Tom-Jelte Slagter of the Netherlands claimed the first stage win of his professional career when he won the third stage of the Tour Down Under yesterday, while Britain’s Geraint Thomas retained the overall race lead.
Slagter, of the Blanco Pro Cycling team, finished fourth on Wednesday’s third stage.
His stage win carried a 10 second time bonus which allowed him to close the gap on Thomas to less than five seconds at the midpoint of the six-stage race.
Australia’s Matthew Goss was second on the 139km stage between Unley and Stirling while world road racing champion Philippe Gilbert was third.
The stage included five laps of a circuit around the town of Stirling in the Adelaide Hills and an uphill finish which tested even the accomplished sprinters.
The first and longest attack of the race featured the Australian namesakes Simon Clarke and William Clarke, who led by three minutes and 25 seconds after 30km.
However, with positions on general classification still defined by seconds, the peloton was not prepared to allow any break to get too far ahead.
Eight riders briefly got away, but the presence of Andrey Amador of the Movistar team among the leading group ensured the bunch kept them within its sights. Amador was close enough on general classification to be a threat.
Later, Simon Clarke, Valerio Agnoli of Italy and Tiago Pinto Machado of Portugal took turns at the front before the peleton approached the finish.
David Tanner of Australia provided an outstanding leadout for Slagter and the Dutch rider capitalized to win comfortably.
“It’s incredible. I can’t believe it,” Slagter said. “I saw on the screen behind me that I was the first one and I was looking on the screen behind me. I thought they were coming, but I was the strongest.”
“David Tanner was incredible. He told me he would drop me off in the final few hundred meters and he did it in a perfect way,” he said.
Thomas finished fourth on the stage to remain first overall ahead of Slagter, Javier Moreno of Spain and Ben Hermans of Belgium.