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Santos Tour Down Under: Blanco's Slagter moves 2nd with Stage 3 victory

First win for former Rabobank team, Sky's Geraint Thomas keeps overall lead from young Dutchman...

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

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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