Michael Matthews of Rabobank has won Stage 3 of the Santos Tour Down Under, but the big talking point of the day relates to events that took place minutes after that trio crossed the line, with police reopening the roads to traffic before cyclists including HTC-Highroad sprinter Mark Cavendish had completed the 129.7km stage from Unley to Stirling, which concluded with three laps of a 21km circuit.
Cavendish, batterered and bruised from a crash towards the end of yesterday’s Stage 2, came home 12 minutes 29 seconds after Matthews had crossed the line, with the Manx rider, together with Movistar’s Jose Vincente Garcia and Lampre-ISD’s Matteo Bono, forced to dodge traffic which by now had been let onto the race route.
Needless to say, Cavendish was highly unimpressed wit the organisation and vented his fury afterwards. "I did the whole last lap on open road, you had to stand on all sides of the thing and stop for traffic," he said, as reported by AFP.
Questioned as to whether he had needed to deal with much motor vehicle traffic, Cavendish replied: "Quite a bit yeah, you know, more than you want in a professional race I think."
Race director Mike Turtur, who has already come under criticism due to the gravel patches on the road surface that are thought to have caused the crashes during Stage 2, including the one that left Cavendish with blood pouring from cuts to his face, promised to hold an emergency meeting to find out what had happened.
"We've had a policy in place whereby the green light vehicle is the last vehicle on the road behind the last rider, for 13 years," he explained.
"For whatever reason, our understanding is that green light vehicle was called forward of the Cavendish group with about 10 km to go and we don't know the reason why.
"Until we know how and why, I can't make any further comment -- but it's not the policy we've had in place for 13 years, it's never happened before.
"It's not good, but sometimes these things happen,” he added. “We'll be meeting as soon as possible with police."
Cavendish, who now occupies the lanterne rouge position in the overall standings, said that he had suffered from the after-effects of Wednesday’s crash, saying: "I can't complain really, it's just bike racing. You have good days and bad days."
Cavenidh added that he had taken painkillers which he said "make you a bit lethargic and mess with your guts a bit, but it's the same for everybody. I'm just tired, a bit sore."
He concluded: "Sometimes you come off OK, other times you come off pretty bad. I came off pretty bad, but in the grand scheme of things I reckon I've been pretty lucky."
In the racing, Cavendish’s HTC-Highroad team mate Matt Goss got back into the race leader’s ochre jersey after picking up bonus seconds for finishing third. His former team mate Andre Greipel, winner of the race in 2008 and 2010, finished second on the stage and now occupies the same position overall.
RadioShack’s Robbie McEwen and Team Sky’s Ben Swift, second and third in the overall standings this morning, both finished in the lead group of 24 riders but drop to third and fifth respectively as a result of the bonus seconds picked up by the first three finishers.
Stage winner Matthews, who won the under-23 road race at last autumn's UCI Road World Championships in Geelong, claimed voctory with a perfectly timed run to the line.
"It's unbelievable," said Matthews, who has stepped up to the ProTeam ranks with Rabobank after riding last year's race with the the UniSA-Australia national team. "This is probably one of the most difficult stages I've ridden and one of the most difficult in this tour. It's really great to win this one and thanks to my team.
"They worked very well today (and) I couldn't have done without them," continued Matthews, nicknamed 'Bling' as a result of his fondness for body piercings and flashy jewellery.
"With about a lap to go I wasn't feeling too good, but my team came back and geed me up, they were amazing to me the whole race, getting me motivated for the sprint, saying I could do it," he continued.
"In the last three or four kilometres Tom Leezer just led me to the front, I was sitting at fiftieth wheel at the back and he brought me straight to the front and put me in a great position for the sprint.
"With about one kilometre to go, I felt pretty good and I had a look around, there were only a couple of sprinters there. I was a bit worried about Gossy because he's really fast and he's won (a stage) already, but I had the legs in the end, I guess."
Defending champion Greipel said afterwards: "I am just upset because I couldn't do my sprint like I wanted to. The lead up guys boxed me in and I was next to the barrier and I couldn't launch my sprint, so it is upsetting for the team. There are three stages to go and we still have an opportunity to win overall and that's what we're going for."
Goss, meanwhile, struggled to keep his hopes of the overall victory alive after suffering a puncture during the final lap of the closing circuit.
"The last 10km was super, super hard, I had a super-hard chase, we couldn't get the back wheel into my bike, so I had to change to my spare bike," he revealed. "I had a long chase just to get back and there was no respite on that hill, it was pretty nasty.
"(But) I wasn't too panicked, there were still 10-12km to go, I had time to get back in," said Goss. "The other guys are super-strong, Hayden Roulston did a great job for me today, Bernie Eisel did a great job to get me back to the bunch in the last few kilometres.
"I had nothing more to beat Matthews, he was too fast, too strong."
"It was a very hard way to get the jersey back, but I'm happy to be back in it," Goss added. "We'll be right for the rest of the week, yesterday was a bit disappointing, but you can't help crashes (and) there were a lot of people worse off than me."
Tomorrow’s Stage 4 takes the riders 124km from Norwood to Strathalbyn.
Santos Tour Down Under Stage 3 Result 1 Michael Matthews Rabobank 03:11:47 2 Andre Greipel Omega Pharma-Lotto st 3 Matt Goss HTC-Highroad st 4 Simon Gerrans Team Sky st 5 Luke Roberts UNI SA-Australia st 6 Francisco Ventoso Movistar st 7 Gorka Izagirre Euskadi-Euskaltel st 8 Allan Davis Astana st 9 Biel Kadri AG2R La Mondiale st 10 Simone Ponzi Liquigas-Cannondae st Santos Tour Down Under overall standings after Stage 3 1 Matt Goss HTC-Highroad 09:56:25 2 Andre Greipel Omega Pharma-Lotto 2 secs 3 Robbie McEwen Team RadioShack 4 secs 4 Michael Matthews Rabobank st 5 Ben Swift Team Sky st 6 Allan Davis Rabobank 14 secs 7 Francisco Ventoso Movistar st 8 Manuele Mori Lampre-ISD st 9 Alessandro Ballan BMC Racing st 10 Greg Henderson Team Sky st
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.