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5th Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under - 2.3

Australia, January 21-26, 2003

Home    Stage profile    Start list    Results

Stage 3: Thursday Jan 23, Glenelg - Hahndorf , 164km

Complete live report

Start time: 11:00 ACDT (actual start 11:50)
Finish time: 15:50 ACDT

11:00 ACDT - 0 km
Welcome to our coverage of stage 3 of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, which takes the riders from Glenelg, right through the centre of Adelaide, and then out to the Adelaide Hills, eventually finishing in Hahdorf. The first 22 km through the city are actually neutralised, so the clock will not start until they reach Gepps Cross at around 11:44am.

The first obstacle today is the climb of One Tree Hill, followed shortly after by the KOM at Checker Hill (km 42). This is a steep 1.6 km climb, but comes quite early in the race and is not expected to dramatically affect the stage outcome. There are also two intermediate sprints today: At Mount Torrens (km 63) and Balhannah (km 82). The riders reach Hahndorf after 90 km, but then do another two 37 km laps via Littlehampton, Nairne, Woodside, Verdun, before coming back to Hahndorf. The stage measures 164 km (or 186 km if you count the neutral section).

A clarification: In yesterday's live report, we wrote that "McEwen said afterwards that he felt he was the strongest of the breakaway group, but everyone in it knew that." The "he" in this case was Fabio Sacchi i.e. McEwen felt Sacchi was the strongest in the group.

11:10 ACDT - 0 km
The riders have rolled out of Glenelg, where they were watched by thousands of fans who were packed five deep at the start. They are currently cruising up Colley Tce, before turning into Anzac Hwy.

The weather conditions today are similar to yesterday: Around 26 degrees at the moment but with less wind. It's predicted to get up to 34 degrees in the middle of the day.

11:50 ACDT - 0 km

Photo: © CN
Click for larger image

There is no hurry as the race cavalcade exits Adelaide and heads towards the hills. The riders were clearly in a relaxed mood as they rode past the commentary position. The flag was dropped at 11:50am, and straightaway two riders have attacked: Jacky Durand (FDJeux.com) and Steve Cunningham (UniSA).

12:06 ACDT - 15 km
The Durand/Cunningham attack has been caught, and several counter attacks resulted. Steve Cunningham (UniSA) was involved in another one, followed by Brett Aitken (UniSA) and Joaquin Rodriguez (ONCE Eroski), so it's clear what UniSA's plans are. So far, nothing has stuck.

We spoke with UniSA's Russell Van Hout before the start, the rider who broke away for around 80 km yesterday. "We've got quite a few options, but I possibly won't try and defend the sprinters jersey. I'll concentrate on the KOM at Checkers, and defend my lead in the classification," he said.

12:17 ACDT - 21 km
The attacks continue. After 18 km, a group containing Michael Rogers (Quickstep-Davitamon), Jens Voigt (Credit Agricole), Pierrick Fedrigo (Credit Agricole), Igor Astarloa (Saeco-Longoni Sport), Nick Gates (Lotto Domo), Daniele Nardello (Telekom), Lennie Kristensen (CSC), Gianpaolo Caruso (ONCE Eroski), Angel Vicioso (ONCE Eroski), and Gene Bates (UniSA) went off the front of the peloton. They were quickly joined by race leader Fabio Sacchi (Saeco-Longoni Sport) and Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole).

The latter is setting a fierce pace up One Tree Hill, trying to put time into the peloton. This is despite his comment this morning: "The plan is to sit and wait, and let Saeco do most of the work today. There wasn't the shakeup on GC that some people were predicting, so today could be hard."

12:21 ACDT - 23 km
The peloton has closed the gap to the break, as everyone realises how dangerous it is. However, a lot of riders are really hurting at the back as they go up this climb. It's not much more than 5 percent, but there are a few steeper pinches which will make life tough.

12:30 ACDT - 28 km
The attacks continue as the race heads up One Tree Hill. Inigo Chaurreau (Ag2R) was alone in front for a short time, before Glenn d'Hollander (Lotto Domo), Igor Astarloa (Saeco-Longoni Sport), Kai Hundertmarck (Telekom) and Allan Davis (ONCE Eroski) bridged up to him. However, O'Grady's work on the front of the peloton has put an end to the break.

