Dennis attacks to win Stage 3

Rohan Dennis of BMC Racing catapulted himself into the overall lead of the Santos Tour Down Under after securing an emotional victory on Stage 3.

Dennis dedicated the win to his father, Brenton, who was unable to attend the stage as he was in hospital, having suffered a fractured pelvis in a bike crash earlier that day.

The climb up Torrens Hill was expected to shape the race and it didn’t disappoint, with Dennis riding away from teammate Cadel Evans and Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) 200 metres from the summit of the Category 1 King of the Mountain climb, then holding his advantage to the finish line a further 300 metres up the road to secure the stage win.

BMC had devised a plan to have Dennis attack halfway up the climb in order to set the race up for Evans but he wasn’t close enough to the front at that time.

There was some suggestion that Evans wasn’t impressed that Dennis decided to go for the stage win so late, although he was seen bumping fists with BMC support crew after the stage, suggesting he was happy to support his protégé.

When asked how the win would change the team’s plans, Dennis said “I have the ochre jersey now but Cadel and I are still both protected, there’s still Willunga and a lot of racing to come”.

Evans played down any talk of unrest in the team, stating after the race that “we had a plan, covering two bases, but I want to lend a favour to my teammates when I can, so we wanted to give Rohan and Peter (Stetina) the chance to make an attack anywhere they could. That move really worked for us, and I am sure Rohan is going to be pretty happy.”

The win saw Dennis move 7 seconds clear at the top of the General Classification, with Evans second and Dumoulin third, 9 seconds back.

A four-man breakaway containing Will Clarke (Drapac), Axel Domont (AG2R-La Mondiale), Lasse Norman Hansen (Cannondale-Garmin) and Calvin Watson (Trek Racing) formed early and stayed away for most of the day, and Clarke made the most of his time out in front by winning all 3 sprints to bank some useful pocket money.

Cadel Evans now shares the lead in the iiNet Sprint Classification with Tom Dumoulin, both riders amassing 25 points, with yesterday’s stage winner Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) just 1 point adrift in third position.

By taking the KOM points, Dennis has also assumed control of the Subaru King of the Mountain jersey, his total of 16 points giving him a lead of 4 over Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R-La Mondiale).

At just 24 years of age, Dennis also leads the Young Riders Classification, with Dumoulin just 9 seconds behind and Jack Haig (Uni SA) a further 6 seconds back.

Much of the interest now will focus around the tactics of BMC; will they continue to try setup Evans for the overall win in his final World Tour Race or will they work for Dennis? It is likely to all depend on the two climbs up Willunga Hill on Stage 5, as tomorrow’s Stage 4 is expected to result in a bunch sprint.

Tomorrow sees the race take in 144km from seaside Glenelg to Mount Barker in the Adelaide Hills, and with the course following the coastline for the first 44kms, it is sure to make for picturesque viewing.

Stage 3 Top 10: 143.2km, Norwood – Paracombe

1 Rohan Dennis (AUS) BMC Racing 3hr 35min 8sec

2 Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC Racing 0:00:03

3 Tom Dumoulin (NED) Giant-Alpecin

4 Maxim Bouet (FRA) Etixx-Quick Step 0:00:05

5 Michael Rogers (AUS) Tinkoff-Saxo

6 Riche Porte (AUS) Sky

7 Jack Haig (AUS) UniSA-Australia

8 Ruben Fernandez (ESP) Movistar

9 Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) AG2R La Mondiale

10 Simon Geschke (GER) Giant-Alpecin 0:00:13

General Classification Top 10

1 Rohan Dennis (AUS) BMC Racing 10hr 17min 6sec

2 Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC Racing 0:00:07

3 Tom Dumoulin (NED) Giant-Alpecin 0:00:09

4 Riche Porte (AUS) Sky 0:00:15

5 Jack Haig (AUS) UniSA-Australia

6 Ruben Fernandez (ESP) Movistar

7 Michael Rogers (AUS) Tinkoff-Saxo

8 Maxim Bouet (FRA) Etixx-Quick Step

9 Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) AG2R La Mondiale

10 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEDGE 0:00:22

Breakaway basket range Bunch through feed station Calvin Watson takes food Evans after finish Evans looking relaxed Kennaugh prepares Kittel gets ready Paracombe cheer Dennis Peloton heading towards Lobethal Peloton ready to roll Puccio interviewed Riders seeking shade Rohan Dennis after finish Scenic views for breakaway Simon Clarke after finish Sky head the peloton Sky on the front Sky travel in style

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