What a fantastic day to be out and about for the Tour Down Under today, with Cadel Evans surging up the Corkscrew to take the King of the Mountain points and then fly into Campbelltown to take the stage win and the lead in the General Classification.
It’s not easy to get to the Corkscrew, with Corkscrew Road closed all day and the stage taking the riders along the surrounding areas, if you’re not on a bike it takes some careful planning to get yourself there, but you wouldn’t know it with car parking at a premium and thousands of riders making the trek to watch the action.
Some keen spectators got there as early as 8am, while many of the cyclists took this opportunity to do repeats up and down the Corkscrew, lapping up the adulation of those lining the course.
One of the interested spectators was Noel McCarthy, owner of Bike Station, who luckily managed to secure the day off to come and watch the action with a number of his mates all adorned in Bike Station jerseys.
When the helicopters could be heard in the distance – a sure sign the riders are not far away – everyone was on their feet and trying to find a position as best they could, the hill literally jam packed and the atmosphere nothing short of electric.
And the noise when the crowd finally got a peek of the leading rider and realising it was crowd favourite Cadel Evans (BMC) was deafening. Cheering, whistling and a constant ring of cow bells greeted Evans as he reached the summit; it was one of those sporting moments where you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world. Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEDGE) and Richie Porte (Sky Procycling) were also treated to rapturous applause as they attempted to catch Evans, but it was to no avail as Evans was just too good on the day.
The pace the leaders went up the Corkscrew had split the peloton, with riders coming through in dribs and drabs, many chosing to play up to the crowd, Marcel Sieberg (Lotto Belisol) waving like a madman, Mikhail Ignatyev (Katusha) climbing out of the saddle and sprinting to the top with his tongue hanging out and a number of wheelies, with the best from Neil Van Der Ploeg (Uni SA) and Stig Broecxk (Lotto Belisol).
Earlier in the day the stage started from a packed Parade in Norwood, with the Cafes doing a roaring trade as people chose to have a bite to eat before watching the race roll out.
There were penny farthings being ridden, people offering the riders gifts – including one young lady who gave giant roses to Jens Voigt (Trek) and Marcel Kittel (Giant Shimano), and lots of people setting up picnics on the free tables provided by the local Council.
The Tour Parade was also doing a roaring trade, handing out their freebies to the crowd. Krystil Ellis from the Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure was so swamped for her Department’s bike shaped sunglasses promoting cycling instead of using other forms of transport that she ran out an hour before the stage was due to start.
Mike Turtur, Tour Director, led the riders out of Norwood to a large roar from the crowd and Stage 3 was underway.
This stage was incredibly difficult to catch the riders in action due to the course chosen, but it gave me an opportunity to test out the Skoda in the country terrain and see if I could beat the riders to the first sprint point in Kersbrook, which I’m happy to report we did with minutes to spare, no small thanks to the Skoda.
A small crowd was there to cheer the riders as Travis Meyer (Drapac) secured the win in the first Adam Internet sprint from Andriy Grivko (Astana) and Jerome Cousin (Europcar).
Colin Thomas had one of the best views in the house as he attended a Tour party at his niece’s house which was situated conveniently at the finish line looking down onto the course.
Watching the action intently was a group of mates who’d had their own jerseys created specially for the Tour, each with their nickname on the back. Corey Knight said he’d come from Canowindra for the race, with most of the others from Coffs Harbour. It had been a brain child of David Munro a few tours ago, this group making their 3rd visit to the Tour.
Once the peloton passed through the sprint point, there was no time to catch them in action again, so we made our way to the Corkscrew to secure our spot.
With the stage finish coming just 7 kilometres after the summit of the Corkscrew, there would not have been time to make it into Campbelltown so we made our way back to the Tour Village. The riders head back to the Village after each stage, mingling with the crowd – another fantastic part of this event as the fans are able to get up and close with their heroes just minutes after competing.
The race is also hotting up, with Cadel Evans now holding a 12 second advantage over Simon Gerrans in the General Classification, and Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) in third, 15 seconds behind Evans.
Gerrans retains the lead in the Adam Internet Sprint Classification with 42 points, Ulissi second with 40 points and Evans rocketing into third place on 35 points.
Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol) and William Clarke (Drapac) are still tied for the Skoda King of the Mountains Classification, but after his efforts on the Corkscrew today Evans is now third, just 4 points behind the leaders.
After an impressive effort on the day’s stage, Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) has taken the lead in the Cycle Instead Young Rider Classification with a 17 second advantage over Luca Wackermann (Lampre-Merida) and Jack Haig (Uni SA).
Tomorrow sees the amateurs ride the course route before the Professionals with the Bupa Challenge taking them from Unley to Victor Harbor. It promises to be another great day of action in what so far has been an action packed Tour.