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10th Tour Down Under - ProT

Australia, January 20-27, 2008

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Stage 3 - Thursday, January 24: Unley - Victor Harbor , 139km

Complete live report

16:39 CST   
Tune in to Cyclingnews.com on Thursday, January 24 at 10:50 AM (CDT) for the third stage of the 10th Anniversary Tour Down Under, covering 139km from Unley to Victor Harbour.

10:54 CST   
Kiwi sprinter Greg Henderson Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)
Good morning and welcome to the Cyclingnews coverage of the third stage of the 2008 Tour Down Under, coming to you this morning from the town of Unley, just south of Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia. This morning the riders were greeted with warm and slightly overcast conditions, with a light south-east breeze and temperatures expected to reach a possible maximum of 30 degrees. There are also thunderstorms forecast for the afternoon, which could make things interesting on the run into Victor Harbour.

11:01 CST   
Once again, the crowds are out to catch a glimpse of the big international bike race. Paul Verkuylen from Cyclingnews is at the start and one of the riders he spoke to is the Italian veteran fast-finisher, Fabio Baldato, riding for the Lampre squad. He said, "I have a try yesterday (in the finale), but the Australians and some of the teams like High road are just at a higher level than us at the moment. We are definitely feeling it," he said of the early season pace.

11:05 CST    0km/139km to go
And as the flag drops for today's stage, we could expect fireworks from the gun, given there's a climb right out of Unley, except there is a 13km neutral section until the town of Sturt, where the racing really starts. If you look at the Stage 3 profile it can favour a breakaway, and so far, we've seen the French teams realy going on the offensive.

11:10 CST    0km/139km to go
A group of Astana riders relax Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)
Heinrich Haussler, the German-Aussie with Gerolsteiner, has been hoping to have a crack in the bunch kicks, but still hasn't had a good run in to the finish-line. "I was gettting a good lead-out yesterday but the cars were in the way. I hope today doesn't come down to a sprint, as I will be trying to get away." One of the Team High Road riders - and recently crowned Australian TT champion - Adam Hansen, told us that it's "tough for non-sprinters like me to get away on courses like this. We will see, I feel good ... "

11:19 CST    0km/139km to go
And as the peloton trundles up and out to the real race start at Sturt, this morning the new race leader, Graeme Brown (Rabobank) said, "It's good to start the day in the leader's jersey. It's pretty clear for the team that we have definitely got to control the race." For those of you who missed it, Brown was yesterday awarded the race leader's ochre jersey on a countback, and this was only discovered as previous race leader, Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole), was being interviewed as the ongoing leader. Renshaw shrugged his shoulders, said he "thought that might be the case", smiled and walked away. So the jersey passsed from one NSW-based trackie/roadie to another. Renshaw and Brown have also been Australian team-mates on several occasions, representing their country at the highest level, especially on the track.

11:30 CST    0km/139km to go
Quick Step riders assemble Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)
And the flag really drops after a gentle 13km trundle down the coast - they're racing! After a sedate start, today should be a fairly animated stage, given that Graeme Brown (Rabobank), Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole) and Andre Greipel (Team High Road) are all on the same time on GC.

11:34 CST    4km/135km to go
Straight away a rider from Euskaltel - Euskadi has a dig off the front, followed very closely by several other riders, with an immediate reaction in the peloton. There's a group of three with 100 metres on the peloton, including Frantisek Rabon (Cze) from Team High Road, Andoni Lafuente (Spa) from EE, and Simon Clarke from UniSA. Rabobank moves to the front right away.

11:38 CST    6km/133km to go
Race director Mike Turtur Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)
And it's back together, but not for long, as Richie Porte from UniSA shoots away from the front. Our reporters on the course say that the course is solidly lined with spectators for kilometres on end.

11:43 CST    9km/130km to go
For a while there Porte - who escaped on Tuesday's opening stage - had four other riders for company, but they were swamped by the peloton. How long willl it remain quiet?

11:44 CST    11km/128km to go
Not long, as Philippe Gilbert (Bel) from FDJ had a go, and he was joined by a Caisse D'Epargne rider, but the peloton seems to be having none of it, and they're on the chase.

