With the field broken into four groups and separated at the start by two minutes, it was a bit of a toss-up to see who would be first across the line on Stage 3. With the A group comprised of the lower quarter of the GC and the top 12(ish) riders sitting in the D pen, there was every chance the A group, first off, would stay clear. Of course, there was also every chance that they wouldn’t.
The chase race format offered up an intriguing tactical dilemma for riders. Work together with your pen, who also happened to be your closest rivals on GC, or play the cards of teammates in the hopes that they could stay clear and sweep up points on the line.
With the finish order determining points and actual finish times setting the GC changes, there was probably more to think about than amateur cyclists should be prepared to focus on.
How the Race Unfolded
The As took off and it was quickly apparent that they would be content to let the riders from Team Red do much of the work. Work they did, with Alissa O’Hagan, Wesley Stocker, and Tom Young. That left Team Green’s Ben Price and Doug Millson to wait for their late move, which Price delivered and held for a long, long time.
The Bs did catch, but only just before they themselves were caught by the Cs, who in turn was caught by most of the Ds, in a scene that might be best imagined like a series of fish eating a smaller fish, only to be eaten by yet another larger fish. Basically, the exact same thing.
On The Finish Line
The Ds stormed through the field and the teamwork of riders like Jeb Stone for Team Green helped pull their leaders, Jesse Keaton and Al McWilliams, through the bunch. It’s fair to say the momentum in the finale was irresistible, with blistering attacks from Keegan Korienek and Drew Cummins neutralized by the sheer force of roughly 80% of the field all together into the final 3km.
Dan Yankus was the first to do, raising a long bunch sprint. The move to go first was a smart one and he comfortably held on, though Team Green galloped across with McWilliams second and a dynamite sprint from Keegan Korienek third. Team Blue showed their sprinting depth, to be sure, with Ostberg sweeping up the sprint points and putting Korienek and DeFour in the top five on the line.
Behind, stragglers from the D group saw their GC hopes fade, though Ryan Kennedy and Eric Langley did an impressive job of limiting the damage, both staying comfortably in the top ten overall on GC.
While there were no substantial time differences in the top 15 on GC, some riders did lose time, though with what’s lurking around the corner, they have a chance to make up much more than they gave away.
What’s Next in the Winter is Coming Tour
Stage Four is the infamous Team Time Trial with each team looking for time and important points in the tour-long Team Competition. The map is a tough one, too, taking in all 24km of London Figure 8, including the full ascent of Box Hill.