Thomas retains Oz Tour lead
Adelaide - Tom-Jelte Slagter of the Netherlands claimed the first stage win of his professional career when he won the third stage of the Tour Down Under on Thursday, while Britain's Geraint Thomas retained the overall race lead.
His stage win carried a 10-second time bonus which allowed him to close the gap on Thomas to less than five seconds at the midpoint of the six-stage race.
Australia's Matthew Goss was second on the 139km stage between Unley and Stirling and world road racing champion Philippe Gilbert was third.
The stage included five laps of a circuit around the town of Stirling in the Adelaide Hills and an uphill finish which tested even the accomplished sprinters.
The first and longest attack of the race featured the Australian namesakes Simon Clarke and William Clarke, who led by 3 minutes and 25 seconds after 30km.
But with positions on general classification still defined by seconds, the peloton was not prepared to allow any break to get too far ahead.
Eight riders briefly got away but the presence of Andrey Amador of the Movistar team among the leading group ensured the bunch kept them within its sights. Amador was close enough on general classification to be a threat.
Later, Simon Clarke of Australia, Valerio Agnoli of Italy and Tiago Pinto Machado of Portugal took turns at the front before the peloton approached the finish.
David Tanner of Australia provided an outstanding leadout for Slagter and the Dutch rider capitalised to win comfortably.
"It's incredible. I can't believe it," Slagter said. "I saw on the screen behind me that I was the first one and I was looking on the screen behind me. I thought they were coming but I was the strongest.
"David Tanner was incredible. He told me he would drop me off in the final few hundred metres and he did it in a perfect way."
Thomas finished fourth on the stage to remain first overall ahead of Slagter, Javier Moreno of Spain and Ben Hermans of Belgium.
"It was pretty tough out there," Thomas said. "A lot of guys started attacking us three laps out and the boys had to ride really hard.
"They did an incredible job today setting a fast tempo all day and I can't thank them enough.
"I couldn't manage a podium finish. It would have been nice to get a few more seconds bonus. It was a tough day but that's mission accomplished I guess."Results from the 139km third stage of the UCI WorldTour Tour Down Under from Unley to Stirling on Thursday:
1. Tom Jelte Slagter (NED/BLA) 3hr 36min 46 sec
2. Matthew Goss (AUS/OGE) s.t.
3. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/BMC) s.t.
4. Geraint Thomas (GBR/SKY) s.t.
5. Giovanni Visconti (ITA/MOV) s.t.
6. Javier Moreno (ESP/MOV) s.t.
7. Simone Ponzi (ITA/AST) s.t.
8. Daniele Pietropolli (ITA/LAM) s.t.
9. Ivan Santaromita (ITA/BMC) s.t.
10. Gorka Izagirre (ESP/EUS) s.t.Selected
37. Andre Greipel (GER/LTB) at 33
40. Simon Gerrans (AUS/OGE) 42
124. Andy Schleck (LUX/RLT) 16min 47secGeneral Classification
1. Geraint Thomas (GBR/SKY) 9hr 56min 17sec
2. Tom Jelte Slagter (NED/BLA) at 5
3. Javier Moreno (ESP/MOV) 6
4. Ben Hermans (BEL/RLT) 8
5. Daniele Pietropolli (ITA/LAM) 15
6. Jon Izagirre (ESP/EUS) s.t.
7. Gorka Izagirre (ESP/EUS) s.t.
8. George Bennett (NZL/RLT) s.t.
9. Jack Bauer (NZL/GRS) s.t.
10. Wilco Kelderman (NED/BLA) s.t.Selected
33. Phillipe Gilbert (BEL/BMC) at 2min 53sec
37. Simon Gerrans (AUS/OGE) 3min 26sec
56. Andre Greipel (GER/LTB) 6min 48sec
124. Andy Schleck (LUX/RLT) 24min 36sec