Tour Down Under: Cardoso clips clear, Valverde and Evans fight for second
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tour Down Under: Cardoso clips clear, Valverde and Evans fight for second

by Conal Andrews at 6:25 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour Down Under
 

Timing things to perfection, Portuguese national champion Manuel Cardoso jumped clear inside the final kilometre of today’s third stage of the Tour Down Under, opening a sizeable gap and crossing the line first in Stirling.

The Footon Servetto Fuji rider was followed home by Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) and world champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), with the big sprinters being unable to cope with the uphill drag to the line. These all finished further back in the bunch, with overall leader Andre Greipel (HTC Columbia) placing 23rd and retaining his 14 second advantage over closest rivals Greg Henderson (Team Sky) and Gert Steegmans (Team RadioShack). Valverde is now fourth.

“I’m tremendously happy, this is the biggest win in my career,” Cardoso said afterwards. “The team worked a lot to take me into the final sprint, and even though Caisse d’Epargne tried and made things harder to win with Valverde, I was able to outsprint him and notch up this great victory. The uphill finishes suit me very well and I always managed to be at my top level on them; after some low days with not enough energy, I was able to get over this and perform at my best.”

Valverde was keen to clock up his first win of the season, but missed out on Cardoso’s jump. He came back at him towards the line, yet was still a second adrift at the end.

“The route of this stage was more difficult than the previous ones, with a final that suited me very well”, the 2009 Vuelta a España winner said afterwards. “We worked hard during the entire stage to try and win today because we knew there was an opportunity to defeat the sprinters which could be in trouble on the last hill.”

“Everything was packed together just before starting the last climb. Cardoso surprised us a little bit because he attacked immediately. I was on Cadel Evans’ wheel and as soon as I understood he was not able to go and catch the Portuguese rider I attacked to try and do it myself. There was a few metres lacking to make it possible.”

Evans came into the race saying that he was short of form, having had a very busy schedule after his world championship win. He has also been on a promotional Tour for his new biography, but showed that he has good condition after all.

"It was a bit of a strange old day, a bit harder than most expected, pretty windy and the heat of course," Evans said on the official race website. "Coming into the last kilometre it was like riding in slow motion almost, everyone was so exhausted.

"It is not often I get into the last kilometre with (sprinter) Robbie McEwen, in fact never," he said. "My team are all a bit disappointed, I told them not to ride for me today, then I come third."

The stage was marked by a continuous stream of attacks, with Under 23 world time trial champion Jack Bobridge (Garmin Slipstream) one of the most aggressive. Nine went away early on and then after the first intermediate sprint, won by Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel – Euskadi), four persisted. They were Peter McDonald (UniSA), Sebastien Rosseler (Team RadioShack), Juan Ripoll Horrach (Katyusha) and Perget Mathieu (Caisse d'Epargne).

They were later joined by Mathieu Perget (Caisse d'Epargne) and Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel - Euskadi), then by Thomas Rohregger (Team Milram) and Luke Roberts (Team Milram). The latter two pushed on ahead and took the KOM points at the top of Wickhams Hill Road.

A regrouping was followed by an attack by Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne) and Cameron Meyer (Garmin Transitions), then a subsequent move by Simon Clarke (Team UniSA), Karsten Kroon (BMC Racing Team), Jack Bobridge (Garmin-Transitions), Maciej Paterski (Liquigas-Doimo) and Jens Voigt (Team Saxo Bank). Former Australian champion Matthew Lloyd (Omega Pharama – Lotto) later jumped across but even with the extra va-voom he provided, the peloton drew them all in.

Cardoso then kicked clear in the final kilometre, opening a sudden gap and holding off Valverde’s late charge. His Footon Servetto Fuji squad has thus far earned most headlines for having an eye-turning new jersey, but he said that they will command a new respect now.

“The rivals will look at us with other eyes from now on, but we’ll go on working so as to bring out results like this one.

“The most important thing for a sprinter is snatching victories: the confidence this win gives me must help me work better and think of bigger moments of success during the season. This pays back the team for the confidence they gave me.”

Valverde is aware that, potentially, he could lose out this year if the Court of Arbitration for Sport rules against him in two appeals that are being held in connection with Operacion Puerto. He’s determined to take a victory as soon as possible, and will try again in two days time.

“I will have to wait a little bit more before winning my first race this season,” he said. “But I am satisfied because I am in good condition and I believe there will be another possibility to do achieve that goal next Saturday.”

Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) is another who is likely to attack on that day’s two ascents of Old Willunga Hill. He rolled in 30th today and is 26th overall, 20 seconds behind Greipel.

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Santos Tour Down Under, Australia (ProTour, January 19-24)

Stage 3: Unley – Stirling:

1, Manuel Cardoso (Por) Footon Servetto, 132.5 kilometres in 3 hours 14 mins 38 secs
2, Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne, at 1 sec
3, Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
4, Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo
5, Mauro Finetto (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
6, Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia
7, Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram
8, Markus Fothen (Ger) Team Milram
9, Anthony Roux (Fra) Française Des Jeux
10, Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katyusha, all same time

Mountains:

1, Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Team Milram, 16 pts
2, Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram, 12
3, Valeriy Dmitriyev (Kaz) Astana, 8

Sprint 1 - McLaren Flat, km 30.9:

1, Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 6 pts
2, Peter McDonald (Aus) Team UniSA-Australia, 4
3, Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana, 2

Sprint 2 - Echunga, km 74.1:

1, Karsten Kroon (Ned) BMC Racing Team, 6 pts
2, Simon Clarke (Aus) Team UniSA-Australia, 4
3, Jack Bobridge (Aus) Garmin-Transitions, 2


Teams:

1, Footon-Servetto-Fuji, 9 hours 43 mins 56 secs
2, Milram, at 1 sec
3, Bmc Racing Team
4, Astana
5, Garmin - Transitions
6, Team Katusha


General Classification after Stage 3:

1, Andre Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia, 9 hours 53 mins 38 secs
2, Greg Henderson (NZl) Team Sky, at 14 secs
3, Gert Steegmans (Bel) Team RadioShack
4, Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne, both same time
5, Robbie McEwen (Aus) Katyusha, at 16 secs
6, Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
7, Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team, both same time
8, Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana, at 19 secs
9, Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank, at 20 secs
10, Robbie Hunter (RSA) Garmin-Transitions, same time


Mountains classification:

1, Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Team Milram, 26 pts
2, Timothy Roe (Aus) Team UniSA-Australia, 22
3, David Kemp (Aus) Team UniSA-Australia, 16
4, Mauro Finetto (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo, 14
5, Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram, 12
6, Biel Kadri (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, 12

Sprint classification:

1, Andre Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia, 16 pts
2, Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team, 12
3, Mickael Delage (Fra) Omega Pharma-Lotto, 12
4, Biel Kadri (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, 8
5, Manuel Cardoso (Por) Footon Servetto, 8
6, David Kemp (Aus) Team UniSA-Australia, 8


Young rider classification:

1, Jurgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) 9 hours 53 mins 54 secs
2, Mauro Finetto (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo, at 4 secs
3, Anthony Roux (Fra) Française Des Jeux, at 13 secs

Teams classification:

1, Ag2R La Mondiale, 29 hours 41 mins 54 secs
2, Milram
3, BMC Racing Team
4, Astana
5, Team Sky
6 , Garmin - Transitions
7, Team Katusha, all same time
8, Caisse D'Epargne, at 16 secs
9, Footon-Servetto-Fuji, at 17 secs
10, HTC-Columbia, at 23 secs

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