12:35 ACDT - 32 km
The peloton is back together once again, but has really been flying in the first part of this stage. The KOM at Checker Hill comes at 42.6 km, and many riders will be eyeing this.

Robbie McEwen, who finished second yesterday, spoke to us about his chances at the overall. "There's around 30 guys, all within 30 seconds of each other. So today could be as aggressive as yesterday." He's right so far.

12:44 ACDT - 38 km
No-one has managed to get away between One Tree Hill and Checker Hill, but the climb up Checker is just about to begin.

12:49 ACDT - 42 km
The bunch hammers up the climb of Checker Hill, which is around 1.6 km long and reaches 12-13% in some places. First over the top is Cadel Evans (Telekom), followed by Paolo Lanfranchi (Panaria Fiordo), Lennie Kristensen (CSC), Brad McGee (FDJeux.com) and Gianpaolo Caruso (ONCE Eroski) . There are small gaps everywhere in the peloton, but the whole bunch passes over the top inside a minute. Jaan Kirsipuu is last wheel.

Pat Jonker punctured 2 km before the climb, but managed to get back on.

Corey Sweet (Credit Agricole) has retired from the race.

13:03 ACDT - 51 km
Going over the top of the climb, a group of eight riders (including the five place getters in the KOM) went clear. However, Saeco amassed themselves at the front of the bunch to protect Fabio Sacchi's yellow leader's jersey. The Italians set a high tempo and reeled in all the breakaways.

We spoke with Cadel Evans (Telekom) before the start today about his overall chances. Cadel's not in top form at the moment, but he can still climb, as he showed on Checker Hill. Evans is currently in 18th position, 29 seconds behind Sacchi.

"29 seconds [on the General Classification] might not seem like much, but it's a lot in the TDU. I'm not feeling real good about my chances."

13:12 ACDT - 57 km
Another group has attacked, again containing eight riders: Davide Bramati (Quickstep-Davitamon), Steve Cunningham (UniSA), Andrea Tafi (CSC), Xavier Florencio and Gianpaolo Caruso (ONCE Eroski), Erki Putsep (Ag2R), Stefan Schumacher (Telekom) and one more rider to be confirmed. They have a gap of about 500m at the moment.

Jay Sweet (UniSA) has abandoned, joining his brother Corey in the sag wagon.

13:23 ACDT - 63 km
The sprint after 63 km at Mt Torrens is taken by Andrea Tafi (CSC), followed by Xavier Florencio and Gianpaolo Caruso (ONCE Eroski). The eight leading riders have 1'26 on the peloton, meaning that Xavier Florencio is the virtual leader of the race, as is only 29 seconds down on Sacchi on GC.

The popular Italian, Andrea Tafi crashed yesterday when his seatpost snapped. He told us this morning that "I didn't sleep well last night. But this is the life of a bike rider."

13:33 ACDT - 70 km
After 70 kilometres, the leading eight riders have established a 2'33 gap to the peloton, which is being led by the red jerseys of the Saeco-Longoni Sport team. They seem content to let this gap grow a little, but they will need to be careful. No-one is helping Saeco chase.

The eight riders are: Xavier Florencio (GC leader on the road) and Gianpaolo Caruso (ONCE Eroski), Davide Bramati (Quickstep-Davitamon), Steve Cunningham (UniSA), Andrea Tafi (CSC), Stefan Schumacher (Telekom), Erki Putsep and Nicolas Portal (Ag2r).

13:45 ACDT - 82 km
Andrea Tafi is on fire! He wins the second sprint at Balhannah after 82 km, giving him 12 points for the day, and the clear lead in the sprints competition, as he started on 10 points. The gap between the peloton and the leaders is now up to 3'15.

14:03 ACDT - 91 km
The break passes through Hahndorf for the first time, cheered on by a huge crowd. The gap is 2'50, so Saeco has managed to stabilise things on the front of the peloton.

Brett Aitken (UniSA) has also retired.

14:11 ACDT - 95 km/69 km to go
After 95 kilometres, the gap between the eight man break and the peloton is 2'44. Saeco has picked up the tempo a little, and will try to haul back these leaders. Otherwise, Xavier Florencio (ONCE) will find himself in the leader's jersey tonight.

The peloton is basically keeping together, with all the favourites letting Saeco do the work.