11:45 CST    13km/126km to go
Meanwhile, at the back of the field, Kurt Asle Arvesen (Nor) from Team CSC has rejoined the field as it all comes back together ... and then there's another attack.

11:48 CST    14km/125km to go
Well they're caught and the peloton is flying along at 60kmh with the whole field in single file; the only bike that could attack here would be a Ducati.

11:53 CST    17km/122km to go
With a slight drop in tempo, three riders have got away. Mickael Delage (Fra) from FDJ, Kjell Carlstrom (Fin) from Liquigas and Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) from UniSA - Tasmania, I mean Australia. Although slightly bandaged from his fall in the Australian Open just over a week ago, Wes is a classy young bike rider who could be able to make an impact.

11:57 CST    20km/119km to go
So the latest update has them at 15 seconds to the peloton and holding steady. At this point, though, they'll hit some rolling up-and-down country, before facing a short but sharp climb up to the Sellicks Hill KoM sprint at kilometre 43.7. From then there is about 20km of an uphill drag until a short descent, some 62km into the stage.

11:59 CST    22km/117km to go
The trio have fifteens seconds - or 250 metres off the front of the peloton - and holding steady. These undulating roads are the perfect launch pad to make a break before they hit the climb.

12:05 CST    27km/112km to go
And away they go! The gap is now 1.10 and look who's racing again? Yes, a Frenchman, and today he's joined by a Viking and the ubiquitous young Aussie. Does anyone see a pattern here? Well, at least we can pick up yesterday's discussion thread: why are the French riders so aggressive in this year's TDU?

12:08 CST    28km/111km to go
They're at 1.45 and reporting in from the back seat of a team car, CN's Paul Verkeuylen said, "The race was off to a very quick start, with many riders attacking after the neutral. Racing at up to 65km hour, nothing was able to stay away for very long." (Until now, that is.) "It was a very long neutral section, with a lot of enthuastic fans lining the streets of Adelaide. The riders turned right onto the freeway and then got onto a fast hotmix surface, and with three lanes to play with the pace was on!"

12:11 CST    30km/109km to go
And the gap goes up to 2.30 as the peloton eases off after GC calculations are processed and information relayed back to the field. Paul continued on above the din of being in a team car, "I was speaking to Alan Peiper (Team High Road DS) before the race start - he was enthuastic about the team, explaining that 'showing good teamwork was more important for the team than the win yesterday'. Also, many fans may wonder why the High Road crew are still walking around in Adidas clothing. 'Although they have pulled out as sponsor, they have a deal to supply the team with casual clothing for the next year,' Peiper said. They will not be using the team for advertising, though."

12:14 CST    31km/108km to go
More from our man in the peloton. "They were riding like juniors at the start (of the stage aftert the neutral). As one attack was brought back, another went off the front. Today is looking like it will be exciting as riders are keen to make a difference today after two days of sprints", he shouted (to be heard, of course). And the peloton have hit the brakes, literally. The gap is now 3.50 after 31km of racing.

12:19 CST    33km/106km to go
So our trio has kept its collective head down and is now some 5.05 ahead after only 33km of racing. Actually, I doubt there were any GC calculations done as virtually the whole field is at 10 seconds to Graeme Brown on GC, with a dozen or so stragglers at the bottom of the field.

12:22 CST    35km/104km to go
Our leaders are now on the climb up to Sellicks Hill and if they turn around, they will be able to look back and check out the calm blue water of the Spencer Gulf. Farms, vineyards and beaches abound.

12:24 CST    37km/102km to go
So Delage, Carlstrom and Sulzberger now have 5.45 to the main field; they're actually increasing their lead while they are on the climb up Sellicks Hill.

12:28 CST    40km/99km to go
Not all pre-race predictions come true. This morning Mark Renshaw from Credit Agricole told us, "We will mix it up today. A break probably won't go today, there's a chance it could break up with a small climb near the finish, but probably not. I think I can pinch back the leader's jersey today - it will be close between me, Brownie and Greipel - it will come down to the finishing order." Well, we know the first part of Mark's plan isn't working out, but there's still plenty of time for the peloton to knuckle down and pull this break back for another bunch kick.

