Cadel Evans blows rivals away at 'Corkscrew'
Cadel Evans' rivals tipped their hats in respect and his boss had a grin from ear to ear after one of the greatest rides in Tour Down Under history.
Evans took the overall lead in Thursday's third stage when he broke clear on the crucial Corkscrew Rd climb and soloed to the stage win.
Fellow Australian cyclists Simon Gerrans and Richie Porte, the other two big pre-race favourites, were on the wrong end of a special ride.
"Cadel showed he is the strongest guy on that sort of climb," said Gerrans, who finished fifth and lost the overall lead to Evans.
"It was every man for himself there and he had the legs to distance us."
Porte initially broke away with Evans on Corkscrew but, on a steep section, the 2011 Tour de France champion dropped him as well.
"Cadel obviously is absolutely flying," Porte said.
"I tried to go with him but, in the hairpins there, he just rode away and there's not much you can do.
Gerrans' Orica-GreenEDGE director Matt White said on Wednesday that no one would drop the team leader on Corkscrew.
Evans apparently wasn't listening.
But Gerrans and Porte said the race was far from over.
They will try to put Evans under pressure on Saturday in the decisive Willunga stage.
Gerrans notes that over the past two years, since Willunga has featured a summit finish, the overall lead has changed hands.
Asked if Evans could be beaten, Porte replied: "Yesterday, we were saying the same about Simon.
"Saturday will tell."
BMC sporting director Allan Peiper was rapt and said the win was a major boost to the confidence of their No.1 rider.
Peiper also revealed Evans had scouted the tricky Corkscrew descent seven times this week.
"It was as good as I thought it could be - he did everything he should have," Peiper said.
"The strength of the team today, what they put on the road, what Cadel did - it will be a fight for sure on Willunga - but I have full confidence in the guys.
"Cadel the way he is, he's racing out of his skin.
"He is now realising just how much support there is for him here in Australia and that is probably giving him a boost as well."