus into one of the intermediate rushes, having done their part early on-, as the telephone squad set Fernández, Jesús Herrada and José Joaquín Rojas at the fore of a furious peloton on the foot of the climb.
While the two former Spanish road champions struggled as Richie Porte (BMC) made a first acceleration -both finishing at 22", into a first peloton of about 25 riders-, Rubén stayed with the main contenders following a move from Mike Woods (CPT) and Sergio Henao (SKY), who crested with a few meters' advantage. Helped by chasing work from BMC, the Spaniard tried to lead the sprint home early. He would close the day's, top-ten, as Simon Gerrans (OGE) narrowly bested countryman Rohan Dennis (BMC) for the victory.
The new GC sees Rubén Fernández jumping onto 7th place -second best Young rider-, 15" behind Gerrans, while Rojas (18th) and Herrada (25th) remain in contention at 37". The race will head towards the coast tomorrow in Victor Harbor (138km), with the Port Elliot KOM near the finish, before it gets decided on Saturday with the long-awaited two Old Willunga Hill climbs on stage five.