12:34 CST    44km/95km to go
So leaders are leaving the coast and heading inland through the mountains. It was a "pretty decent climb", reports Paul V from the team car, and they have an uphill drag lasting about 20km before s hort-ish descent. With all this climbing, their lead is now back to just over 5 minutes, but the peloton is on the climb and so it will probably blow back out again. We'll get you the results of the first KoM sprint soon.

12:39 CST    45km/94km to go
The peloton has also turned away from the relatively narrow strip - about a kilometer wide - between the hills and the gulf. The view from the top of the climb takes in the dry rural landscape, with the Adelaide city skyline in the distance. And there are people. Lots of people. Locals have even taken to making cycling icons, in this case from anything they can find laying around on the farm, like pieces of corrugated iron. Very Australian. Time gap is 5.05.

12:44 CST    49km/90km to go
So the order over the KoM at Sellicks Hill was Mickael Delage (Fra) from FDJ, followed by Kjell Carlstrom (Fin) from Liquigas, then Wes Sulzberger from UniSA - Tasmania, I mean Australia. (There are three Tasmanians in this 'Australian' team, OK?) Then about five minutes or so later, Philippe Gilbert (Bel) from FDJ scooted ahead of the peloton to keep his KoM jersey safe/r, followed by Marcus Burghardt (Ger) of Team High Road. Gilbert has a four-point lead in the KoM competition, and he just added six points courtesy of that fourth place. One of our readers from Texas just asked about the time bonuses, and I'll fill y'all in real soon on those decisive bonuses. Our leaders are steady at 5.10.

12:47 CST   
Rabobank patrols the front of the peloton as they work to hold the leaders steady to about 5 minutes. So Ken from College Station in Texas was asking about time bonuses, so here goes:

12:51 CST   
Whoops - hit 'update' too quickly (wishful thinking). For stage finishes,
1st - 10 seconds and 8 points
2nd - 6 seconds and 6 points
3rd - 4 seconds and 4 points

Intermediate sprints:
Stages 1 to 6
1st - 3 seconds and 6 points
2nd - 2 seconds and 4 points
3rd - 1 seconds and 2 points

King of the Mountain competition:
1st - 16 points
2nd - 12 points
3rd - 8 points
4th - 6 points
5th - 4 points

12:55 CST    60km/79km to go
With just over 5km to the intermediate sprint, Delage, Carlstrom and Sulberger hold their lead and are working well together, as Rabobank trundles along on the front of the peloton.

12:59 CST   
My geographical reference has just been corrected by a local (and I asked a local, too, what that stretch of water was called). "I know it a good view from Sellicks Hill but I don't think you can see across Yorke Peninsular to see the waters of Spencer Gulf - however, you can see Gulf St Vincent", writes Chris Mulraney. So yes, it's the Gulf St Vincent then, and thanks Chris, I hope your boss sees this and asks you what else you're up to ...

13:00 CST    65km/74km to go
With just over a 1km or so to the sprint, our leaders have kept the peloton to 5.35, or is it that the peloton is keeping them to that time gap?

13:03 CST   
All the riders are now on the top of a range, with long flat plains and cattle grazing in dry paddocks. "Very dry terrain," reports CN's Greg Johnson from the side of the road. "The temperature has increased with cloud clearing, but it's not as warm as previous days."

13:09 CST    68km/71km to go
The results of the intermediate sprint are in, and our Frenchman has taken the spoils (again - they are being serious). So first was Delage from FDJ, then Carlstrom from Liquigas, then Wes Sulzberger from Tasmania. They're holding steady off the front as they roll past another alpaca farm. They're working very well together and are at 5.40, but the Frenchman seems to be taking this quite seriously, as there's usually some sharing of the minor spoils among riders in a break. He's got both the KoM and the sprint. This, of course, is my way of leading back to yesterday's discussion point ...

