HTC-Columbia's Matthew Goss returned to the overall lead of the Tour Down Under in spite of a flat tire in the closing kilometers of Stage 3.
RadioShack's Robbie McEwen, who wore the overall leader's jersey for Stage 3, also required a wheel change about 15 kilometers from the finish, but both were able to get back into the peloton to contest the final uphill sprint in Stirling.
That was won by Rabobank's Michael Matthews, a 20-year-old Australian who beat Germany's Andre Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Goss to the line. It was Matthews's first career victory as a pro.
The 129km (80-mile) bike race from Unley to Stirling is one of the toughest of this year's 6-stage Tour Down Under across South Australia. The race ends Sunday.
Stage 4 is a 124km (77 miles) race from Norwood to Strathalbyn across the rolling Adelaide Hills. It starts at 11 a.m. Friday, which is 7:30 p.m. (ET) / 4:30 p.m. (PT) Thursday in the US. Versus will telecast the highlights of Stage 3 at 6 p.m. (ET) Thursday.
Goss won the Tour's preview — the Cancer Council Classic — and Stage 1, which put him in the ochre jersey. McEwen took the ochre jersey after Stage 2, but now Goss will wear it for Stage 4.
US-based HTC-Columbia has pretty much controlled the lead for this week's bike racing in Australia, although not from the expected source — Mark Cavendish. The British sprinter needed stitches after a bad crash near the finish of Stage 2 and finished 12:29 behind the winner in Stage 3. He's listed last in the overall classification.
Apparently the winner of 15 Tour de France stages got caught in car traffic that took over the road after the peloton had passed through on Stage 3. “I did the whole last lap on the open road,” Cavedish said. Race officials are looking into the snafu.
One of Cav's big rivals, American Tyler Farrar of Garmin-Cervelo isn't faring much better. He went down in the same crash as Cavendish in Stage 2 and is placed 112th overall.
Greipel is also strong, however. The Tour's defending champion has yet to win a stage, but he's been near the front every day and sits in 2nd place, 2 seconds behind Goss, for the overall lead. VeloNews writes more about their respective goals this year.
Lance Armstrong crossed the finish line in a late-arriving group on Stage 3, which put him in 81st place overall, 3:25 behind the leader.
Top 10 overall
1. Matthew Goss (HTC Columbia)
2. Andre Greipel (Omega) 2 seconds behind
3. Robbie McEwen (RadioShack) 4 seconds
4. Michael Matthews (Rabobank) 4 seconds
5. Ben Swift (Sky) 4 seconds
6. Allan Davis (Astana) 14 seconds
7. Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) 14 seconds
8. Manuel Mori (Lampre) 14 seconds
9. Alessandro Ballan (BMC) 14 seconds
20. Greg Henderson (Sky) 14 seconds