ADELAIDE, Australia (AFP) – Rohan Dennis upstaged BMC teammate and race favourite Cadel Evans to take the third stage of the Tour Down Under and claim the ochre leader’s jersey on Thursday.
Dennis took the overall lead from fellow South Australian Jack Bobridge, who faded to finish 42 seconds back on the 143.2-kilometre stage from Norwood to the tiny town of Paracombe.
Former Tour De France winner Evans is riding his last race before retiring, with his BMC team determined that he leaves the sport a winner.
Thursday’s result means BMC will now have to make some major strategic decisions on how to approach the last three stages of the season-opening UCI World Tour race.
On the first really hot day of this year’s Tour, Dennis finished in 3hr 35min 8sec, three seconds ahead of Evans and Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin).
Another race favourite, Tasmanian Richie Porte (Sky), finished five seconds behind Dennis alongside a group of riders including Frenchman Maxime Bouet (Etixx-Quick Step) and Italy’s Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale).
In another fascinating day’s racing, Australia’s Will Clarke from the local Drapac team broke away early and rode solo until he was joined by Calvin Watson (Trek Factory Racing), Lasse Norman Hansen (Cannondale-Garmin) and Axel Domont (AG2R La Mondiale).