14:25 ACDT - 108 km/56 km to go
The riders are now heading north again, between Nairne and Inverbrackie. The leading riders, who have been away since kilometer 57, are Davide Bramati (Quickstep-Davitamon), Steve Cunningham (UniSA), Andrea Tafi (CSC), Xavier Florencio and Gianpaolo Caruso (ONCE Eroski), Erki Putsep and Nicolas Portal (Ag2R), Stefan Schumacher (Telekom).

The time gap has come down to 1'55, as Saeco hammers along . The peloton is strung out in single file behind them.

A word on the weather. A number of readers have written in asking about the weather conditions, both present and future. While today it's 'only' 30 degrees Celsius, tomorrow and Saturday are predicted to be 41 degrees, which is going to make life pretty hard for all concerned, especially the Europeans. Damion Hadcroft suggested that the stage be run early in the morning, however this can often create logistical problems (such as eating breakfast between 3 and 4am). But the riders are well aware that they will need to drink a lot, and regularly over the next few days.

14:36 ACDT - 114 km/50 km to go
The riders have now covered 114 km, as they head through Woodside again. The gap has been reduced to 1'30 by a concerted Saeco chase. It should come back together well before the finish, setting things up for a bunch sprint, or perhaps a late breakaway.

14:42 ACDT - 118 km/46 km to go
Three riders are in trouble in the break and have been dropped: Nicolas Portal (Ag2R), Andrea Tafi (CSC) and virtual leader Xavier Florencio (ONCE Eroski). That leaves Bramati, Cunningham, Caruso, Putsep and Schumacher in front, but they won't last long. The gap is down to 1'08 back to the chasing peloton.

An update on Russell Van Hout (UniSA), who was reported to have abandoned earlier. It seems that is not the case, as he was given a bottle at the feed zone! Confirmed abandonments are Corey Sweet (Credit Agricole), Jay Sweet (UniSA) and Brett Aitken (UniSA).

14:55 ACDT - 127 km/37 km to go
The leaders pass through Hahndorf for the last time, with just one more 37 km lap of this largely flat circuit to go. It looks as though it all will come back together. The gap is just under a minute.

Michael Cross asks whether there are any time bonuses for winning a stage. The answer is yes (6, 4 and 2 seconds), and there are also bonuses for placing in intermediate sprints (3, 2 and 1).

15:10 ACDT - 137 km/27 km to go
We're still awaiting a confirmation about what the latest time gap is. The last update was that five riders, Bramati, Cunningham, Caruso, Putsep and Schumacher had less than one minute's lead on the Saeco-driven peloton, which is working hard to protect the lead of Fabio Sacchi. But now other teams, such as Lotto-Domo, FDJeux.com and Panaria, are getting interested because they can sense a bunch sprint.

15:21 ACDT - 149 km/15 km to go
The break has been swallowed up by the still large peloton with 15 km to go. Davide Bramati was the last rider to be caught, having tried a solo move for 10 km. Reports from the finish line say that they're running about 20 minutes ahead of schedule, so the finish is expected very soon.

15:28 ACDT - 156 km/8 km to go
Russell Van Hout (UniSA) has attacked, and has a 400m lead on the Lotto-Domo controlled peloton. However, they're travelling at 45-50 km/h, so he's going to have a hard time staying out in front.

15:33 ACDT - 159 km/5 km to go
Van Hout has 5 km to go and he has a 23 second lead. Can he hold on??

15:39 ACDT - 164 km/0 km to go
Van Hout got caught with a couple of km to go, as Robbie McEwen's Lotto-Domo team wound it up for the sprint. They did their job, as McEwen won the stage from his arch rival Graeme Brown (Panaria).

The sprint was very close, and the judges are still deciding who got third. It looks like Stuart O'Grady - this has now been confirmed.

Stage winner Robbie McEwen said "I thought I had won it, but you can't start celebrating for sure. You can see what he [Graeme Brown] can do when he runs a straight line. If he keeps doing that he'll be a good sprinter."


1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo
2 Graeme Brown (Aus) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo
3 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole

General classification after stage 3

1 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Saeco-Longonio Sport
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo

Sprints classification

1 Andrea Tafi (Ita) CSC                  22 pts

KOM classification

1 Lennie Kristensen (Den) CSC            20 pts

U23 classification

1 Gene Bates (Aus) UniSA


Results    Mail the commentary team