2024 Santos Tour Down Under Stage 3 Race Report

How the race finished

Sarah Gigante (AG Insurance-Soudal Team) stormed away solo on Willunga Hill to take the overall victory in the 2024 Tour Down Under. The young riders upstaged their more senior counterparts, with Nienke Vinke (Team dsm firmenich Post NL) claiming second on the stage, and Neve Bradbury (Canyon//SRAM Racing) coming in third.

Full results are available below.

How it happened

The final and Queen Stage of the Tour Down Under 2024 opened up from the gun, with an immediate attack coming from Queen of the Mountains jersey wearer Katia Ragusa (Human Powered Health), Sophie Edwards (ARA | Skip Capital) and Amanda Poulsen (Bridgelane). The trio were joined by Stine Dale (Coop Repsol) and Karin Soderqvist (Lifeplus Wahoo). With Edwards, Ragusa and Soderqvist all within 1 minute of the lead on the general classification the group weren’t allowed a big gap, and were reabsorbed by the peloton.

Ragusa, however, had her eyes on the points atop the first climb at Windy Point, which came at just 3.8km into the stage. Following a lead out by Lily Williams, Ragusa pushed on to take the points, making her lead in the jersey unassailable. Edwards pushed over the top with her, and the duo reestablished a small gap. Gina Ricardo (Bridgelane) attacked from the peloton, joining the pair at the front, and shortly after they were once again joined by Stine Dale. 

FDJ-Suez took to the front of the peloton on the descent, sweeping up the breakaway in the process. Stine Dale tried to go again, this time taking Haylee Fuller (Bridgeland) and Lucie Fityus (ARA | Skip Capital) with her, and then she and Fityus tried once more. But with their eyes on the next intermediate sprint, where bonus seconds were available, the peloton brought the riders back each time. Liv Alula Jayco dominated through the sprint, with Roseman Gannon claiming maximum points from teammate Manly, ahead of Dominika Wlodarczyk (UAE Team ADQ) in third.

With around 40 kilometres to go the terrain opened up, and on the wide roads the wind suddenly became a factor in the race. With Lidl-Trek, Liv Alula Jayco and UAE Team ADQ riding strongly on the front, the peloton slowly stretched out, forming echelons. Defending champion Grace Brown (FDJ Suez) and stage hopeful Sarah Gigante (AG Insurance-Soudal Team) found themselves on the wrong side of the split. Gigante’s teammates dropped back to protect her, holding the gap at a reasonable distance. Eventually, Gigante, Brown and Gigante’s teammate and Stage 1 winner Ally Wollaston worked together to bridge the gap, putting in a huge effort to regain contact with the front of bunch, and just managing to avert the disaster.

Onto the rolling coast road, Liv Alula Jayco once again lined things up with their eyes on the second intermediate sprint of the day. Despite their work, this time Wlodarczyk was too strong for the Australians, taking maximum bonus second to put herself into the virtual lead. With twenty kilometres to go, the second bunch of riders who had been dropped in the echelons regrouped with the front of the peloton, and the teams began to regroup as their minds turned to the final battle up Willunga Hill. 

With twenty kilometres to go, the second bunch of riders who had been dropped in the echelons regrouped with the front of the peloton, and the teams began to regroup as their minds turned to the final battle up Willunga Hill. Lidl-Trek led out into the base of the climb, setting up previous winner Amanda Spratt to see if she could reclaim victory. As the riders stretched out, Gigante was guided up by Wollaston. Lidl-Trek’s Brodie Chapman rolled off the front, accidentally finding a small gap, before falling back into line. The stage was set. 

With the domestiques done for the day, at 2.9km to go Gigante out up out of the saddle. She was immediately tracked by race leader Cecile Uttrup Ludwig and young rider Nienke Vinke, while Amanda Spratt, Ruth Edwards, Neve Bradbury and Victorie all matched the pace. With a headwind on the climb, it was all lined out behind Gigante. As the road continued to rise, gaps slowly opened up. Guilman, Edwards and Spratt were the first to swing out, until eventually only Vinke and Uttrup Ludwig could stay with Gigante.

With 2 kilometres to go Gigante took a look behind and accelerated, getting up out of the saddle and quickly going clear. Vinke continued at her pace to ride into second place overall, but Uttrup Ludwig, who had gone too deep to hold the well, slipped down the rankings, placing the overall classification win out of her race. Bradbury pushed on with Spratt on her wheel, coming across the line to claim third.

 

Stage Results & Overall Results

Results powered by FirstCycling.com

Race Report by Sophie Hamer

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