Tom-Jelte Slagter has taken Blanco Pro Cycling’s maiden win in Stage 3 of the Santos Tour Down Under, attacking from 350 metres out and staying ahead of a rapidly closing Matt Goss of Orica-GreenEdge and world champion Philippe Gilbert of BMC Racing. Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas was fourth and retains the overall lead, with Slagter moving up to second, 5 seconds down.
Thomas’s lead had looked briefly under threat in what proved to be a tough conclusion to 139-kilometre stage from Unley, however, as RadioShack Leopard Trek’s Tiago Machado, who started the day tenth overall with a deficit of 14 seconds, went on the attack from a little less than 5 kilometres out.
That move came shortly after earlier escapees had been swept up, and it briefly looked as though the stage might even come down to a sprint finish until Machado made his move, the response of Sky and others as the road headed uphill causing riders to be shelled out the back.
Using the road well – five previous laps of the circuit in Stirling had given the Portuguese rider, third overall in last year’s race, plenty of opportunity to learn its nuances – the RadioShack man seemed to have a commanding lead with a little over 2 kilometres left.
Suddenly, however, the peloton was on him as the road continued to drag up towards the finish. Ahead of the flamme rouge, Cameron Worth of Cannondale made a short-lived bid for a home win, and next it was Blanco’s David Tanner who moved to the front, team mate Slagter in his wheel.
The 23-year-old Dutchman, sixth overall in the Tour of Oman last year and wearing the colourful jersey of best young rider today, kicked for the line, his rivals countering too late.
“"I couldn’t expect anything better for my first pro win,” he reflected afterwards, and it’s also the first victory for Blanco, the team that formerly raced as Rabobank, and which may not exist by this time next year unless a new backer is found.
"I’m glad to increase my lead on the Best Young Rider classification and now I’m coming really close to the leader’s jersey too," added Slagter.
"There has been a big fight today for one second that Geraint Thomas took [at the first intermediate sprint], there will be more to come.
"Every sprint will be contested. I’m in a good position on GC. It would have been cool to have the ochre jersey, but at least I’m now confident of being one of the three best riders in this race.".
For now, Thomas remains in the race lead and afterwards the Welshman said: "The boys from my team were tremendous to control the race all day, then it was down to me to get time bonus by finishing in the top three.
"I finished fourth but I still have the jersey. I hope to keep it till the end now.
"There should be a bunch sprint tomorrow, then it’ll come down to Willunga. TJ Slagter is obviously a danger for my position but it’s not just a duel, RadioShack still has three guys up there, Movistar has a few too."
Santos Tour Down Under Stage 3 result 1 SLAGTER, Tom Jelte Blanco 3:36:46 2 GOSS, Matthew ORICA GreenEDGE All at same time 3 GILBERT, Philippe BMC 4 THOMAS, Geraint Sky Procycling 5 VISCONTI, Giovanni Movistar 6 MORENO BAZAN, Javier Movistar 7 PONZI, Simone Astana 8 PIETROPOLLI, Daniele Lampre-Merida 9 SANTAROMITA, Ivan BMC 10 IZAGIRRE, Gorka Euskaltel Euskadi 11 KELDERMAN, Wilco Blanco 12 ROJAS GIL, Jose Joaquin Movistar 13 VALLS FERRI, Rafael Vacansoleil-DCM 14 CHEREL, Mikael AG2R La Mondiale 15 BENNETT, George Radioshack Leopard 16 VEIKKANEN, Jussi FDJ 17 HUNTER, Robert Garmin Sharp 18 HERMANS, Ben Radioshack Leopard 19 HANSEN, Adam Lotto Belisol 20 BAUER, Jack Garmin Sharp Overall Standings after Stage 3 1 THOMAS, Geraint Sky Procycling 9:56:17 2 SLAGTER, Tom Jelte Blanco 0:05 3 MORENO BAZAN, Javier Movistar 0:06 4 HERMANS, Ben Radioshack Leopard 0:08 5 PIETROPOLLI, Daniele Lampre-Merida 0:15 6 IZAGIRRE, Ion Euskaltel Euskadi st 7 IZAGIRRE, Gorka Euskaltel Euskadi st 8 BENNETT, George Radioshack Leopard st 9 BAUER, Jack Garmin Sharp st 10 KELDERMAN, Wilco Blanco 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.