Griepel wins, no, Evans wins, no Valverde wins. No, wait… who?
Andre Greipel wins the third stage in the Tour Down Under. No wait… that didn’t happen.
In a surprising turn of events, Australia’s own world champion Cadel Evans and Alejandro “borrowed time” Valverde beat the sprinters and finished first and second. No, wait … that didn’t happen.
The hilly stage from Unley to Stirling wasn’t nothing if not unpredictable and crazy. The long shot, out-of-nowhere winner? Portuguese national champion Manuel Cardoso of the Footon-Servetto squad. Yeah, that happened to everyone’s shock and amusement.
It was like the horse at 400 to 1 odds winning the Kentucky Derby. Like the high school kid with the nifty science project winning the Nobel prize in Chemistry. Well kinda, sorta.
“I was extremely happy to have won the tough stage to Stirling,” said Cardoso after the finish. “Once the attack had been closed Caisse d’Epargne did a lot of work on the front in preparation for the finish but I was able to make a big move in the final kilometre.”
The race heated up 70 kilometers in when Simon Clarke (UniSA-Australia) and Karsten Kroon (BMC Racing) pulled off an escape move. They were later joined by Maciej Paterski (Liquigas-Doimo), Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) and Jack Bobridge (Garmin-Transitions). The move was dangerous but ultimately doomed as Valverde’s Caisse d’Epargne’s team ramped up the speed. That tactic brought Valverde and Evans to the front of the action.
“Coming into the last kilometre it was like riding a race in slow motion, everyone was so exhausted,” said Evans. “When I saw that it looked like they had the lead-outs going – Sky, Rabobank… when they started to accelerate they blew.
“I was just following the wheels through [the group] and it looked like Caisse d’Epargne had enough guys left to follow close to Cardoso but obviously not and I couldn’t come round him,” he added. Cadel barely knows his own teammate so Cardoso is a bit of a mystery for the man in the rainbow lycra.
That’s bike racing. Sometimes the big stars crush everyone in site, sometimes a relative unknown has his day. It wasn’t Andre Griepel, Alejandro Valverde or Cadel Evans that made the headlines.