The brutal climb to Paracombe took its toll on many of the riders.
Stage 3 provided the first real test for the ochre jersey contenders, who faced an undulating route from Unley to Paracombe, where the 1.1km-long climb averaging 9.3% promised a major shake-up of the general classification after two days that had the sprinters in the spotlight. For that reason, the three men who attacked and established a 2:40 maximum buffer over the peloton didn’t have a chance, being pegged back inside the last ten kilometers.
A huge injection of pace, combined with several crashes on a descent, reduced the bunch to 50-odd riders, who got strung out as soon as they hit the early ramps of the Torrens Hill. Around 700 meters from the top, the decisive move came from Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), who claimed the stage victory and took over the leader’s jersey thanks to the bonus seconds.
Two groups rolled over the line just a couple of seconds later, and it was in the second of these that Deceuninck – Quick-Step had two representatives: Dries Devenyns, a two-time top 10 finisher at the Tour Down Under (2018 and 2019), and former Girobio winner Mattia Cattaneo. Both put in strong efforts on the gruelling ascent where the headwind added to the difficulty and made significant jumps in the standings followings this hard stage, finding themselves now in 11th and 14th place, respectively.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images