The break reigned on Stage 3 of the Santos Festival of Cycling, with Angus Lyons (ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) capitalizing on an early move to steal a step over outgoing Willunga Hill king Richie Porte (Team Garmin Australia).
Lyon’s pace couldn’t be matched by any of their rivals on the final climb, with the rider who came seventh on the stage last year dropping break mate Callum Scotson (BikeExchange-Jayco) and stretching a gap of 22 seconds by the time they had reached the line. Cooper Sayers came back ten seconds behind, narrowly beating Brendon Green (Cycling Development Foundation) in third place.
“We got closer last year, with a similar situation, but not as much gap at the bottom, so it was good to finish it,” said Lyons, who took the victory after teammate Declan Trezise had relentlessly drives the break at the base of the climb. “Declan did a crazy lap to get us away. He didn’t have much help there for the last six or eight miles and he did an amazing job of getting me there with three minutes up my sleeve. .”
As the rest of the break came down the line, behind the GC battle unfolded as did the final moments of Porte’s view of Willunga. His teammate Luke Plapp (Team Garmin Australia) came eighth, then Chris Harper (Villawood) and Porte a few seconds behind, as well as Matt Dinham (Team BridgeLane) at one minute and 28 seconds. Then it was overall leader James Whelan (Team BridgeLane) at 1:31, who safely retained his overall position.
“I feel amazing,” Whelan said. “The team did an amazing job today. All I had to do was get to the bottom of that climb and follow some wheels and we won the thing.”
The Willunga stage is always the one that looms large, both for the GC, the stage honors and the spectacle for the fans. The final 113.2km day, started in McLaren Vale, traversed vineyards and over the coast and views of Aldinga Beach before heading into the race making the ascent of Willunga Hill, where the Final battle for GC and stage honors was fought on crowd lined roads.
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