Adelaide - Andre Greipel of Germany regained the lead of the Tour Down Under with yet another powerful sprint display which gave him his 10th stage win of the race Thursday.
Lotto rider Greipel, a former two-time winner of the season's first WorldTour event, gave up the ochre jersey to Swiss time trial champion Martin Kohler, of BMC, on Wednesday's uphill finish at Stirling.
However the German moved back into the lead after outclassing Belarusian Yauheni Hutarovitch (FDJ) and Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) with a powerful drive to the line at the end of a 134.5 km stage from Unley.
Already victorious in the pre-race criterium on Sunday, Greipel won the opening stage on Tuesday, when he also lost valuable teammate Jurgen Roelandts to neck injuries in a 15-rider pile-up.
In Roelandts' absence, Greipel relied on his other teammates - and duly finished off the job in style. But, he was quick to try and lift stricken Roelandts' spirits.
"This victory is for Jurgen Roelandts, who's giving us his support from the hospital," said Greipel, who won his first Tour de France stage in 2011 and finished third at last year's world championships.
"Although we have three injured riders, we still have a great team.
"The most important point of today's race was the one kilometre to go mark, I asked my guys to put me there in fifth or sixth position, and they did."
Thanks to the 10 bonus seconds he picked up for his win, Greipel now has an eight-second lead over Kohler, with Rabobank sprinter Michael Mathews in third at 12.
GreenEdge all-rounder Simon Gerrans, the new Australian champion, is fifth at 16sec, with Boasson Hagen, who also has overall victory ambitions, on the same time.
The race continues Friday with a 130 km ride from Norwood to Tanunda.
However the potential race decider will likely be on Saturday when the fifth stage finishes on Old Willunga hill, a day which should fully test the climbing abilities of the sprinters who want to win the race.
Greipel, for example, has all but given up hope of a third overall triumph, adding: "I'm happy to be in the lead again, but the time bonus doesn't matter really because the Willunga stage is too hard for me."
Results from the third stage of the Tour Down Under WorldTour event, a 134.5 km ride from Unley to Victor Harbor on Thursday:
Andre Greipel (GER/LTB) 3hr 21min 55sec, 2. Yauheni Hutarovitch
(BLR/FDJ) same time, 3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR/SKY) s.t., 4. Mark
Renshaw (AUS/RAB) s.t., 5. Robbie McEwen (AUS/GEC) s.t., 6. Jacopo
Guarnieri (ITA/AST) s.t., 7. Heinrich Haussler (GER/GRM) s.t., 8.
Daniele Bennati (RNT) s.t., 9. Manuel Belletti (FRA/ALM) s.t., 10. Chris
Sutton (AUS/SKY) s.t.
Selected: 12. Michael Matthews (AUS/RAB)
s.t., 13. Romain Feillu (FRA/VCD) s.t., 19. William Bonnet (FRA/FDJ)
s.t., 20. Simon Gerrans (AUS/GEC)
Andre Greipel (GER/LTB) 11hr 54min 52sec, 2. Martin Kohler (SUI/BMC) at
08sec, 3. Michael Matthews (AUS/RAB) 12, 4. Thomas De Gendt (BEL/VCD)
14, 5. Simon Gerrans (AUS/GEC) 16, 6. Jan Bakelants (BEL/RNT) s.t., 7.
Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR/SKY) s.t., 8. Eduard Voganov (RUS/KAT) s.t.,
9. Rohan Dennis (AUS/UNI) 17, 10. Xavier Florencio (ESP/KAT) 20
14. William Bonnet (FRA/FDJ) s.t., 18. Blel Khadri (FRA/ALM) s.t., 29.
Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) s.t., 36. Romain Sicard (FRA/EUS) s.t., 40.
Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP/RAB) s.t.