ADELAIDE, Australia — Australia's Simon Gerrans conquered the notorious Corkscrew climb to win Thursday's third stage of the Tour Down Under and take the overall lead in a race he has won a record three times.
Gerrans had been in a challenging position near the end of the second stage Wednesday when a crash spoiled his chances, handing the stage win and overall lead to compatriot Jay McCarthy.
The Orica GreenEDGE rider avoided a similar mishap on Thursday's 139-kilometer (87-mile) stage from seaside Glenelg to Campbelltown at the foot of the Adelaide Hills. He crucially put himself in contention at the top of the Corkscrew, 10 kilometers from the finish.
Gerrans was able to pass riders on the inding descent and "drag-raced" compatriot Rohan Dennis to the finish line.
"That was super-tough going up the Corkscrew," Gerrans said. "There's obviously some really good riders in the race, so I had to time it well and just come back over the top.
"We were able to catch the first couple of riders in the descent. My teammates set me up perfectly for that climb, they had me positioned in the third wheel and it's really thanks to them I was able to get this result."
Dennis loomed as a massive threat to Gerrans in the sprint for the finish but the three-time champion mustered more to claim another stage win on his home tour. He previously won the race, which is the opening event of the WorldTour, in 2006, 2012 and 2014.
"Rohan and I drag raced through the last 100 meters to the line," Gerrans said. "And I was just able to get over so I'm really chuffed."
Riders had to make a sharp turn towards the Corkscrew climb and another at the foot of the descent, in the approach to the finish line which made the conclusion of the stage risky.
Gerrans' teammate Caleb Ewan led the tour after winning the first stage on Tuesday and Australia-based Orica GreenEDGE regained the leader's jersey Thursday.
American Tyler Farrar, who was caught in a crash early in the day, finished the stage on a bike borrowed from a spectator, his Team Dimension Data said