Two crashes -the former of which also involved Castrillo- hold up Spaniard from Movistar Team, out of GC contention as Prades, Mas, Valls stay into selected first group (45 riders).
The intense heat and, above that, the continuous going up and down of the Uraidla circit -ending point of stage three in the Tour Down Under– made for a race of attrition inside the peloton of the inaugural UCI WorldTour round of 2019. The Movistar Team kept most of its powder dry, yet came one man down in terms of GC contention as Rubén Fernández suffered a pair of incidents which had him out of the selected first group through the finis line -less than 50 riders-.
— Santos Tour Down Under 🚴🚴♀️ (@tourdownunder) January 17, 2019
A crash with less than 40km remaining affected both Rubén and team-mate Jaime Castrillo. As the latter was dropped following Wednesday’s breakaway, Fernández’s bike changed forced him to try and bridge back, yet another crash had him changing bikes again and ultimately losing contact with the GC group.
At the front, and despite furious, late attempts from the likes of Kenny Elissonde (SKY) or Mike Woods (EF1), three of the Blues stayed inside the main peloton: Edu Prades (17th over the line), Lluis Mas and Rafa Valls, all of them still with the same time (+15″) overall behind race leader Patrick Bevin (CPT). The incredibly fast sprint, into a slight downhill, was won by former World Champion Peter Sagan (BOH) in front of Luis León Sánchez (AST).
Stage four on Friday will bring the first real battle between the candidates to the Tour Down Under’s ochre jersey, as the Corkscrew Road hill (2.5km at 9%) is covered just six kilometers away from Campbelltown’s finish in yet another short race (129km).
Picture (c): Dario Belingheri / BettiniPhoto.net