13:11 CST   
And Andrew Swan has his theory as to why the French riders have been so aggressive in this year's TDU. They have been in every break, and yesterday, it was only French riders in the break. Over to you, Andrew: "For a long time the French have complained about cycling "a deux vitesses", or "at two speeds", meaning that they (being a clean country, or so the argument goes) have always been at a disadvantage compared to the "dirty" (read: non-French) countries. Maybe with the UCI's introduction of the biological passport, the Frenchies feel new enthusiasm for what they perceive to be a newly levelled playing field, and it's that enthusiasm that encourages them to attack all the time."

13:13 CST   
Andrew also asked why Karl Menzies, one of the Tasmanians in UniSA, has not been in a break. Killer Karl had a big spill on the run into the finish of stage 1 and is really quite beaten up. But abandon? Never.

13:19 CST    74km/65km to go
Our leaders have stocked up going through the Goolwa Road feed zone after 72km of racing and are holding their time gap reasonably comfortably, as there has not been a massive reaction in the peloton. It will probably stay this way for another 30-45 minutes, but after that the chase should be on.

13:23 CST    73km/66km to go
John Andrews from Perth makes a reference to a theory proposed by Brad Davis, who wrote in yesterday to discuss the animated and aggressive French riders in this year's TDU. "I am a bit more positive than Brad and think it's (hopefully) they can rack up some UCI points early in the season - just like they do in the various categories of the Tour De France in the early stages. Mind you it could be just be they believe that racing miles are the best training miles." The gap to our leaders is steady at 5.40.

13:25 CST   
Greg Porter believes that Wes Sulzburger has "let the other two in the breakaway take the points and KOM. I think he is taking it easy given his current form. I predict that he will blow the other two riders away when the peloton starts to catch up and solo all the way home". And based on Greg's email address, he's not even from Tasmania.

13:35 CST    79km/60km to go
And the gap stays at 5.50 after a short but steep descent off the hills. Our leaders are not that far from the next intermediate sprint for the day and are continuing to work well. One reader (at work - OK - you're all anonymous then) also wrote in to point out how this stage was very decisive in the 2005 edition of the TDU, and it was where we all witnessed the then Liberty-Seguros rider Luis Leon Sanchez take the stage win and we all know what happened next, don't we? OK, he won.

13:40 CST    92km/47km to go
That was a fast descent because as the peloton trundled through the 84km point, it was 6.30 behind our leaders, who flew down the 14% descent at almost 80kmh. Our man on the side of the road, who's fought his way to the barricades through the throng of people in Goolwa, said it was a genuine sprint among our leaders going for the points. Is there a language problem preventing a gentlemen's agreement? But the finishing order was the same, with Delage first, then Carlstrom, and then Wes Sulzberger.

13:44 CST   
If you're thinking, 'Sulzberger, I've heard that name before ... ' that's because he took silver in the U23 World Road Championships just last year. Wes and his two companions are now in relatively flat, wide open roads, but luckily there's little wind to hold them back. They certainly have the engines to stay clear and theoretically - they now have time on their side. Our man on the side of the road says they still look good and are working well together. As the peloton rolled through the 90km mark it was 5.30 behind.

13:49 CST   
Here's a link to that race at the World's last year when Sulzberger bagged second in the U23 road race but back in the peloton the big teams have woken from the collective slumber and are starting to work. Have they left it too late to catch them? At 94km the peloton was 4.55 behind.

13:58 CST    99km/40km to go
As to our theories why the French riders have been so animated this year, Wes from Perth said, "Easy. I've seen photos and highlights from races all over the world and the TDU has THE hottest podium girls of all time. Now there's an incentive". At 99km, Delage, Carlstrom and Sulzberger had the peloton pegged at 4.50. This is going to be very close.

14:00 CST   
The conditions for this breakaway group just keep improving. CN's Greg J reports from the finish that, "The temperature has droped considerably. It's much cooler at the moment. There is light cloud cover but nothing to suggest we will have the same pouring conditions as last year's finish in Victor Harbour".

14:04 CST   
Can our trio make it? Geoff in Melbourne suggests, "If the break is together, I would suggest that Wes (Sulzberger) attacks when they turn onto the Ring Rd in Victor Harbour. The others in the break will be so amazed by how cool the adventure park is (well it was when I was 15) that they'll not be watching his wheel ... "

14:08 CST   
Race radio just reported that neutral service was being called up to the break ...

