Elia Viviani spends most of the day in the break, while Dries Devenyns moves up in the GC.
A challenging and leg-sapping stage from Lobethal to Uraidla, with over 3 300 meters of climbing and crucial time bonuses on the line, was in store on Wednesday, when points classification leader Elia Viviani made the seven-man breakaway that took off from the peloton in the opening kilometers.
The 29-year-old Italian picked up maximum seconds and points at the two intermediate sprints of the day and helped the group carve out a 3:30 advantage, before dropping back to the bunch with around 55 kilometers left, just ahead of the tough circuit around Uraidla, covered three times by the riders at a blistering pace which led to an early selection.
The 29-year-old Italian picked up maximum seconds and points at the two intermediate sprints of the day and helped the group carve out a 3:30 advantage, before dropping back to the bunch with around 55 kilometers left, just ahead of the tough circuit around Uraidla, that the riders covered three times at a blistering pace.
It was there that the last three survivors of the breakaway could feel the peloton breathing down their necks as cracks began forming at the back of the pack under the pressure of several teams who upped the tempo on the short but tough Picadilly climb. As the peloton closed in on the escapees, some riders jumped across to the break, but not even this move could inject new life into the group up front, who succumbed with 15 kilometers remaining.
On the last hill, Michael Woods (EF Education First) accelerated and opened a gap, which was expertly shut down by Dries Devenyns, who then immediately tried to take the rest of the riders by surprise with an all-in attack just before the tricky finish in Uraidla. Fifth overall at the previous edition of the Tour Down Under, the 35-year-old was caught by the reduced group, from where Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) emerged in the closing 100 meters to notch up the victory.
The effort put in by the experienced Belgian resulted in him making an important jump in the general classification, where Dries now finds himself just a couple of seconds off the podium with three stages to go. In the blue jersey standings the fight is still on, as Elia Viviani is only two points behind the new leader, with the next opportunity for sprinters set to come on Friday, when the peloton will travel to Strathalbyn.
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