Evans Soars to Stage 3 Victory at 2014 Tour Down Under
Australian Cadel Evans has wrenched the leader's jersey from the shoulders of compatriot Simon Gerrans with a stunning solo victory across the line at the end of stage 3 of the Santos Tour Down Under 2014.
36 year old Evans pounced on the Corkscrew Road climb, 10 kilometres from the finish of the 145 kilometer stage. With Tasmanian Richie Porte (Team Sky) on his wheel Evans powered up the hill surging clear of Gerrans (Team GreenEdge). Evans then delivered a knockout surge that left Porte in his wake before he kicked his strong descending and time trial skills into gear to open up a lead on his pursuers.
"I had an idea of the opportunity I could get on Corkscrew climb and I knew what to do," said Evans after an excited crowd supported him all the way to the finish line. "My team did a fantastic job to position me where I had to be. I had been training well but winning is what we are here for.
"It’s amazing to be back racing in Australia and win," Evans explained. "A stage race is all about the leader’s jersey and time bonus is the key to win this race overall."
Evans collected a 10 second time bonus which, along with the 15 second lead he had at the finish line, has put him 12 seconds clear of Gerrans in the race for the 2014 Santos Tour Down Under crown.
"We’ll see how it goes in the next stages," said Evans cautiously. "I haven’t won the general classification yet."
Australian Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp-Castelli) led home the chasing group of twelve riders to place second with yesterday's stage winner Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) of Italy third. Ulissi is also sitting third overall, 15 seconds off the lead.
For Gerrans it was about limiting his time loss as he watched Evans ride clear on the Category One graded climb that features steep, challenging switchbacks.
"The Corkscrew is one of the toughest climbs, especially when it comes at such a crucial part of the stage," said Gerrans who is now in second place overall, 12 seconds off Evans lead. "Everyone is going 100 percent and that was their opportunity to make their mark on the race.
"Cadel (Evans) and Richie (Porte) jumped on the steep section. I sort of bided my time, and then accelerated over toward them," Gerrans explained. "I got to Richie, but Cadel slipped away. Then he managed to pull away on the downhill. The difficult part of that downhill, is that you only need five seconds, and you're out of sight. I didn't spot him again until we got near the bottom.
"It won't be easy to get back [the time], but it's not impossible," said Gerrans who leads the Adam Internet Sprint competition. "It's not going to be easy for Cadel. We're going to throw everything at him, that's for sure."
"I’m disappointed to lose the ochre jersey but it’s not over."
Evans and Porte are tipped to be major rivals for Grand Tour honours at this year's Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) but today Evans was clearly superior.
"Cadel was absolutely flying, I tried to go with him in those hairpins, I couldn't stay with him, and he got away," said Porte. "It's a little disappointing,