14:11 CST    109km/30km to go
High Road riders are on the front chasing hard, and several of the other sprinters' teams are lending a hand to the chase, too. The gap from our leaders to the peloton is 4.00. Can they do it?

14:17 CST    119km/20km to go
With 20km to go, the three are staying clear and the last time gap given was 4.00, while riders are being shelled from the back of the main field as the pace goes up.

14:20 CST   
The peloton has just gone through the 20-to-go point, being led by High Road and Caisse D'Epargne. Our man on the side of the road says the leaders are still working well together, and coming up is a short but sharp climb on the run into Victor Harbour, an excellent place to attack for one of our three? It's happened before. The latest time gap is 2.30. It's coming down rapidly.

14:24 CST   
CN's Greg J reports from Victor Harbour: "The finish line in Victor Harbour is alive with activity with thousands enjoying the temporary rock climbing wall, ferris wheel, and other rides. The riders will face a moderate cross wind as they head down the finishing straight which curves to the right." Latest time gap? Just over 2 minutes ...

14:28 CST   
The latest time gap to come through has our leaders at 1.35 - the gap is really coming down but a local, John from Normanville, wrote in in to say: "I think they're going to stay away. I know the roads very well, the terrain they're headed into doesn't favor a close chase. The rider that can get a gap at the top of the last little rise won't be caught."

14:30 CST    129km/10km to go
With 10km to go, our leaders have a gap of over a minute as the peloton puts the hammer down and splits in two. Riders are being shelled out the back - it's going to be very close. There are some very big motors in the main field.

14:32 CST    132km/7km to go
The main field is really travelling now and our man on the side of the road reckons the leaders will be caught - the time gap is now at 40 seconds.

14:35 CST   
There's a stiff breeeze blowing in off the ocean that will make a crosswind on the finishing straight; it's a tight and twisty finale, even if it is dead flat. It's what you would call a 'McEwen finish'.

14:37 CST    134km/5km to go
With 5km to go the gap has really come down now - the leaders only have a gap of 200 metres or so, but they're not giving up.

14:40 CST    136km/3km to go
They're caught! Once again, with 3km to go ...

14:40 CST    137km/2km to go
There are attacks going from the front of the peloton now but none are getting clear. The field will have to negotiate a few turns before they swing on to the finishing straight.

14:41 CST    138km/1km to go
They're inside 1km and altogether and the sprinters' teams get their acts together ...

14:43 CST    139km/0km to go
And coming down the final straight the UniSA boys have put Alby Davis into a great position, and he's holding his line and behind him it looks like Mark Renshaw and then Graeme Brown ... and Alby holds them off and take it by 3 bike lengths!

14:50 CST    139km/0km to go
Immediately after the finish, Allan Davis from UniSA - Australia said, "mate, it's a big relief (to get the stage win). I'd like to thank my team-mates from UniSA. The boys did a great job and I'd like to thank all of them." Davis said coming into the final straight he was "in a good position and about 350 metres out I gave it a good go, and I had a look between my legs and saw that nobody was there ... it's a really good win for me today, thanks mate". Our reporter on the line believes Davis was followed across the line by Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole) and Graeme Brown (Rabobank), but that's unofficial for now, although Davis is definitely the winner of the stage.

14:54 CST   
Ah, so it was close but no cigar once again for the brave breakaway lads. At least Wes Sulzberger can have a beer tonight with Alby and celebrate the stage win. Although UniSA is a 'composite' team in a ProTour event, one look at its roster shows a mixture of serious cycling talent with experience, talent, strength and finishing skill. After all, Davis did bag second at Milan - Sanremo last year.

(Click for larger image)

14:58 CST   
Thanks for the comments and sharing the spirit, so to speak, willing our leaders home - just for once wouldn't it be great to see them stay away? One reader thinks the use of race radios has made it far too hard for breaks to stay clear, as it puts all the advantage with the chasing peloton. Dan in Newport Beach wrote in to say, "Again it would be such a better race without the on-rider radios. Without that they slow about 2kmh because the motors don't know when to launch and to send a rider back to the team car, get the info and work that back into the field is impossible at 'FULL' speed." We're still waiting for confirmation of those minor placings, but if Renshaw did bag second, and Brown in third, then the ochre jersey will go back to Renshaw. Possibly.

