Santos Women's Tour Down Under: Subaru Stage 3 Preview
12 Jan 19
Will anyone threaten Amanda Spratt on the lumpy run through the hills? Subaru Stage 3 will have something for everyone.
Start: Nairne, 10:00am
Finish: Stirling 1:19pm approx
Total Distance: 104.5km
Main townships visited: Nairne, Balhannah, Oakbank, Hahndorf, Echunga, Flaxley, Mylor, Aldgate, Heathfield, Stirling
Host Councils: Mount Barker Council, Adelaide Hills Council
Ziptrak® Intermediate Sprints: Main Street, Echunga (at 53.6km), Mount Barker Road, Stirling (at 92.6km)
Subaru Queen of the Mountain: Red Gum Hill, Whites Road, Green Hills Range (63.2km / Cat 3 / 7%).
Summary: The Adelaide Hills and Mount Barker regions will see the Santos Ochre Leader's jersey decided. Or, at least, see whether anyone can pose a threat to the Mitchelton-SCOTT juggernaut. Riders will content with an undulating stage, with the final mix of ascents and decents to bring roulers and puncheurs to the fore. A Cat 3 ascent at Red Gum Hill would post, seemingly, little threat to the Subaru Queen of the Mountain jersey, and Sarah Roy will look to retain the sprint jersey with points at Echunga and Stirling up for grabs.
Race director Kimberley Conte says: This stage gives everyone a chance and could well reward the brave. All-rounders can make a play after passing through Echunga for the final time and go hard, climbers like Spratt will look to take advantage on the final circuit while puncheurs will bide their time for a final hit towards the finish. This will be an exciting finish to all-but confirm the winner on Sunday.
FOLLOW THE STAGE
Spratt won the penultimate stage with a gutsy climb up Von Doussa Road in Hahndorf after breaking away and carrying a fight with Cylance rider Lauren Stephens to the line. Her Queen performance came on Friday's stage finish at Mengler Hill. This stage lacks a seven-percenter like Mengler, so her rivals might gamble on a breakaway to try to dent her almost one-minute lead.
WHO TO WATCH ON SUBARU STAGE 3
Mitchelton-SCOTT: The Aussie team has plenty of cards to play. They don't need to win this stage, but only to defend against Amanda Spratt losing her lead. With cooler conditions anticipated, it might be a chance for some of the teams to throw around
UniSA-Australia: A team with road-familiarity and a rider one minute off the lead of the GC, UniSA-Australia could throw it all in on the final stage. Rach Neylan is probably a long shot, but arguably one of the better positioned to punch out a dash for the line at Stirling. Certainly the whole team is well-positioned to wrest the Wilson Parking Winning Team classification from Mitchelton-SCOTT with a strong team-wide effort.
CCC-Liv: Through Moolman-Pasio, CCC-Liv could ride a smart race to close the one-minute gap to the leaders. Over 100km, it would be like riding a one-day race with a hard-fought road battle. Irrespective, there's a chance for the new kids on the block (from a sponsorship perspective at least) to jump up the GC standings.
A breakaway sticking is the only way Mitchelton-SCOTT's Amanda Spratt will lose a third consecutive Santos Women's Tour Down Under crown [pic: Chris Auld/Tour Down Under]
OUR FAVOURITE PLACES TO WATCH
For volume: Junction Road, Balhannah, will see two passes through at the beginning of the stage, while Echunga is the host point for the Ziptrak® intermediate sprint and a return visit before heading toward the finish. The clever spectator will hang out at Balhannah before riding or driving to Aldgate or the finish line in Stirling to see the peloton finish the race.
For things to do: As with the first two stages, Subaru Stage 3 gives you a pick of Hills towns. However, Stirling is a famed host city for the men’s race and will be a great place to start your Saturday on its picturesque main street as it debuts as the penultimate finish for the women.
For a fun ride home: We’d follow the race on our bike from the Nairne start to Balhannah and then climb to Aldgate via Mount Barker Road before the fun descent via Eagle on the Hill and the Crafers Bikeway.
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