Santos Tour Down Under Stage 3: André Greipel back in leader's jersey after second stage win
Lotto-Belisol rider too strong for rivals again but plays down chances for winning race for record third time
André Greipel of Lotto-Belisol has won his second stage of the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under, taking the sprint in Victor Harbor from FDJ’s Yauheni Hutarovich and Team Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen.
The German is also back in the ochre leader’s jersey of the race he won in 2008 and 2010, setting a new record for the total number of days a rider has led the Tour Down Under.
Griepel, who won Sunday’s Down Under Classic as well as Stage 1 of the Tour Down Under itself, now leads the race by eight seconds from BMC Racing’s Martin Kohler, with Rabobank’s Michael Matthews a further four seconds back in third.
"This victory is for Jurgen Roelandts who unfortunately supports us from the hospital," Greipel said afterwards.
Roelandts broke a bone in his neck during the big crash that marred the end of Stage 1 of the race in Clare on Monday.
"We're nearly three riders down but the rest of the team that is not injured has been awesome today,” Greipel added.
"I'm happy to get back into the lead but the time bonus [10 seconds for the stage win] I got again isn't important in my mind."
Greipel, however, admits that the hilltop finish of Stage 5 at Willunga means that it is impossible for him to achieve his third overall victory in the race this year.
"The Willunga stage (is too hard for me to win GC this year,” he confessed. “With two stage wins, we've already reached our goal. We can't have everything and we just take it day by day."
Today’s 134.5km stage from Unley took the peloton through the scenic McLaren Vale as well as the Fleurieu peninsula and saw an early attack from Katusha’s Eduard Vorganov, Jan Bakelants of RadioShack-Nissan-Trek and Vacansoleil-DCM’s Thomas De Gendt.
Omega Pharma – Quickstep’s Matt Brammeier also made it across to that group, which at one stage built a lead of five minutes, but the peloton, which had yesterday failed to catch Uni SA’s Will Clarke, wasn’t going to make that mistake twice.
However, the break did give De Gendt the chance to overtake Clarke at the top of the mountains classification after the Belgian crested the summit of the Category 2 Sellicks Hill first.
De Gendt also took the day’s two intermediate sprints, and while Brammeier tried to attack again, the break was doomed to failure.
"Three of the four riders had the same goal and that was to take the second sprint and then after that we just wanted to go back to the peloton," De Gendt explained.
The bonus seconds he picked up a today’s intermediate sprints see De Gendt rise to fourth overall, although he is playing down his chances for the rest of the race.
"The legs are not so good but I will try to attack,” he revealed. “I think tomorrow is the best for me just to stay in the peloton and then Old Willunga Hill is going to be so hard but I am going to try and be in the front."
The peloton caught Brammeier ahead of a fast and frantic final few kilometres as the sprinters’ teams jostled for position.
"It was our intention to keep the breakaway in sight with a good gap,” said Greipel. “The crosswinds have made the race faster. The one kilometre to go mark was the most important point of today's stage," he added.
"I told my team-mates 'I need to be in fifth or sixth position at that point. They did a great job to put me there and I finished it off."
Tomorrow's BUPA Stage 4 heads from Norwood in the Adelaide suburbs to the Barossa wine-growing region for a finish in Tanunda.
The stage coincides with the BUPA Challenge Tour sportive which follows the same 130km route, with legend Eddy Merckx joining participants on the closing loop.
Santos Tour Down Under Stage 3 result
1 André GREIPEL LTB 3:21:55
2 Yauheni HUTAROVICH FDJ All at same time
3 Edvald BOASSON HAGEN SKY
4 Mark RENSHAW RAB
5 Robbie MCEWEN GEC
6 Jacopo GUARNIERI AST
7 Heinrich HAUSSLER GRM
8 Daniele BENNATI RSH
9 Manuel BELLETTI ALM
10 Christopher SUTTON SKY
11 Matteo TRENTIN OPQ
12 Michael MATTHEWS RAB
13 Romain FEILLU VCD
14 Jonathan CANTWELL SAX
15 Gerald CIOLEK OPQ
16 Steele VON HOFF AUS
17 Jose Joaquin ROJAS MOV
18 Xavier FLORENCIO KAT
19 William BONNET FDJ
20 Simon GERRANS GEC
Overall standings after Stage 3
1 André GREIPEL LTB 11:54:52
2 Martin KOHLER BMC +8
3 Michael MATTHEWS RAB +12
4 Thomas DE GENDT VCD +14
5 Simon GERRANS GEC +16
6 Jan BAKELANTS RSH +16
7 Edvald BOASSON HAGEN SKY +16
8 Eduard VORGANOV KAT +16
9 Rohan DENNIS AUS +17
10 Xavier FLORENCIO KAT +20