15:10 CST   
Apologies for the delay providing confirmation of the minor placings in today's stage, as the judges need to double-check the finish, but it seems that the organge and blue jersey in third may have been that of Mat Hayman from Rabobank (Brown was in ochre), while our reporters are pretty sure it was Renshaw in second. No doubt about Alby, though. Also, Philippe Gilbert from FDJ put in a bold attack with just over a kilometre to go and was hugging the barricades, but with the speed of the chasing peloton he was caught just before the line.

15:14 CST   
Latest word is that there are countbacks underway to determine the general classification, but the final placings should be out soon. Just have to be sure ...

15:58 CST    139km/0km to go
OK - we have finally received the stage results and top 10 in the GC for today's stage, and it is Davis, followed by Mark Renshaw and Mathew Hayman of Rabobak, so there's an Australian trifecta for today's stage. With his second place, Mark Renshaw of Credit Agricole has once again secured the ochre leader's jersey with a slim lead of two seconds.

16:00 CST   
Thanks again for following the Cyclingnews'live coverage of the third stage of the Tour Down Under. We'll be back tomorrow for the fourth stage from Mannum to Strathalbyn, a rolling 134km course that should see another shake-up to the overall standings. Until then, thanks for joining us and we'll be back tomorrow.


After a 13km neutral trundle out of Unley, racing got seriously underway in the town of Sturt and right away the attacks started. Finally, after 17km one of these attacks did stay away - comprising Mickael Delage (Fra) from Francaise Des Jeux, Kjell Carlstrom (Fin) from Liquigas and Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) from UniSA - Australia.

This trio really worked well together and at one stage built up a lead of almost six minutes, but then, like on other days, the peloton came alive and started to chase. Today's capture happened with under 3km remaining and then there was a furious affair to bag the stage win. With several corners leading into the finishing straight, it was thought to be one of those circuits that would favour Robbie McEwen (Silence - Lotto), except that Philippe Gilbert from FDJ flew off the front with 1.5km remaining.

However, the sprinters' teams were too orqanised, especially that of UniSA - Australia, who would have saved their strength by not contributing to the chase of their team-mate, Sulzberger. Coming onto the final straight, the Belgian, Gilbert, had the line in sight but behind came him noted sprinter Allan 'Alby' Davis, who finished a clear three bike lengths in front of Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole), with Mathew Hayman (Rabobank) in third.

Immediately after the finish, Davis said, "mate, it's a big relief (to get the stage win). I'd like to thank my team-mates from UniSA. The boys did a great job and I'd like to thank all of them." Davis said coming into the final straight he was "in a good position and about 350 metres out I gave it a good go, and I had a look between my legs and saw that nobody was there ... it's a really good win for me today, thanks mate". Davis was followed across the line by Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole), which means he regained the ochre leader's jersey after losing it yesterday to Rabobank's Graeme Brown.

Provisional results of stage 3, Tour Down Under, January 24, 2008

1 Allan Davis (Aus) UniSA -  Australia                         3.13.48
2 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Credit Agricole                                st
3 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank
4 Davide Vigano (Ita) Quick Step
5 Andre Greipel (Ger) Team High Road
6 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Team CSC
7 Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Silence - Lotto
8 Aurelien Clerc (Swi) Bouygues Telecom
9 Martin Elmiger (Swi)Ag2R-La Mondiale
10 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Francaise Des Jeux

General Classification after Stage 3

1 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Credit Agricole                            10.14.00
2 Allan Davis (Aus) UniSA -  Australia                               .02
3 Andre Greipel (Ger) Team High Road                                 .06
4 Graeme Brown (Aus)                                                  st
5 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne                      .10
6 Mickael Buffaz (Fra) Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone                st 
7 Mickael Delage (Fra) Francaise Des Jeux                             st
8 Yoann Offredo (Fra) Francaise Des Jeux                            0.11
9 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank                                      0.12
10 Kjell Carlstrom (Fin) Liquigas                                     st      


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