Tour Down Under: EF Education First dig deep on stage 3

EF Education First may not have been able to pull off the stage win or open any gaps in the general classification on stage 3 of the Tour Down Under in Uraidla but it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying.

First, neo-pro James Whelan and then Alberto Bettiol joined breakaways. Lachlan Morton was then tasked with keeping the pace high heading into the final kilometres of the race before Michael Woods put in a powerful attack with just over two kilometres to go in the hope of winning the stage.

“The guys executed the plan pretty well,” directeur sportif Tom Southam told Cyclingnews at the conclusion of the 146.2km stage from Lobethal to Uraidla.

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“I think it would have been great if Bettiol’s move had just had a few more people interested in going with it,” continued Southam. “He got across with Davide Ballerini from Astana, and I understand the other guys who were part of the original break being tired, but a couple more riders from the bunch going across, too, would have been better, just so that the break could have gone a bit deeper.”

Whelan’s initial stint as part of a seven-man group was impressive, but he took things up another notch when, with two laps to go, as he let Bettiol latch on to his back wheel and powered away from the remnants of the breakaway.

“The main aim was to get in the break in the first place, and I ticked that off,” Whelan told reporters at the finish line. “And then I managed to get to the [finishing] circuit, and we had a bit of time, so the other guys could sit back in the bunch and not have to worry too much.

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