Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Matthew Brammeier's decisive move to bridge to attacking riders at the 10 km mark of Santos Tour Down Under: Stage 3 allowed him to work with a dangerous breakaway that kept the peloton on its toes.
"We decided we wanted to have somebody in a break today, but we planned for the group to be a little bit bigger," Brammeier said. "I originally thought there were 4-5 riders away but by the time I made my move and realised there was only 4 of us it was too late."
While Brammeier and the other three riders were eventually caught — and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) won yet another field sprint and took over the Santos Tour Down Under ochre leader's jersey — Brammeier and his break mates battled for 82 km out of 134.5 km. Brammeier, Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil), Jan Bakelants (Radioshack-Nissan), and Eduard Vorganov (Katusha Team) held as much as a five minute and 25 second gap at the 30 km mark (104.5 km remaining).
However, the peloton didn't led the gap get beyond that point. After William Clarke (Champion System) soloed to victory, gaining an 11 minute-plus gap at one point on Stage 2, the peloton likely learned its lesson in giving breakaways too much time.
"All of the guys in the group with me were good for the GC," Brammeier said. "So I knew it wasn't going to be easy to stay in front. Also the peleton was pretty nervous in some strong crosswinds, and of course with the miscalculation they made yesterday when they didn't catch the breakaway, they were always going to be a little hesitant to give us too much room."
Brammeier managed to earn 6 points at the SKODA King of the Mountain, a Category 2 climb at Sellicks Hill, while the break held onto a 4 minute and 45 second gap.
Unfortunately, the chasing peloton cut down the gap in a hurry, reeling the four men to within one minute, 50 seconds at the 66 km mark. The peloton reduced the gap dramatically within a mere 4 km.
The breakaway continued to battle, extending the gap to two minutes and 30 seconds at the 72 km mark (62.5 km remaining). Unfortunately, 92 km into the race, the peloton finally caught the aggressive breakaway.
Brammeier kept working. He managed to get 200 m ahead of his three break mates before they were caught. Despite his efforts, Brammeier was also absorbed by the field.
"I took it as easy as possible in the front group and waited until after the second bonus sprint before I attacked the breakaway," Brammeier said. "I thought maybe the peleton would let me go a little as I lost a bit of time yesterday and I am not a GC rider here. Eventually the wind was too strong and the peleton was riding too fast so I eased up and changed my focus to recovering a little and helping the sprinters in the finish.
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team was relatively quiet in the race after that.
"I'm really enjoying the race so far and am pretty happy with my condition," Brammeier said. "However I would be even happier if we could come back to Belgium with a win! Tomorrow is almost 100% a bunch sprint again so we will try again for Gerald!"
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