The traditional sprint finish down into Victor Harbor marks Stage 3 of the 2017 Tour Down Under.
The 144 kilometres from Glenelg to Victor Harbor should bring another mass sprint finish, and another chance for Caleb Ewan to show his dominance over his fellow sprinters.
After the hellish nature of yesterday’s stage, the riders will be delighted by the fairly flat parcours, and the sea breeze. The only major obstacle on the day’s route in terms of climbing is the climb to Sellicks Hill, after 43.3 kilometres.
The category two climb of Sellicks Hill is around three per cent for three kilometres, and will offer the perfect opportunity for a break to get away from the field, if it hasn’t already eventuated earlier in the stage.
Through the King of the Mountains point and the riders will continue to climb all the way up until the first immediate sprint point at Myponga after 47 kilometres of racing.
It is then a distance of 27 kilometres until the final intermediate sprint at Inman Valley after 73 kilometres of racing. This sprint marks the halfway stage of today’s proceedings, as the riders set themselves up for the four final circuits around Victor Harbor.
There are two climbs on the 12 kilometre loop; one just inside ten kilometres to go, which averages three per cent for a kilometre, with the final one being 1.3 kilometres at around five per cent according to Strava segments. The final rise is just outside the final five kilometres, making it the per cent spot for the opportunists to launch an attack; Adam Hansen perhaps.
The final is a reasonably straightforward for the sprinters, with wide roads in the final three kilometres heading into a quick sequence of 90 degree right then left corners which then head down the slightly curved finishing straight. Positioning will be the key, as showed last year when Simon Gerrans took the win.
The key thing to note is that the final left hand bend is at around 600 metres to go, meaning that teams will still need potentially two guys ahead of their sprinter to perfectly launch him into the finish.
Looking at the footage from last year, Sky were well positioned on the front, but only had the one rider infront of Ben Swift around the final bend, and ultimately got overtaken by Orica’s Darryl Impey. Impey came around with speed, with Simon Gerrans able to sit in behind his teammate, while Swift had to accelerate to get into Gerrans’s wheel.
A loss of momentum, and having to use his matches to early in the sprint lead to Swift being well beaten in the end.
After an extremely difficult first two stages, this could be a reduced bunch finish, depending on how fast the peloton attacks the course, and if there is any wind, being so close to the ocean.
Caleb Ewan surprisingly climbed well yesterday, and with the climbs in the final loop around Victor Harbor, he should do fairly well on this course. Ewan is in great form, easily taking out the People’s Choice Classic and Stage 1 earlier in the week, and will be looking forward to getting another win under his belt on today’s stage.
Orica-Scott will once again want to show off their dominance with their new lead-out train having a two from two success rate so far this week.
The only real challengers to the mantle of Caleb Ewan will come from Bora-Hansgrohe pair, World Champion Peter Sagan, and Irishmen Sam Bennett. Bennett has finished twice behind Ewan in both the Peoples Choice Classic, and on Stage 1 and with the guidance of Sagan in the leadout, could give him an opportunity to take stage honors.
Other riders to look out for include Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), Danny Van Poppel (Sky), Niccolo Bonafazio (Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling), Mark Renshaw (Dimension-Data), Sean De Bie (Lotto-Soudal), Baptiste Planckaert (Katusha-Alpecin), Patrick Bevin (Cannondale Drapac), Nikias Arndt (Team Sunweb), Ben Swift and Marko Kump (UAE Abu Dhabi) and Tom van Asbroeck (Cannondale Drapac).