Pello Bilbao wins in Australia
The Bahrain-Victorious rider beats Simon Yates and Jay Vine in the sprint at the finish of stage 3 of the Tour Down Under after a superb response to the latter's attack on the climb to Cork Screw that culminated an otherwise fairly quiet stage. The Australian from UAE becomes the leader of the race with two tough stages remaining over the weekend.
First Spanish victory of the year for Pello Bilbao
It is not usual to see a Spanish cyclist raise his arms in the Australian race, a race traditionally reserved for powerful men who focus their best performance on the first races of the year in order to be ready for the spring classics. However, for some time now, something has changed in cycling and there are no more preparation races.
All the races and this Tour Down Under, let's not forget that it is a World Tour category race, are disputed to the maximum. Proof of this is how active we are seeing both in yesterday's stage and today's stage, important men in the peloton as Simon Yates, Jay Vine, Jai Hindley or Rohan Dennis.
A Tour Down Under that began on Tuesday with a short prologue, which left us curious images and whose development was marked by rain on the technical route through the streets of Adelaide. EF Education-EasyPost's Italian Alberto Bettiol won the race.
Bettiol managed to hold on to the lead after a first stage that was ridden at full speed but on a not very selective route that ended in a sprint. The most remarkable thing was the tremendous pile-up that occurred in the final kilometers and that left as the most affected rider a Robert Gesink who suffered a fractured pelvis that will keep him in dry dock for at least a couple of months.
Bahrain-Victorious German Phil Bauhaus won in a tight sprint, while Bettiol managed to keep the lead of the race despite the small gap left by the previous day's time trial.
The second stage of this Tour Down Under brought us a nice show in its first part, where the wind did its thing and caused some cuts. The hostilities would be unleashed later, in the last of the scoring hills where Jai Hindley managed to break away to form a group with Simon Yates, Michael Matthews, Mauro Schmid and Rohan Dennis.
Meanwhile, the leader Alberto Bettiol left us the image of the day after suffering severe cramps that left him out of the race. The Italian's huge anger was paid for by the TV cameraman who was hit by the EF-Education-EasyPost rider with a bottle of water.
The hard fight between the escapees and the peloton was in favor of the former, who managed to reach the finishing straight with a few dozen seconds over the group, a moment that Rohan Dennis took advantage of to assert his top speed and even cut his companions, achieving the double prize of the stage and the leadership of the race.
Turn for the leaders
Today's day was uneventful, with the riders sharpening their knives ahead of the Cork Screw climb, located just 5 kilometers from the finish line. As expected, the pace of the peloton accelerated on its ramps, eliminating leader Rohan Dennis.
Already in the final part of the climb it was Jay Vine who decided to break the race, demonstrating the great form that led him to win a few days ago the Australian time trial championship. The Australian rode with an active Simon Yates on his wheel, while from behind, at a steady pace, it was Pello Bilbao who got rid of his companions and with a solid pedal stroke managed to catch the two leading riders just before the summit.
The trio managed to maintain the gap, especially thanks to the momentum of Jay Vine, who knew that the lead of the race was within his reach. This left the outcome of the stage in a duel between Pello and Simon. The rider from Gernika was the one who launched the sprint, from afar, relying on his speed, but did not count on the resistance of Simon Yates, who was about to prevent the victory of Pello Bilbao.
With the weekend's tough stages ahead, everything is still up in the air for the overall with Jay Vine leading the standings by just 15 seconds over Pello Bilbao and 16 seconds over Simon Yates, with Magnus Sheffield in fourth place, 45 seconds behind.